FANDOM: Harry Potter
SUMMARY: At the annual Auror promotion party, the rookies aren't the only ones putting on a show for their boss.
NOTES: Thanks, as ever, to theemdash for the great beta. Written for the 2011 teddy_fest.
"Well done, Lupin. You've earned this."
Teddy smiled and nodded to Vaisey. "Cheers, mate. I'm mostly glad you won't technically be my superior anymore."
Vaisey leaned in close, smirking. "But you're sad you can't be under me anymore, eh?"
Teddy laughed loudly, punching Vaisey's shoulder. "Don't flatter yourself, plonker. Plus I wouldn't dare appear to be a threat to your missus." He looked around, searching out for Vaisey's wife. "Come to it, though, I don't see her here . . . ."
Vaisey began to explain why he'd been left to come alone today to the annual celebration of the additions and promotions within the Auror ranks, but Teddy's attention was taken by the welcome sight of a young man coming out of the house and into the backyard. He straightened slightly, one hand coming up to adjust a bit of his hair, disappointed to find it a bit sweaty—it was warm for late September, the last of the summer still clinging with the tips of its fingers.
Teddy nodded politely as his fellow Auror kept talking, convincingly carrying on with the conversation while his attention was diverted to the new arrival as he carefully picked his way through the groups of Aurors and their families. It was an extremely relaxed affair with huge spreads of food, freely-flowing alcohol of both wizard and Muggle brew, and casual conversation between everyone. It was a safe place to relax and bond as a unit; the home of Harry Potter was free from the prying eyes of the Daily Prophet or other rags which would tend to take a party like this and sensationalize it beyond recognition.
"You'll have to come over soon, have dinner with us. What do you say?"
Teddy quickly looked back at Vaisey and nodded, figuring he didn't need to have heard anything other than the invitation to answer. "I'd love to. Of course I've just had this promotion at work and I don't know how my schedule might fill up." They chuckled together, then Teddy gestured. "Excuse me, I've got to go say hello to someone." Vaisey patted Teddy's shoulder as Teddy walked away, heading towards a rather bored-looking James Potter.
"Never thought you'd grace us with your presence at one of these again," Teddy said in a low voice as he came up to James's side.
James, who was looking into the crowd and not at Teddy, just shrugged. "Never had a reason to."
"So you have a reason now?"
The expression on James's face didn't change much, but Teddy could see a slight widening of his eyes, the slightest upturn at the corners of his lips. "I suppose you could say I do." He sighed and took a step away from Teddy. "Here comes Dad. I guess he spotted me about when you did." Teddy followed the line of James's gaze and saw that he was right—Harry was making a beeline to them with a fairly surprised look on his face.
"James! I didn't know you were coming today." Harry came right up to his son and gave him a hug, which James returned with a clap to his father's back.
"Yeah, I know. Didn't want to cause a fuss, get everyone too excited."
Harry was beaming, and Teddy certainly could understand why. This party had been held every year since before Teddy went to Hogwarts, and back then James had loved having a bunch of Aurors who were all quite willing to play nice with their boss's kids. But James had stopped coming years ago. Teddy had no idea why James stopped coming—and he knew that neither Harry nor Ginny knew, either—though he did know Harry had always been upset when James wouldn't show, especially when Al and Lil left school and started coming to the parties again.
Teddy realized Harry was looking at him, a bit of a suspicious look in his eye. "What? I didn't know he was coming! Do you think I could have kept that quiet?" James snorted, and Teddy smacked his arm. "Shush."
James just shook his head. "Honestly, I just decided, like, twenty minutes ago. Other plans fell through." He sighed. "Can we not make a big deal out of this?"
Sure, Teddy thought. We can just ignore the fact that the first Auror promotion party you've been to in about seven years is the one for my promotion. Absolutely. He pressed back a smile, letting Harry respond as he liked.
"Just . . . go say hello to your mother, all right?" Harry gestured back into the yard, presumably to where Ginny was currently playing hostess. "She's been missing you lately, kiddo."
"All right," James agreed, sighing a little. He nodded at something over Teddy's shoulder. "This conversation's about to get crowded. I'll find you again later." Without waiting for a response, James turned and walked back towards the house, leaving Teddy and Harry to just look at each other, bewildered.
Ortiz came up to them, calling out, "Captain Potter! We could use your help with something here, if you don't mind?"
Harry sighed, closing his eyes as lips moved in that phrase Teddy had heard so often since he'd become an Auror: You can call me Harry when we're off duty.
Teddy winked at his godfather. "I'll leave you to it then, Harry." He turned away from the older men and, after only a bit of hesitation, followed the path James had taken. Someone called out to him as he crossed the yard, but he just pointed into the house. "Loo!" he said, getting laughs and understanding waves.
There were a few people inside; Lily was checking on Frankie's wife, who was eight months pregnant and staying off her feet and indoors to stay cool, and a few of the children were playing a game of Exploding Snap, supervised by a bored-looking Al. Teddy headed upstairs, certain he knew where to find James.
Sure enough, the loo upstairs appeared occupied, and since Teddy had a location on all the other Potters, and none of the guests would come up here . . .
"Oi!" James shouted as Teddy opened the door.
"It's just me," Teddy said, stepping inside and shutting the door behind him. "And you're just sitting in the tub." Indeed, James was in the clawfoot bathtub, though he was still clothed and the tub was bone dry. Funny how some things never changed; growing up, James had always retreated to the tub when he truly wanted to be left alone.
"I shouldn't have come," James said, hugging his knees to his chest. Teddy stepped into the tub, James's skinny frame ("Built just like his father," Ginny always said) leaving plenty of room for Teddy's longer limbs as he sat down.
"Don't be daft, of course you should have." He reached out and poked James's knee. "He loves showing you all off to everyone, Jay, you know that."
At the nickname, James looked up, his face softer than it had been before. "I know, but . . . I shouldn't have come back this time. Not . . ."
Teddy pulled in a breath and felt a stronger beat in his chest. He whispered, "I'm really glad you came today," and reached his hand out to James, smiling when James took it and twined their fingers together. There was just the slightest flush on James's cheeks, and Teddy scooted himself forward, pressing their knees together while keeping hold of James's hand. "Though you could have told me you were coming."
"Wanted to surprise you. I just . . ." James sighed and leaned his head forward, resting his chin on the tops of his knees. Teddy mirrored the position, bringing their faces close together. "I wasn't ready for the crowd. Wasn't ready for how . . ." James shook his head, and Teddy wasn't sure what to do with this withdrawn version of his boyfriend. So many times, even before they were dating, James had stormed through Teddy's emotional walls, dragging him through the rubble and back to the rest of the world.
After several quiet moments, though, Teddy decided it was as good a time as any to ask a question that had waited patiently in his mind for years. "Why'd you stop coming, anyway?"
James didn't answer right away, and Teddy allowed him the time to gather his thoughts. He could feel James's breath light against his face, like when he woke first on mornings when they'd spent the night together. He loved that early hour before he really had to be awake and could just be with James, quietly sharing space.
"You weren't around in those last years before I started school. You may not even have realized, but I was always telling people that I was going to be an Auror just like my dad."
Teddy let out a breath, immediately getting an idea for where this was headed, and feeling stupid for not seeing it before.
"And, you know, by the time I left school . . . I didn't want that anymore. But everyone who knew me seven years before assumed I hadn't changed at all, still wanted to be just like my dad." Teddy squeezed James's hand; this was a common theme of James's adult life, something that they talked about often. "It might have been fine, but they were all just so . . . they all wanted to know why I wasn't enlisted in the Academy, if I'd not been accepted for some reason. I said no, of course, that I just hadn't applied."
"That didn't go over too well, did it?"
James laughed, though there was no humor there. "I suppose it might have been all right if it was because I was doing something respectable."
Teddy let out a low growl. "Ortiz? What'd he say to you?"
James's eyes looked up at Teddy quickly, surprise obvious, and Teddy smiled a bit. "I am an Auror, Jay. I'm pretty observant, you see. And he has a perpetual hard-on for your father, what with his nose being up Harry's arse so far already that he can't ever get off."
"Sometimes I forget you're not thick," James said, his free hand coming up to lightly punch Teddy's arm. "But that is also completely horrifying imagry and if that's all I can see in my mind for the next week I'm going to have to exact my revenge."
"No," Teddy said, following his protest with a mock gasp. "You wouldn't."
"I'm thinking a mural on your bedroom wall. Would be an excellent use of my shameful profession."
"Is that what he said?" Teddy winced, remembering well how difficult it was for James to share his desire to be an artist with his parents, knowing that he'd been afraid above else that people would . . . well, do exactly what had happened.
"Actually, no." James shook his head. "No, he just said that my father must be so disappointed in me."
Teddy rolled his eyes. "Bet he's never had the balls to say that to Harry."
The hand that had punched Teddy's arms had stayed close, and now was lightly running over Teddy's neck, fingers teasing into Teddy's hairline. "I don't care what he says to my father. I just . . ."
"It's not anyone's business," Teddy said. "A lot of things aren't anyone's business." He parted his legs, settling them on either side of James, allowing Teddy to scoot closer and kiss his boyfriend softly. James kissed him back, less soft and more desperate; Teddy didn't argue the point and encouraged the deeper kiss. It had been days since they'd been alone together, and while Teddy usually would have a Saturday off work, this party was cutting into their normal schedule.
"Mm, missed you," James murmured against Teddy's lips. The hand that had been teasing now made a full commitment, fingers tangling in Teddy's shaggy hair while he held Teddy close. "Thought I could come coax you away from this stuffy party."
Teddy chuckled, his own free hand cupping James's cheek. "I wondered if you'd come just to be a tease." They kissed again, deeper this time, longer and more passionate; Teddy's mind started to make connections to other things that happened when they started snogging like this, and his body gave a pleasurable shiver to encourage that line of thinking.
"Jayyy." Teddy's hand dropped to James's shirt, gripping it lightly. "Want you."
James breathed over Teddy's cheek. "Can't leave. Party's for you."
Teddy started to pull James's shirt up. "Didn't say we were leaving." He pressed his palm against James's chest. "Don't even have to get out of this tub," he added, nipping at James's bottom lip.
James chuckled. "You're terrible." But he didn't pull away, and he actually pressed closer to Teddy, kissing him again. With the acceptance of Teddy's proposal, they began to kiss more intensely. Within only minutes their shirts were off and James was in his lap, sucking on Teddy's neck as Teddy's hand pressed into James's crotch.
"I want to fuck you," Teddy murmured. "Right here in your tub."
"I'm inclined to let you," James replied, then gasped as Teddy squeezed him. "Ted."
"Good. You feel so good." He pushed James's shorts off his hips, baring the sweet arse that Teddy loved so much. His fingers dug into the tight muscle, and James moaned and kissed him again—deep, wet, and filthy, just how Teddy liked it best, and he groaned in pleasure.
Groaned loud enough to not hear the door open.
Teddy turned and his eyes widened—Harry stood in the doorway, his jaw dropped and his eyes blinking like his owl's.
"Shit!" James said, under his breath, as he scrambled to cover himself up with a towel he grabbed from the wall.
Harry, his eyes fixed on Teddy, was clearly stunned—apparently they'd kept their relationship a secret quite well, though was of little comfort to Teddy right then. "Uh. We're hazing the rookies, Lupin. You should be there." He looked at Teddy another moment, then turned away, leaving the door open in his wake.
Teddy turned back to James, his face stony. "Shit." Harry'd called him Lupin. As bad as an upset Captain Potter was for any Auror, it bode far worse for Teddy while off-duty.
James sat back in the tub, shaking his head. "Fuck," he added. "That . . . why the fuck didn't he knock?"
"What good would that have done? We still would have been snogging in the tub." Teddy sat forward and kissed James's forehead. "I've got to go. Will you come back down and join us?" James looked away, but Teddy followed, keeping himself in James's vision. "Please? I want you to be there."
After a moment James nodded, just twice, but Teddy knew the promise would be kept. "Good." As he stood up, he whispered, "It'll be okay, Jay. Really."
He settled in the grass at the far edge of the yard just in time for the hazing of the rookie Aurors, all of whom just finished their stint in the Academy and were ready for assignment with a Senior Auror. Teddy would find out who his partner would be today, provided the probie was able to complete his hazing task. The tasks were harmless, far more apt to embarrass than to physically harm. The idea was to build trust between the Aurors, and seeing each other at their most vulnerable really helped to make people feel more confident when being at each other's back.
In Teddy's rookie year, he and his four classmates had been tasked with putting together a scene from The Fountain of Fair Fortune, with the requirement that the lone girl in their year had to play Sir Luckless. They'd been given a mere day's notice, which also put their ability to think quickly and work together to the test. It was not the world's best performance, and very possibly the very worst ever done, but to this day he was known as Asha when he and Vaisey knocked back a few too many after a hard shift.
The stage was set again today, though Teddy had it on good authority that theater wasn't the game today. Once everyone was settled and eager for the start of the show, one of the rookies came out alone, speaking in a confident voice, no hint of nerves.
"Good afternoon, fellow Aurors, ladies and gentlemen! It is with great pleasure that the Auror Academy class of 2028 presents . . . our Senior Aurors, in our eyes."
Groans went through the audience, accompanied by laughter from those who knew they were safe. Teddy swallowed, knowing he was going to be one of the lucky Senior Aurors. He glanced across the yard to his godfather. Harry's face wore a tight smile, but there was no humor in his eyes; when his gaze met Teddy's the smile slipped just slightly. Teddy looked away, wishing he could be back upstairs with James instead.
The rookies seemed to have the good sense to make their teases of their superiors completely good-natured, and soon everyone was laughing, enjoying the teasing and acknowledgments of everyone's quirks. Vaisey laughed loudest of all at the depiction of himself as a neat-freak, exaggerated lovingly via a skit of "Vaisey" going over the edge in an interrogation with a perp who left an extremely bloody crime scene.
Teddy knew his turn was coming, and he couldn't help but think that it was lucky that no one—else, no one else now—knew about his relationship with the boss's son; Teddy could handle teasing of himself, but he'd hate for James to be put under the spotlight, especially like this.
As though summoned by his thoughts, James took that moment to sit down next to Teddy. He sat quite close, and Teddy looked over, surprised not that James had come down, but that he wasn't halfway across the yard. "Hey," he said in a low voice, not wanting to disturb the show.
"Hey." James leaned in, whispering into Teddy's ear. "I'm sorry I freaked out. We should stick together right now."
Teddy shook his head slightly, smiling just a bit. "It's okay. I'm glad you came to sit with me."
James nodded, opened his mouth to speak, but his attention was caught. "I . . . what is that?" he asked, nodding towards the makeshift stage.
Teddy turned to look, and he blushed brightly. "That's . . . me."
The man who'd introduced the show was back, and he was sporting an enormous, turquoise wig of curly hair. "Shhh!" he said to the audience, a finger to his lips. "I'm undercover. I'm supposed to blend in!" He then began to walk around the stage in over-exaggerated steps, precisely the opposite of what a stealthy, undercover Auror should look like.
James took Teddy's hand and squeezed it, but Teddy began to laugh, taking the tease how it was meant, and once again being grateful that no one was taking digs at the part of Teddy's life that meant the most to him these days.
The show ended to plenty of applause, and everyone went back to mingling and playing broomless Quidditch. Teddy stayed seated in the grass with James, looking at him fondly, wishing very much he could kiss him right now.
"That's probably a bad idea," James said.
Oh. He'd said that out loud.
James continued, a gleam in his eye. "But . . . what if it's not? The augurey's already cried, Teddy." He leaned closer. "You've had your promotion announced, my dad knows." James shrugged at Teddy's look of skepticism. "Well, he knows something. And I . . . I'd really like to support my boyfriend today." He smiled softly. "That's why I came, you know. For you."
Teddy's smile widened as he looked into James's eyes, and after a moment to let that sink in, he said, "I hope that's not the only reason you come," and cupped the back of James's head to pull him in for a firm kiss. Around them Teddy could hear conversations drop away, then rise again, this time with a renewed buzz as something seemed to spread between the small groups of people across the yard; Teddy had a feeling he knew what they were talking about.
They ended the kiss as though on a three count, and Teddy smiled and bit his lip, looking into James's wide, brown eyes. Eyes which weren't looking back into Teddy's—he was looking over Teddy's head.
"Lupin. James. A word?" Harry's voice was hard, and Teddy's smile dropped away with the surrounding conversation. It wasn't encouraging that Harry was still using his last name.
James jumped up and crossed his arms over his chest. "Love to. What's up?"
Teddy stood carefully, not sure that he was really the one Harry wanted to talk to here.
Harry looked around, and it was obvious that he wasn't comfortable having this conversation at the side of the the yard, around his Aurors and their families, though the guests were courteously walking away to give them some semblance of privacy. "I think you maybe have something to tell me, son?" Harry's hands were at his side, fingers clenching and unclenching nervously. Teddy almost felt sorry for his boss, knowing full well what being the focus of James's animosity could feel like.
James flicked at his hair. "Oh? Yeah. I got a haircut a few days ago."
Teddy shook his head, looking at the ground. This wasn't going to get easier if James didn't lighten up.
"Not precisely what I was getting at, son." Harry turned slightly, setting his eyes on Teddy, and this time his voice was softer. "Maybe Teddy will be more forthcoming?"
Running his hand over his face, Teddy tried not to wince at the feel of two Potter men boring holes in his forehead with their eyes. He could feel his hair going red from the roots outward, an subconscious display of the heat he was feeling. James may have stopped wanting to be an Auror, but he had his father's intimidation tactics down pat.
"We're dating," he said, just wanting this part over with. "We've been dating almost six months now." He could swear it got cooler when Harry gasped and turned back to look at James.
"Six months?" Harry asked, his voice a hoarse whisper. "I, I thought maybe it was . . ."
James rolled his eyes. "For the love of Merlin, Dad, we didn't tell you because we didn't want you to feel like your judgment would be questioned if you promoted your son's boyfriend." James's eyes briefly looked over at Teddy, and his next words were tinged with pride. "And he really fucking deserves this promotion."
Harry's jaw clenched, probably swallowing down a scold for the language. "I know. That's why I promoted him." He took a step forward. "So now what? I found out. What's your plan for that?"
Teddy chuckled a bit. "Hadn't really thought that far ahead, boss." He moved closer to James. "But, improvising . . . ." He took James's hand. "We're dating, and we're incredibly fond of each other and would like to keep doing so."
"And we don't care what you think," James said in a sharp voice; Teddy squeezed his hand quickly, and he felt James relax. "But . . . but it'd be nice if you approved."
Harry shook his head. "I know how to keep my personal and professional lives separate, boys. You didn't need to hide from me."
"We know you can do that," James said. "It's . . . it's other people who can be pricks about it."
"James . . . you are so delicate." Teddy chuckled and leaned over to kiss James's cheek, and he smiled fondly before looking back at Harry, who seemed far more at ease with that small display of affection. "I'm sorry you found out the way you did. That, uh, definitely wasn't in our plans."
"I should hope not. Though I suppose I should be glad I didn't let myself be sidetracked a few minutes longer, hm?" Harry raised an eyebrow, but his eyes were bright with amusement. Teddy glanced over at James, glad to see his boyfriend blushing as much as Teddy was.
Harry stepped closer, his voice dropping near to a whisper as he spoke to them. "I know you say you don't care what I think, and I also know that's a load of troll dung." He put one hand on each of their shoulders, looking at them each in turn. "I just want you both to be happy. And if this is how you'll find happiness, then I'm glad you've found it."
Teddy had been holding his breath since Harry touched them, and at this last he let out that breath, relieved that he wasn't going to have to quit his job and steal James away to some foreign land forever. Though perhaps that might be a nice idea for a holiday . . . .
"Thanks, Dad," James whispered, nodding. He looked relieved, too, and Teddy realized this was probably the first thing in a long time for which James wanted his father's approval. He tried not to wonder too much about what that meant for them.
"Thing is, though," Harry said, his face quite serious, "I'm the easy one." Harry nodded as James's eyes widened. "Yeah. You've got to tell your mother. And you two are on your own for that." He smirked and turned, walking away without a glance back, leaving Teddy and James to share an uneasy look.
"Probably should disappear for a while," Teddy murmured.
James nodded. "At least until after the party's over. She won't be afraid to make a scene, and you have to work with this lot."
Teddy sighed and pulled James into his arms. "You better be worth it, Jay." And he kissed James firmly, feeling lips curving into a smile beneath his own, as though James was quite sure that he was, without a doubt, completely worth it.
And Teddy suspected that James was right.
x-posted to teddyjames and hp_tng