Warnings: A little AU.
Summary: After being apart for many years Teddy and James reunite again when an accident makes their destinies overlap once more.
Word Count: 12,950.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author’s notes: I had lots of fun writing for you shina_laris! I really hope you can enjoy this some, even if it wasn’t what you had in mind. I tried to include some of your requests in there, sorry if they didn’t come out quite well.
Thanks a lot to Annie for being so understanding when I kept freaking out and to Margot for the awesome Beta reading.
James entered the Fenrir Ward on February eleventh. He hadn’t seen Teddy since the last time they’d talked, and he was truly looking forward to it. They hadn’t talked for long and it hadn’t been like the conversations they used to have as kids, but it was something, and James felt idiotic for not trying mending things in the past.
Teddy appeared to be as gentle and patient as ever, and James wondered if he’d changed much in Teddy’s eyes. He remembered how many times his friend had called him brilliant when they were younger, and deeply hoped he hadn’t.
“Hello, you must be James Potter.” A lady received him. “I’m Bridget Longbottom. I saw you when you were a baby.” James thought that was the worst way to introduce yourself to someone.
“Yes, I am. Is Ted here?” he asked, puzzled by how different this part of the hospital was compared to the rest. There was a glass wall across from the entrance and several doors to a side of the spacious room.
“He isn’t right now,” Bridget replied. “You may want to make yourself comfortable. He won’t be back for three more hours and I can tell you you’d like to see him desperately.”
James was truly surprised by Bridget observation skills; she would probably make a good questioning Auror.
“Do you want me to show you the room you’ll be assigned?” she asked next and James nodded before following her through one of the doors. “Everyone gets an individual room to sleep and spend time in. Right now we only have you and Roger in the ward, since most of the people we were testing are already in treatment. We won’t administrate any potion during the next full moon because we want to check if you transform first; it would be useless to treat you for something you don’t have, don’t you think?”
“Yes, you’re right,” James had replied mindlessly. His mind wandered somewhere else as Bridget kept on blabbering happily. He remembered pictures he’d seen in textbooks back when he was at school. Pictures of human bodies turning into beasts. Even now, as an adult, he recalled them sinister, and he couldn’t help but voice one of his worries, cutting Bridget off and giving away that he wasn’t listening, “Does it hurt a lot?”
Bridget looked at him, confused for a moment, and then her expression turned gentle, her voice softened, too, as if she was talking to a scared child. “Don’t worry about that,” she said, avoiding answering the question directly. “You’ll be just fine.”
He considered that maybe Bridget was indeed talking to a scared child. After all, her answer hadn’t eased any of his worries. He stayed in his room reading a book he borrowed from Bridget while he waited for Teddy. Three hours passed and then five. By evening James resigned to the thought that maybe Teddy wouldn’t come back today.
Teddy missed work for a couple of days the same week James entered the ward under his care. Unfortunately –or fortunately, he couldn’t decide - he’d caught a horrible cold and Andromeda didn’t let him out of bed, taking up any little chance she got to take care of her grandchild and spoil him rotten. The third day Teddy almost pretended he was still sick, but the thought of eating garlic soup ever again made him bolt out of bed before Andromeda could check on him, and he was out for work sooner than he expected.
When he got to his office, James was waiting for him at his desk. He looked a little nervous and Teddy’s stomach churned at the thought of something bothering James.
“I’m happy to see you up and walking, Mr. Potter,” he greeted, not sure how to approach James.
“Come on, you can drop the titles. I’m James, you’re Teddy, we know each other,” James replied, frowning. “It’s a little weird to call you Mr. Lupin, and I don’t really like Mr. Potter very much.”
“Okay, James. Is there anything I can do for you?” Teddy asked, not feeling comfortable with the direction their conversation was taking. He didn’t want to get his hopes up and then have them crashed in disappointment when James left again.
“Yes, there is,” James said, matter-of-factly. “Just sit down and listen to me.” He seemed deep in thought and Teddy’s heartbeat quickened as he complied with James’s request, wondering what he wanted to say.
“These past two weeks I’ve done a lot of thinking. Talking to you again, even if it was brief, made me realize how stupid I was for avoiding you all these past years.” He stopped for a moment after noticing Teddy’s changing expression and shook his head. “Wait, that didn’t sound quite right. Ugh, this is a little frustrating.”
Teddy felt as if someone had slapped him across the face. He was more hurt now than he had been the first time James had stopped talking to him. Back then he preferred to assume James was too busy with school and then they’d just grown apart because neither had time to contact the other, but hearing straight from James that he’d been avoiding Teddy shattered his denial into pieces and left him bare with nothing to cover his pain with. He stood up suddenly and turned around to run away, away from the room, away from James, away from his pain.
James didn’t expect Teddy to get up, but his reflexes were fast enough after being an Auror for over three years. He reached out and fastened his hand around Teddy’s wrist, holding him back from escaping the room and sat him down, still holding his arm.
“You asked me if there was anything you could do, I asked you to listen,” he reminded Teddy. “Now, this will probably be difficult for both of us, you know getting my point across has always been difficult for me, and right now I need you to be as understanding as I know you can be.”
Teddy sat back, wincing visibly, not trying to conceal his true feelings now. “Talk, but make it quick, please.”
“I stopped talking to you because you got a broom for Christmas and I didn’t.” James took a deep breath and chuckled slightly. “It is as juvenile as it sounds, and it was a big mistake I didn’t know how to fix. As time passed the distance between us only became greater, and I never even considered talking to you ever again because I was too scared of getting rejected.”
“You were scared of being rejected?!” Teddy exploded, angrily. “Do you have any idea how upsetting it was to get a broom for Christmas and losing the most important person in my whole life the next day? I didn’t feel like riding a broom for years, and when I finally did, as means of transportation, I never used the one your parents gave me; I bought my own.”
James grinned sheepishly. “Was I really the most important person to you in the whole world?”
“You’re missing the point here, James, and before you ask what it is, I’ll tell you. You should be doing lots of apologizing now and instead you’re bothering an old man like me. Do you want me to drop dead?”
“Please, you’re only thirty-one! You’re not old in the slightest,” James retorted, making Teddy snort with a bitter laugh.
“What do you know? I lead a very stressful life, and I’ve had to deal with difficult situations in the past that have degenerated my living conditions. As far as you can tell I could be having a heart attack right now and you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference!” Teddy exclaimed and James looked at him, shocked.
“You’re not having a heart attack right now, are you?”
“Of course not, you idiot! James, you’re being dense. You keep making this worse and worse, why can’t you just say; Teddy I miss you and I want to be friends again so we can move on from all this drama and go back to fun times?”
James pouted and looked down at his shoes, still holding Teddy’s wrist. He rubbed circles into the warm skin and sighed quietly. “I miss you.” His voice was hoarse and it broke mid-sentence. Teddy could see he was barely holding back tears and felt the sudden urge to reach out and hug him. An urge he held back, of course, like any other he’d had in the last few weeks. “I miss you a lot and I want to be friends again,” James repeated and Teddy thought that maybe not everything between them had been lost.
Later that day when he checked a calendar casually Teddy smiled pleasantly at the way fate had turned out on them. It was February fourteenth, Valentine’s day.
Harry came around the ward on the seventeenth. Seth received him in the office outside and made him wait while he looked for Teddy.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Seth said as he knocked on James’s door, assuming Teddy was there.
James opened the door a few seconds later and let him in. Teddy was seated on a chair next to the bed. The room was well lit and Seth realized someone had charmed a window on the wall. It was a good idea; he considered adding one to cheer every room.
“Seth! It’s you,” Teddy greeted. “What’s wrong?”
“Mr. Potter, um, Harry Potter is calling for you outside,” Seth explained. “He says he has good news for you.”
“Ah, dad’s here! What a surprise.”
“Should we invite him in or go outside, James?” Teddy asked, standing up. Seth turned to face James.
“Did you do that? I’d like to learn how!” he requested excitedly. James nodded.
“Yes, it’s very easy. You ha-”
“James, your father is outside. I think we should talk to him first and after you can tell Seth how to charm the windows,” Teddy said, cutting James off. “Sorry, Seth, but Harry must be very busy and I wouldn’t want to take up his time by making him wait.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, Teddy.” Seth walked back to the door. “I’ll send him this way; make sure to show me how to make them later though, James, I really like the effect.”
“Sure.” James grinned and waved at Seth as he left the room. Less than a minute later Harry opened the bedroom door and peeked in. Teddy had sat down again and James was also sitting on his bed.
“Hey, old man, what brings you here?” James asked, making some space on his bed for his father to sit.
“Teddy! James! I’m surprised to see you in the same room, alone… and looking pleasant,” Harry said, not even worrying about being discrete. James rolled his eyes in response. “Well, like I told Baddock, I’m only here to pass some good news along. The mission we were worried about has been accomplished.”
“Oh? I’m happy to hear that, but I’m a little shocked they were able to pull it off without me around,” James said, looking a little down. He really had wanted to complete the mission as the team leader, not because of the public recognition, but to make his worth recognized around the Auror headquarters.
“Even if you’re good, don’t let it go to your head, boy, you’re not indispensable,” Harry said, warningly.
“Yes, I know,” James replied tiredly. “That’s not what I meant; I just wanted to make you proud.”
Harry grinned happily and Teddy felt like a third wheel for a moment. “Well, I’ll leave you two now so you discuss your matters properly,” he said, standing up. Both Harry and James turned to look at him with confusion. Teddy wondered if they had forgotten altogether he was there and sighed inwardly.
“Why being so formal, Teddy? Did you forget who changed your diapers before you could even say your own name?” Harry asked, trying to keep Teddy from leaving. “These news are as much for you as they are for James.”
Teddy frowned a little and sat down again. “I don’t understand.”
“He’s talking about the werewolf case. We were tracking them when Roger and I got attacked, remember?” James clarified. Teddy nodded, his expression changing from surprise to understanding quickly.
“Exactly, they should be on their way to Azkaban now. I heard all five of them will be entering the program two weeks from now under special care to keep them from hurting either you or your assistants,” Harry explained, not giving away many details. “They were ambushed ten miles away from the spot they found you. The pack had been hiding in an old shack for a few months already, leaving only during full moon to attack any wizards nearby. The leader also confessed they often lurked London, searching for victims.”
“Is he Fenrir like you suspected?” James asked.
“No, he isn’t. He is one of Fenrir’s followers, though, and quite a fan, I must say. He told me Fenrir is dead, but didn’t give me any details as to how or when he died. I think none of them know. Good thing is, we made him take Veritaserum in his human form so there was no way he would lie and he told us they were the last rebels remaining.”
“Who will be in charge of their custody while they go under treatment?” Teddy chimed in, his voice filled with worry.
“I don’t know yet,” Harry replied. “It has to be one of the best in the Auror department and the only candidate I have in mind is James. He’s here right now, though, and he’ll be for a few more days until we find out if he can still be part of the department or not.”
“Wait, if I turn out to be infected I have to leave the department?” James’s shocked expression saddened Harry as he answered.
“Most likely. Even if you take part in the Wolfsbane program, which you will have to, anyway, the kind of job this assures you in society doesn’t have to do with protecting the Wizarding community. Auror rules state that only wizards and witches can fulfill the position, and that excludes any kind of magical beasts and creatures, I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” James said automatically, the heavy sorrow troubling him still echoing in his words. “Rules are rules and we have to abide by them.”
“Yes, son, that’s right.” Harry patted James’s shoulder softly and then smiled weakly. “I must go back to the office now; cases won’t assign themselves no matter how much I try to charm them.”
Teddy walked Harry to the hospital’s entrance, leaving James behind in his room, thinking deeply about his future possibilities. They walked in silence through the busy corridors only speaking when they got to the ground floor.
“I’m glad to see him so healthy. For a moment back then I thought… we thought we had lost him,” Harry told Teddy and, for the first time, Teddy could see how human his godfather truly was.
“He’s doing well,” Teddy replied. He had thought about what it would have been like if James had died and the mere idea had brought him to tears and he’d cried for hours. “Thanks for coming, I think he was happy to have you visit.”
“I was surprised to see you two talking.” Harry turned to face Teddy and scratched his jaw. “I suppose you fixed whatever kept you apart. Well, if you allow me to say something, I’m very glad. You need each other in your lives.”
That said, Harry apologized for being in a hurry and Apparated from the lobby to wherever he was going. Teddy walked aimlessly through the corridors, going nowhere but doing a lot of thinking. His godfather had told him something that sounded very important, like Teddy was missing something big. Two hours later he was still thinking and still confused. The tone Harry had used to assure Teddy that James and him had to be with each other seemed to have a different meaning, something Teddy couldn’t grasp, but he had to go back to work, so he pushed aside those thoughts and went back to his office.
The testing was scheduled for the next afternoon and James had been advised to sleep. He lay awake on his bed, not even trying to, and instead recalled all the conversations he’d had with Teddy in the three days that had passed since they’d made up. Teddy had insisted on eating with James every day, too, filling the silence with small talk about their daily routines and the little pleasures they enjoyed in life.
He had heard many times in the past that you never knew what you had until you lost it, but now, after losing Teddy and getting him back once more, he thought he would never truly appreciate something until he got it back. Teddy was genius; he had infinite knowledge about a number of things James didn’t even care about but listened to intently anyway, just in case it was their last time together.
James would not take any moment for granted now. He promised himself this night that he would make up for all those years he hurt his best friend immensely.
Roger woke him up very early the following morning; they had some exercising to do as part of their training menu to prepare for the big test, and even though James was tired from staying up late, he got out of bed, deciding it was best to have this done with as soon as possible.
When they finished their exercises Teddy joined them for breakfast. He brought a schedule with him and gave one copy to James and one to Roger. The paper had dates and hours, explaining in some detail what part of the transformation they would be going through at what time and James was surprised to find out changing only took a few minutes at most. This discovery only preoccupied him further.
The rest of the morning went by fast and not long after lunch Roger and James were separated into spacious room with transparent walls. The rooms were empty, but this was only for the wolf’s comfort. Researchers didn’t want the subjects to end up hurting themselves. James sat down Indian style in the middle of the room and closed his eyes as if he was meditating. Time passed and it went dark outside, the moon hovering above them in a cloudy sky.
James waited with fear for pain to overcome his body and doom his fate.
James woke up on the bare hard floor a couple of hours into the night. He didn’t remember falling asleep, but he figured he’d gotten bored of waiting. Teddy had explained to him before the experiment that he wouldn’t be able to leave the glass room for around fifteen hours, but they would receive water if they asked for it.
He needed to pee really badly. He looked around wistfully, but there wasn’t a toilet inside the room. Then, as if the room could read his mind, a door appeared on a side and when he opened James found out it led to a restroom. After relieving himself he went out and the door vanished instantly, as if it feared he would attempt to cling to it, keeping it from disappearing.
He was a little cold, but James was sure he wouldn’t freeze. It was important to maintain him at a constant temperature just in case it rose dramatically. This would prove he had some lycanthropy in him, but so far nothing had changed. Of course, James wanted to be optimistic.
The hours passed painfully slow. His bones hadn’t moved yet and his hair wasn’t growing due to the exposure, so he considered it was clear both him and Roger were safe. A little part of him, however, the rational and factual one, James supposed, kept telling him that the moon had been hidden behind some clouds and would appear out of nowhere soon, or maybe the first time around transforming took more time.
Still, they had to wait ten more hours before being completely sure of what they were or weren’t. James was worried now that he had found out he could lose his job as an Auror. Besides that - the only dream he’d had since he could remember - he didn’t have anything. Well, maybe Teddy now, but he wouldn’t feel whole again if he had to give up his job.
Teddy felt awfully optimistic six hours into the experiment. Early in the evening it had been a little cloudy, but now the full moon shone brightly in the clear night sky. On the tenth hour nothing continued to happen, and by the minute Roger and Teddy looked more and more bored and less likely to be infected.
When the experiment reached the twelfth hour James seemed to grow excited. Teddy took this as a sign of how much James wanted to get the hell out of the ward and never come back ever again, but he didn’t fail to remember Harry was planning to assign James the werewolf babysitting. It didn’t matter, though. They were on good terms now, so Teddy didn’t need an excuse to contact James and they would keep in touch.
The time of the experiment ended and James was released from the testing room. First thing he did was run off to take a shower, and then collapse on his bed as soon as he put some clothes on. Teddy assumed it had been horrible to sleep on the floor. He’d have to tell Seth about these observations so he could make the changes needed.
Teddy ended up making his way to James’s room as soon as Roger was released. Unlike James, Roger did have people waiting for him outside to take him home. His family hadn’t been expecting the worst, so they waited patiently, and Roger was grateful he would get to sleep in his own bed that night.
“Thanks a lot for everything, Teddy,” he’d said just before leaving. “Take good care of James.”
“I will, you take care of yourself,” Teddy had replied, suspecting that Roger too was implying something more than he said, but overthinking was one of Teddy’s faults, so he discarded his suspicions.
James slept peacefully without making a noise. Teddy had noticed during the experiment that he had a deep sleep, once he felt asleep he wouldn’t wake up again unless sunlight hit his face or he needed to use the toilet. Teddy sat down next to the bed on the chair he’d been using more frequently lately and watched James sleep. His chest swelled up with unknown feelings and Teddy felt like crying again. Soon enough he wouldn’t be able to see James every day like he’d gotten used to, and there was a possibility of them going back to where they were again. Teddy was positive he didn’t want that, but he wasn’t sure of what to do to let James know.
He sighed and reached out to brush James’s hair off his face, but then James’s eyes fluttered open and Teddy regretted having touched him at all. He hadn’t slept well the last couple of days and the least Teddy could do was let him rest alone. He didn’t expect James to smile sweetly at his sight, though, like he was a blind man seeing the sun rise for the first time, or something equally life changing. Teddy was starting to suspect what Roger and Harry had been talking about and his heart maybe told him he wasn’t too opposed to the idea, either.
James had been dreaming about Teddy when he woke up. Teddy had been feeding him chocolate pudding and, to James’s pleasure, it had been the good kind. Waking up would have been pretty bad for him if Teddy hadn’t been there, but the hand on his forehead calmed him and reassured him. He sighed a little, stretching out in the bed to shake his drowsiness away and smiled at Teddy.
“Where is the pudding?” he asked lamely, still sleepy. Teddy’s confused stare made James consider he had been having a dream and he shook his head. “Um, nothing… so…”
“Hello, I’m sorry I woke you up,” Teddy apologized, ashamed. “I was looking at you and some hair got over your eyes s-”
“Do you have any idea how bad that sounds?” James asked, sounding amused. “You just admitted out loud you were watching me sleep.”
Teddy felt his cheeks burn with unexpected embarrassment and he spluttered out an explanation nervously. “I-I w-was not, I… well, I was, b-but it was only for m-medical purposes…”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind.” James touched Teddy’s hand which was still resting on his forehead and winced. “Ugh, so cold. That’s why I woke up. You should try wearing gloves, Teddy, they’ll be good for you.”
“I’m really sorry,” Teddy muttered, pulling his hand away.
“Yes, you said that already.” James sat up and arranged the covers around him to be more comfortable. “I’m glad to see you.”
They had another one of those common conversations they had regularly now, trying their best to spring away from delicate subject just in case the glass they were stepping on cut through too deep and made them bleed. Teddy informed James he had tested negative on lycanthropy and he could go home whenever he wanted now, but, surprisingly enough, James didn’t even move from the bed and continued to ask questions about Andromeda’s awful plush collection. Teddy was ever so happy to answer.
James left the hospital officially on February twenty-second and went home for the first time in over a month. When he got there, he searched through all his books for a letter he’d received from Teddy almost twenty years ago. He found it tucked inside a book he liked a lot as a kid and read the old letter thirty times before realizing what he’d wanted all along. The answer was there for him to see, and it seemed so obvious now he didn’t know how he’d missed it before.
The next morning Teddy found a note on his desk. He opened it and his heart jolted at the unexpected words in it. James hugged him from behind, surprising Teddy. He didn’t remember James being in the room when he first entered. James turned him around and when their eyes met Teddy fully realized what Harry and Roger had meant.
Teddy closed his eyes when James’s lips touched his. Warm breath rushed past his tongue and made his gasp in surprise. James reached down for his wrist, the same wrist he had held before and which had burned Teddy for endless nights with the memory of a touch he didn’t know he craved until now. Another hand pressed against the small of his back, pulling him closer to James and keeping him locked on that place. The note slid out of his fingers as Teddy’s arms flew up to James’s shoulders and fell to the ground silently, uncovering the words for everyone to see.
I love you, Teddy, do you love me too?
On March fifth five werewolves were brought into the Fenrir Ward by Auror James Potter to take part in the Wolfsbane project against their will and by request of the Ministry. Bridget, Seth and Alfred received them enthusiastically enough, considering the circumstances, and began administrating doses of the potions immediately. The week before the potion had been released to the public and it was a complete success. Everyone who had been a part of the program before could acquire it easily now and their worries had been eased.
That night Teddy and James had their first date as an official couple. Andromeda took the news well enough for Teddy to believe she suspected something before, and Ginny was so happy that James felt uneasy. He wondered if his mother was playing a prank on him. They went to a restaurant in Paris. The food was unbelievably good and the atmosphere absolutely romantic. When they returned to London, Teddy was beat and could hardly keep himself awake.
“Can I come in with you?” James asked, staring at Teddy shyly.
Teddy considered the situation and nodded, his heart racing achingly as he unlocked the door. He pressed a finger against his lips, letting James know they had to be silent. It was very late and Andromeda was probably sleeping. They arrived at Teddy’s room without any incidents, kissing each other hungrily as James kicked the door closed behind them. They fell into the bed messily and soon enough it was morning. Teddy didn’t remember falling asleep, but they were still wearing their clothes and he didn’t remember anything else happening. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to, but he’d been way too tired.
James slept next to him as peacefully as ever, his chest raising and falling quietly, and Teddy felt the same pull in his chest, the one he’d felt at the hospital that time, but now he knew exactly what it was. He pressed a sweet kiss to James’s sleeping face and snuggled up to him, whispering, “I love you, James.”
“You’re a creep, abusing people in their sleep,” James murmured with his eyes closed before rolling on the bed to tackle Teddy and kiss him on the lips softly. “I love you, too.”