He was just about to knock a third time when finally, the door opened.
"Drop your pants, I wanna suck your cock," James said.
Nick, unperturbed by this, took a step back and opened the door wide for James. "Hello, James," he said. "Perhaps you'd like to come in and meet my new girlfriend?"
"Fuck off," James said, wading in. He stopped in the doorway to the living room, then turned around. "You weren't kidding."
"Why?" James frowned, feeling a lot more put out than he knew he had a right to be.
"Why not?" Nick closed the door. "Are you coming in?"
James glanced back into the living room, where Nick's girlfriend was looking at the two of them in confusion. "Maybe later. Introduce us proper, or something." He let out a breath of frustration and shoved his hands into his pockets so he wouldn't mess up his hair.
"Is it Teddy?"
"Can we not?" James made a face. "He moved in yesterday, and he's so...frustrating." He groaned. "Like, with his face and everything."
"How terrible." Nick didn't look sympathetic at all. "Why exactly haven't you asked him if he wants a good old suckjob?"
"Because," James said. "And stuff."
Nick rolled his eyes. "Go home, James. Or go out."
"Yeah." James looked himself over in Nick's mirror. His hair was still good.
"I was going for more of a Marlon Brando look," James said. "Ugh. I'm going."
"See you later, dickhead," Nick said, opening the door for him. "And have that crush looked at. It looks nasty."
In James' living room.
Ok, so James was there too - he had his own mug of tea, and a plate with a macaroon on it, and he was technically part of this whole tea party, but. It wasn't fair, is what it was, because the two most beautiful people he knew were in his home, and while Victoire was someone he would never (could never) go out with, she was like a goddess incarnated. And Teddy, well, Teddy was mostly himself, but the thing was, James thought bitterly, staring at the pink macaroon on his plate, that Teddy could've had a pig's face, and he would still have been the most gorgeous person on the planet in James' eyes. As it was, Teddy did not in fact have a pig's face, but he was sitting there with his eyes and his lips and those stupidly perfect eyebrows and smiling at Victoire and she was smiling back, and why did those two ever break up?
"You all right? Jamie?" Victoire asked, gently nudging James. "What's on your mind?"
"Nothing," James told her. "Just work." He fended off her concerns with shrugs and by pointedly pouring himself more tea, and the conversation flowed back to where it was before.
"It's just," Teddy said, looking a little forlorn, "so...it's difficult to meet people, and it's stupid, because it's not like I don't see hundreds of people every day..." He sighed dramatically. "I just want somebody to love, you know?"
James' ears were ringing. Me, he wanted to scream. I'm right here. Look at me. I'm here. Me. Me. Me.
"I know!" Victoire said. "Have you tried Shepherd's Speed Dating Service? Angelique got me to try it - it's how I met Alex."
Teddy perked up. "Oh? Tell me more."
"Excuse me," James said and left. He locked himself in his room and buried his head under his pillow.
He didn't come back out until he'd heard the front door open and close, signalling Victoire's departure.
His attempts to spell it into staying the way he wanted weren't working. Maybe he shouldn't have put butter in his hair, but he was going for authentic, and anyway he'd run out of brylcreem (another thing to add to the list).
"Do you think I should pierce my tongue?" Teddy asked, looking over James' shoulder into the mirror. He'd let his hair fall past his shoulders in loose, wavy curls, and it was bright turquoise this morning. James thought he looked like a mermaid - a Muggle mermaid, from the storybooks he'd read as a kid.
"My tongue." Teddy stuck it out, giving himself a critical look. "What do you think?"
James stared at him, trying to forget the image of Teddy's pink tongue, and what it'd look like with a piercing in, or how that piercing would feel in potential situations involving his cock and Teddy's mouth. "I don't know," he eventually said. "Whatever you want."
"Hmm." Teddy adjusted his hair, retracting all hair on one side, until he was left with a side cut to complement his long turquoise locks. "Do you want some help with that?" He gestured at the photograph of Elvis that James had stuck to the mirror.
"I'm late for work," James said and walked away. "See you later."
Once out in the hall, he stripped the butter from his hair with a simple spell and resigned himself to his hairy fate. He glanced at the front door, his heart picking up speed at the thought of Teddy being right behind it, and drew in a deep breath. Something had to give, sooner or later, but it wasn't going to be today.
He apparated out.
James had also taken to making excuses to not be at home whenever Victoire came over for tea.
"I fucked her brother," Nick said and clicked his bottle against James'. "Cheers."
"You're unbelievable." James shook his head. "Except not at all."
"He was really good though," Nick said. "I would've liked to keep him around. Unfortunately for me, the guy has, like, a moral code or something, so that's not happening."
"How terrible." James rolled his eyes at him, and took a drink of his beer.
"Very." Nick looked around pointedly. "So, where's your beau?"
"On a date." James grimaced. "Sundays are statistically terrible date nights, so he'll be back in a few hours all upset that he hasn't found the love of his life tonight." He rolled the bottle of beer in his palms. "What do I have to do to get him to notice me?"
"Have you tried this marvellous thing called 'telling him how you feel'?" Nick asked. "I hear it's a good tactic."
"That's a terrible tactic, oh my god, I just - how can you even suggest it?!"
"Because it makes sense, dickhead."
"It makes no sense!" James argued. "If I thought maybe there was a slight chance that he was interested in me...but it's like he doesn't know I exist! I might as well confess my undying love to a cactus. The cactus is more likely to respond in a positive manner."
Nick was the one to roll his eyes this time. "You're a fucking idiot, you know that?"
"I just have a sense of self-preservation," James muttered. "Maybe I should just try to make him jealous."
"Yeah, because that tactic has worked never," Nick told him. He chugged down what was left in his bottle. "Idiot, I say."
"I don't want to talk about this anymore. I want to not think about it or Teddy or anything as stupid as love." James set his bottle down. "Logically, you should fuck me." He looked up. "Right here. On this sofa. Let it be the first thing Teddy sees when he comes home."
"And here I thought you said you didn't want to think about Teddy," Nick pointed out. "I mean, I am absolutely up for the sex. I'm just saying."
"Shut up." James got up and went into his bedroom.
There were no dates for the rest of the week, and James tried not to let it show how delighted he was to get to spend time with Teddy.
"What do you think?" Teddy asked.
"Eh..." James' mouth was dry. He stole a glance at Teddy's front, and saw that he'd done away with his dick. For a brief moment, James wondered what it would be like to put his mouth on Teddy's cunt, through the panties. Push the panties aside with his tongue, lick at him, taste him... "I don't know," he said, tearing his eyes away.
"I think like this," Teddy said, settling on a pair of small pert boobs. He turned in front of the mirror, inspecting himself from all angles. His hair grew longer, darker.
"Should I call you...she?" James asked, carefully. "I mean..."
Their eyes met in the mirror.
"I'd like that. Just tonight." Teddy suddenly pulled his morning robe off the hook on the door and slipped it on, her cheeks pink. "Did you need the bathroom?"
James shook his head. Whatever he'd needed the bathroom for was no longer important, and he couldn't get out of there fast enough. "Not anymore. Sorry. I'll just..." He gestured at the door, hoping his face wasn't as flaming red as he feared it was, and ducked out.
Standing just outside the bathroom door, feeling hot and turned on, James decided to go out. Teddy was probably going out too, if her fussing in front of the mirror was anything to go by, and it was Friday, but it'd probably be a while before she was ready and James didn't want to stick around long enough to see her come out.
"I'm going out!" he yelled.
"See you later!" Teddy yelled back.
James fetched his wand and a small wad of Muggle cash he kept for...well, emergencies and groceries, and apparated out. His favourite Muggle gay club was having a drag night, which wasn't much his thing, but it attracted people, and he knew the disco downstairs was usually populated by men looking to hook up. For getting off quick, that was the place to go - he wasn't in the mood for fishing, tonight.
Ten minutes later, he'd paid his entrance fee, gotten himself two shots in the bar, and was surveying the disco. It wasn't packed, yet, it was still early - early for places like this, anyhow. It wouldn't start filling up until after the drag show upstairs finished, and there was still about half an hour to go.
Finding someone wasn't difficult, and soon enough James was on his knees in a filthy bathroom stall, his mouth full of cock. He was palming himself through his trousers - he was going to get off, but for now he was focused on this cock in his mouth, thick and hard and oh, so lovely; James had been desperate to put his mouth on something. The guy moaned and James took him in a little deeper, greedy and heady with want. He fingered open his trousers, to encouraging sounds from above, and had his fingers firmly wrapped around his own cock, when the cops burst in.
"What have you been arrested for?"
James rubbed his face. "Sexual activity in a lavatory," he said reluctantly. "Did you know that was illegal? I didn't!" He was aware his voice was reaching hysterical levels. "It was a goddamn drug bust, and I just - I just -"
"James." His dad's voice was firm on the other end. "I'll come get you. Where are you being held?"
James got the address off the cop watching him, and then hung up. His dad was coming. It'd be okay.
The cop led him to a holding cell and James flopped down onto the cot in there. His dad was coming, and it was going to be okay, but he wasn't sure he was going to be able to look him in the eye when he did.
He wasn't sure he'd be able to look anybody in the eye, if this all got out.
His dad was here.
James scrambled up from the cot. "Hi, dad." He met his dad's eyes, afraid of what he'd see there.
"Hi, James." His dad sighed. He looked tired, and probably was - he was wearing his favourite Muggle jeans and an old sweater. James recognised the outfit as what he wore under his Auror robes, which meant that he'd likely just come off a long shift, or had been pulled out of one. "Do you want to explain to me what happened?"
A cop let him into James' cell, and James scooted over to make space for him on the cot.
"I was at this gay club I usually go to, and well..." James shrugged. "I'm single, I wanted to get off. Do the math. Didn't know it was illegal."
His dad regarded him. "Don't people usually take other people home for that sort of thing?"
James shrugged. "Teddy was home. And anyway it was just going to be a quick thing, we hadn't been in there three minutes when the cops..." He let out a frustrated groan. He hadn't gotten off, and despite the fact he was the least turned on he could possibly be, right now, he still had frustration coiling in his belly. "So. That happened."
They sat in silence for a bit.
"A drug bust, you say?"
"I don't do drugs," James said. "You know that." He looked up. "Do you wanna, like, charm me out of here?"
"I can't do that. I'm head Auror, James."
"That's exactly why you can, dad, nobody's gonna say anything about it to you of all people."
His dad shook his head. "No. You got yourself arrested out here, now you've got to play by the rules."
"But they'll put me in jail! They said that, that I'd either go to jail or pay a fine or both, and I don't want to go to jail because of a bit of cocksucking, that's just not fair -"
"Perhaps next time, it'd be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the law, James." His dad stood up. "I spoke to the front desk. They'll let me sign you out of here, but you've got a court date tomorrow."
"You're not telling mum, are you?"
"You can tell her yourself."
James felt his heart sink into his stomach. He followed his dad out to the front desk, where he was given back his things - the cash he'd had on him and his wand, which the cops were much bemused by. His dad handed him his Muggle ID, which he'd been stupid enough to not take with him, and they signed his release.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
This whole thing was stupid.
"It's all of my savings!" James moaned. "That took me forever to save up! And it's all gone!"
"Well," Teddy said, pragmatically, "you could've, you know. Not have had sex in a public toilet."
"Shut up," James muttered. "Oh lord. I can't tell Nick about this - he'll never let me live it down." He froze, turning to stare at Teddy. "You can't tell anyone about this! It's bad enough that my mum knows. She tore me a new one."
"What did she say?"
James rubbed his eyes. "She was kind of okay up until the point where she said 'I didn't raise you like this' and I said 'but you did literally raise me and here I am'. In hindsight, not the best course of action." He looked up. "She tried to ground me."
"You made your bed and now you've gotta lie in it," Teddy said, far more gleeful than he was allowed to be (that is to say, not at all).
James glared at him, but Teddy was grinning at him and his cheeks had dimples today, and those stupid dimples were making his heart sing. "Go be happy somewhere else," he said, somewhat reluctantly.
"Can I tell Al?"
"You can't tell anybody!" James flung a sofa cushion at him. "Let me suffer in silence. And solitude!"
"Whatever." Teddy got up. "I was going to tell you about the potential contract I'm signing with Weera's Witches' Wardrobe, but I could just go away -"
"Ok no, sit the fuck down and tell me what," James commanded.
Teddy gave him a brilliant smile, and James wanted the sofa to swallow him up.
"Do I want to know?" James asked.
"Alex broke up with me," Victorie said.
"Nobody loves me," Teddy said.
I love you, James thought. I do. I do, I do, I do.
He stared at them. He'd been planning on falling face first into bed to forget everything about his pathetic life and the stupid work emergency that he'd been forced to clean up, because the people responsible for the mess we're in St. Mungo's, but these two gorgeous idiots were sitting on his sofa and crying and eating ice cream.
James could relate to that.
"Scoot over," he said to Teddy, "and give me some of that."
Teddy moved closer to Victorie to make space for James, and summoned a spoon from the kitchen. "What are your sorrows?"
"Well," James said, pulling the blanket over himself and leaning into Teddy, because he could and because the sofa wasn't technically built to sit three people. "Three of my coworkers are in St. Mungo's because they messed up, and I just spent four hours cleaning up five hundred gallons of a fucked up potion and sorting out what went wrong." He paused. "Also, I am in love and it sucks."
Teddy stared at him. So did Victoire.
"What are we watching?" James asked, pointedly. He scooped up a large spoonful of ice cream and shoved it in his mouth, so that he wouldn't have to talk.
"Er, it's, uhm. Something Jane Austen related, I think," Teddy answered. "There's a Mr. Darcy in it."
"I have no idea who that is," James said, and continued eating ice cream. Victoire was still looking at him, but Teddy was fiddling with his spoon.
"Who are you in love with?" she asked.
"I don't want to say," James answered. "Why did Alex break up with you?"
Victoire sighed. "Alex decided she wasn't into girls after all."
"Why don't you want to say who it is?" Teddy asked, nudging him. "Is it someone embarrassing?"
"No." James sighed, and put down his spoon. "It's because...I'm so...stupidly, madly in love, like, I'm all made out of love, like I could potentially explode with it, and the person I'm in love with doesn't know I'm here. Like, he's looking for love in all the wrong places, and it's so frustrating because, you know, the grass isn't greener on the other side! It's green right here!" James pointed at himself. "But he doesn't see it, so I'm just. Like. Burning up, all invisible-like."
They were staring at him again.
"Is it Nick?" Teddy then asked.
The question was so stupid, so utterly and incomprehensible ridiculous, that all he could do was laugh. "Dude, no. I don't think Nick would know what love is if it bit him in the arse. The day I fall in love with Nick is the day Merlin rises from the dead."
"Huh," Victoire said. "That's interesting."
"Not at all." James picked up his spoon again. Teddy seemed to not want more ice cream, so James appropriated the entire tub. "So tell me what's happening in this film. Who's that dude?"
James got promoted, so he pretended his new-found happiness was all due to his promotion, and not the fact Teddy was no longer trying to date every single person in England except for him.
Small victories, James told himself.
"Uh-huh," James grunted, toothbrush hanging out of his mouth. His hair wasn't cooperating - his hairdresser had cut it too short, the previous week, and nothing was right anymore.
"So, I was thinking."
"You already said that," James said, having removed the toothbrush. He spit into the sink.
"No, I mean. I mean, you're green."
James threw a look in the mirror. "I'm not green?"
"Not literally," Teddy said. "I meant metaphorically."
"I'm green metaphorically?" James washed out his mouth. "Not for nothing, but I'm in a hurry." He cast a critical look at himself. If nothing else, he could always just slick his hair back. Not perfect, but it would do.
"I'm saying," Teddy said, looking increasingly frustrated and amused, "that I'd like to, you know, stop dating people, so that I could date you instead."
James froze, staring at Teddy in the mirror. "You're joking."
"I'm not joking. I told you, I've been thinking." Teddy smiled at him. The dimples were back.
"Me," James said.
"You," Teddy confirmed. "Because, as it turns out, you are right here. And I'm falling in love with you. So there's that."
"There's...that." James said, slowly. He couldn't take his eyes off Teddy, who was looking radiant and nervous, and James' stomach was doing backflips. "Yes," he said. "Yes. very much yes."
"Yes to going out with me?" Teddy asked, eyebrow raised.
"Yes, dammit. That's what I just said." James shook his head. His wristwatch beeped at him, and he groaned. "Look, I really have to go to work now. You and me aren't done -"
"I'll be here when you get home," Teddy said, moving in close. "Kiss?"
Teddy's lips were right there, pink and curved, and most importantly, there for for James to kiss. He closed the gap between them and kissed Teddy, softly, slowly, wanting to press their bodies together and trying to quell the heat rising in his belly.
He had the fruity taste of Teddy's lipgloss on his lips when he pulled back. "I really have to go, dammit."
"You're already late," Teddy said, and kissed him again. "Okay, now you can go."
James forgot his jacket when he apparated out.