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12 December 2016 @ 01:54 pm
HP Fic: These Chucks Don't Burn Like They Used To (PG-13) (1/2)  
Originally posted on June 7, 2012.

Fandom: Harry Potter
Title: These Chucks Don't Burn Like They Used To
Author: Em
Rating: PG-13 for language, attempted dub-con
Word count: ~17,600 (in 2 parts)
Pairing: Teddy/James
Summary: Seven months ago, Hex Deflection hit wizarding mainstream when lead guitarist James was named the Hogwarts Heartbreaker by Witch Weekly. Since then Teddy, James, and their pop-punk band mates have been thrust into the spotlight, booking bigger shows and fielding interviews from the leading musical magazine Sonorous Punk. The pressure of the public eye and the stress of being on a six-week UK tour is starting to tear at them when Hex's frontman Liam starts grating on everyone's nerves—though no one's more than James's. Caught in the middle, Teddy struggles to walk the line between being James's best mate (and secret admirer) and Liam's on-stage snog. Of course it could be more than the sudden success of Hex Deflection that has James's wand in a knot....
Notes: Many thanks to sopdetly and momebie for their alpha and beta assistance, and to sopdetly for generously letting me use our RP characters to fill out the world of Hex Deflection.
written for teddyjamesbb

Artist: cmajalis
Rating: PG
Medium: Digital

These Chucks Don't Burn Like They Used To

Sweat beaded along James's brow as he finished his solo, fingers flying along the strings, the light on the far side of the stage hitting him in a way that made his face glisten. Teddy totally understood why Witch Weekly had named James the Hogwarts Heartbreaker, even though James had been wide-eyed at the prospect himself. Had Teddy still been at Hogwarts and not the bassist of Hex Deflection, he'd have had a poster of James in his dormitory, too.

Liam belted out the opening lines of the bridge, walking dangerously close to the edge of the stage, hands from the crowd snaking up and curling around his boots, threatening to pull him over. The first time he'd done it, Teddy had eyed him nervously and James flicked his head at one of the security wizards, but Liam had held his control, balanced on the knife edge, high from the threat of being carried away.

He held his hands over the crowd and they screamed the lyrics louder. "Drink me up! I'd drink you up!" And as Teddy sang, "Swallow you down," Liam was already strutting over, smirking. He pulled Teddy's head back by his turquoise hair, licking from his jaw to his hairline. Teddy's fingers stuttered over the strings, his neck sore, but it was worth it for the scream from the crowd. Liam always knew the right moment to grope Teddy—he played the crowd better than Teddy played bass.

Liam left Teddy to press back to back with James, their dark hair making them look like brothers more than mates. For the last chorus he climbed on Farryn's riser to jump off with the final chords from James and Teddy. The screams grew louder when the fans stopped singing Teddy's lyrics back at them.

James wiped his brow on his arm, grinning over at Teddy, making Teddy's heart soar. The adrenaline rush from playing a show, from being on stage with the kick of the drum right in his rib cage was one thing, but having that grin pointed in his direction was something entirely else.

Liam threw his arm around Teddy's shoulders and kissed his sweat-slicked cheek. "Time to say good night, Ted!" Liam unplugged Teddy, pulling him offstage behind Farryn and James. He dropped his hand and pinched Teddy's arse just before they hit the side stage, a chorus of shrieks following them backstage when he covered his open mouth, pretending to have been caught.

Teddy swatted away Liam's hand still resting on his arse, and laughed, clapping James on the shoulders. "Do you hear them, Jamie?"

The crowd was screaming and yelling still, even after the encore, the sound dampening only when they moved farther backstage towards the green room.

"Oh, I hear them." James turned, grinning ear to ear and then hugged Teddy impulsively. "Such a rush," James murmured, just barely audible over the din.

Teddy's eyes fluttered shut for a moment, a thrill racing down his spine from James's breath in his ear. James pulled away roughly, coming back to slap a bottle of water in Teddy's hand, jarring Teddy out of his fantasy in which his crush was requited.

Farryn poured a whole bottle of water over his head, the droplets clinging to the ends of his spikey hair, and then pulled his drenched shirt off, quietly thanking the assistant who handed him a dry shirt. They were all still getting used to the attention, the assistants and publicists; it hadn't been long ago they'd been playing shite clubs for tens of bored teenagers fresh out of Hogwarts.

"Yeah, yeah, we're all terribly famous." Liam waved it off, leaning against an empty crate of wet-start fireworks. He swept his hand wide, sloshing water from his bottle. "Where are the groupies, mates? Fame is nothing without a few dozen birds hanging from your arms." He knocked back his bottle, grinning around the mouth of it; he waggled his eyebrows when Teddy caught his eye. "Sorry, of course, blokes for you, Lupin." He bowed, mimicking taking off a hat.

"Ta." Teddy wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, focusing on keeping his eyes away from James.

"What about blokes for you?" Farryn teased. He brushed his hair forward with his hand, trying to get it to lie flat again. "Merlin's nuts, you were all over him tonight."

Liam slid his arm around Teddy's shoulders. "Jealous, Farre? You know I can't help myself; he's just so cute." He pinched Teddy's chin and pressed another loud smack to Teddy's cheek.

Teddy rolled his eyes and shoved Liam off him. "Wanker," he good-naturedly muttered, though Teddy couldn't deny that he enjoyed the attention. Sometimes a good snog on stage with Liam could take some of the tension out of pining after James all the time.

"I suspect you'll be the one wanking tonight." Liam gestured crudely with a wink.

"Oi," Farryn snapped. "Our public. Witches," he directed specifically at Liam. "Breasts." He pointed towards the door with his empty bottle. "You know they're waiting for us." Even he couldn't hide his grin.

"After party?" Liam looked around, getting confirming nods from everyone. "I'll see what I can do about enticing a few witches then. Heartbreaker, you'll help, right?" He tugged the hem of James's shirt but winked at Teddy.

James groaned. "I wish you lot would forget that unfortunate nickname."

"Only after you stop breaking my heart, Jay-bird." Liam clapped his hands, fishing a clean shirt off the garment rack, not noticing when James rolled his eyes at that nickname, too.

Teddy squeezed James's arm in solidarity and then looked away as they both changed into their street wear.

Once outside it was easy to get lost in the process of signing autographs and trying to focus on individual fans. It was difficult to remember faces—harder to remember names—but there were some kids he'd seen before. Most looked like they were Hogwarts age, and Teddy was glad once again that James had convinced them to tour during July; it was hot as bollocks, but Teddy couldn't have imagined half their audience getting out of Hogwarts in the middle of the school year to attend a rock concert.

"Oi, Teddy, you coming?" Liam had his arm around a bird and she was fiddling with the top button of his shirt, her fingers sliding under the fabric. James stood on her other side, two birds hovering near, one finally stepping closer and looking like she might be brave enough to touch his arm.

Teddy shook off the vague feeling of disappointment, wrapped up the last few autographs and waved to the rest of the teens in the alley before joining his bandmates. He cast around for a moment, looking for a stray bloke, but Teddy's luck was rarely as good as James's was.

"Maybe there'll be someone at the party," Farryn offered before climbing into the back of the car.

"Maybe," Teddy sighed, though he doubted he'd find someone more appealing than the aptly named Heartbreaker.

* * *

James dropped on to the hotel lobby couch, practically on Teddy, tossing a folded letter in his lap. "Came with the morning post, just after you left the room. Dad says hullo and to wrap it up before you get off with any more blokes."

"What?!" Teddy scrambled to get into the letter, surprised that Harry would comment so bluntly on his sex life.

James laughed at Teddy's reaction. "Okay, he basically told me that, only not so colorfully. He did say hullo, though. Passed on some stuff about your gran?" James pulled the letter from Teddy's hands and unfolded it, showing Teddy where his name appeared.

Teddy skimmed the rest of the letter as James looked over his shoulder, a warm presence against Teddy's arm. James absently chewed his lip, worrying at the bit of dry skin near the corner. His hair was still damp, but curling at the ends where it was drying, the mint smell of his shampoo strong under Teddy's nose.

Farryn shuffled in, making them lift their feet from the coffee table so he could take the chair on the far side of the room. He had a plate from the breakfast buffet and a coffee balanced in his hands. When they resettled James wasn't quite so much in Teddy's space, which made it easier to concentrate on the letter, but Teddy wasn't sure it was an improvement.

Teddy arched an eyebrow, murmuring, "Some bloke was caught shoplifting as you?"

"Potter caught shoplifting? Perish the thought!" Liam dropped over the arm of the couch next to Teddy, sprawling over Teddy's lap. He poked James's nose, looking at him upside-down. "I mean, the last bloke to polyjuice himself as you at least had the decency to try on dresses at Madam Malkin's."

"The pictures were smashing," Farryn agreed around a mouthful of pancakes.

"Legs that go on for days, our Jamie." Liam kicked up his own leg, running his hands down it.

"Oi. I'm not your Jamie."

"Oh? Is that a special name between you and Lupin?" Liam fluttered his eyelashes and then reached up to push Teddy's hair behind his ear. Teddy batted his hand away, flicking the displaced strands back into place.

James straightened, leaning away from Teddy now, crossing his arms. "Keep it up and you'll be calling me Mr. Potter the rest of this tour."

"How about Heartbreaker?" Liam sing-songed. He avoided the swat from James with a laugh and rolled up off of Teddy, dancing over to steal a sausage from Farryn's plate.

James slumped back on to the couch with a huff. Teddy nudged him, getting a sour half-smile for his efforts.

"No one ever polyjuices to look like me," Farryn commented dryly. He speared his last sausage before Liam could claim it, spinning it on his fork before stuffing it in his mouth. "It's always James and Liam."

"Actually, mostly it's James." They all knew it was partially related to his dad, but it was no lie that James Potter had something special about him all on his own. Teddy didn't wonder why there had been six James-impostors spotted in the seven months since Hex Deflection had broken into the mainstream.

"I'm surprised there aren't more Lupins out there." Liam bit his lip, giving Teddy a coy once over. Then he laughed, leaning over the back of Farryn's chair and kissing his cheek.

Teddy shifted, ducking his head and glancing over to James who looked oddly pinched.

Liam clapped his hands together. "C'mon, lads. One quick floo and we're out of Arrows territory." Liam shuddered dramatically; he was a devoted Wasps fan who'd complained loudly about playing a show in Appleby. Farryn cuffed him, leading Liam off to collect their things, but Teddy stayed on the couch while James refolded his letter, tucking it into his jacket.

"You're not bothered about the polyjuicing are you?"

James shrugged. "Annoyed my family has to deal with it, really. You'd think people'd have better things to do than try to look like me."

Teddy nodded. "Maybe we should be a bit more careful about when we go out." They'd been warned as they rode the charts that fans might vie for locks of hair or other things to use in potions, and had a pretty strict regiment of countercharms to cast and potions to take every few days.

James ran his hands through his hair, flattening out some of the curls. "I'm not so worried about it." James shrugged again and this time whatever was bothering him was finally shrugged away. "Grab your bass before Liam offers to carry it." He grinned, picking up his own guitar.

Teddy blanched. "Liam is not allowed near my bass. Only other person who touches my bass is you." Teddy grinned at James, lighting up when he received a broad smile in return.

"I'll hold you to that," James promised, and when he winked, Teddy's stomach flipped over, everything back to normal.

* * *

"Teddy taught me some basics," James explained to the reporter from Sonorous Punk, the last one to explain how he got into music. "My Christmas present that year, along with the guitar. Wasn't so long before I got kind of obsessed." James smiled bashfully. "Mum banned the guitar from the house, so it lived at Teddy's flat, and so did I most of the holidays."

Cadi chuckled warmly, the feather from her long quill darting back and forth as she wrote. It was weird being in a nearly empty Three Broomsticks, but Teddy figured it'd be packed soon enough once people started arriving for the show. The stage was set up at the edge of the village, closer to The Hog's Head, but they weren't the ones sponsoring this show.

James shifted, elbowing Teddy, though it could have been an accident considering how squished together the band was on the transfigured couch. Liam had insisted they'd all fit, so Teddy ended up squashed into the corner with James half in his lap; he didn't mind it at all.

"For a long time we were just goofing off on summer hols." James turned to Teddy, tilting his head and giving a long look that drew out the silence in the room. "I don't really know when we got serious. . . ."

"Clearly that was after you met me," Liam piped up from the other end of the couch, breaking the spell of James's gaze. He had his head propped on his hand, his little finger wrapped in a dark tress.

James turned, rolling his eyes. "Had to get serious in a hurry, considering that Liam's first action as a band member was to wander into a club, book a gig—and get paid in advance—before we'd practiced a single song."

Liam shrugged, putting on innocent airs for Cadi. "I got us paid, didn't I?"

"Yes, and you spent half of the money on firewhiskey before you even told us." Farryn laughed as he recounted the story, only slightly embellishing the path Liam took from the club to a bar to Teddy's flat where they had regularly practiced in those days. Sometimes it was hard to believe that had been just over a year ago.

Cadi crossed her legs, the leather of her boots squeaking as she shifted. "And that's why you covered Celestina Warbeck?"

James chuckled, a glint in his eye. "Actually, 'Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love' is my gran's favorite song. Teddy and I rearranged it as a punk song just to have a go at her. Teddy sang it back in those days."

Teddy shook his head, not quite believing James was bringing up his brief stint as lead singer.

Cadi turned to Teddy, her smile wide. "I didn't know you sang."

"Aye, most people don't." Teddy glared at James. "Farryn was jamming with us long before he'd joined the band, and James wasn't confident enough to sing, so I did." Teddy shrugged. "We still needed Liam, though."

"Ha!" Liam pointed down the couch at Teddy and then to James. "'Needed me,' see?"

James rolled his eyes, and Teddy could practically read his thoughts, Needed you like a hole in a cauldron.

"So, why don't you perform the Warbeck song any more?"

James laughed this time. "We've got our own album now, don't we?"

Cadi smiled, moving smoothly with the transition. "You and Teddy wrote all of the songs on the album, is that right?"

"The music is mine, the words are Teddy's. His words inspired our first songs; after that we've shared the inspiration a bit more, but whenever I'm stuck—" James pushed his hair back, turning to grin at Teddy. "—he feeds me a line and I know what I'm doing again."

Teddy blushed properly, ducking his head.

"The lyrics can be quite . . . vivid." Teddy coughed at Cadi's choice of words. They'd taken some heat for the sexual lyrics in "Fire on My Cauldron." "Most of the songs are about wanting or watching or fantasy. . . ." Teddy looked up at Cadi's words, his stomach sinking at the question he felt coming about appropriateness—it was a topic both Gran and Harry had mentioned once or twice. "It's hard to say anyone has missed the on-stage snogs. Any chance I can scoop Witch Weekly on some gossip?"

"Uh . . . what?" Not the question Teddy was prepared to answer.

Cadi smirked, leaning forward slightly. "Are you and Liam an item?" She batted her eyelashes, giving a look that probably charmed most straight men.

Teddy's eyes slid to James when he felt him stiffen. Teddy opened his mouth, stunned that Sonorous Punk cared who he screwed.

Liam scoffed, drawing her piercing eyes from Teddy. "Have you looked at him? Who wouldn't want to crawl into Teddy Lupin's pants and stick it to him? That arse—that arse is the one I'd go gay for," Liam announced plainly. Teddy could feel his hair slowly matching the flush of his cheeks. "But sadly, my dear Cadi, it is all just part of the act."

"But you'd stick it to him if you could," she deadpanned.

Liam opened his hands wide. "Would you believe that he keeps turning me down?"

Teddy covered his face; he could not believe Liam was saying that to Sonorous Punk.

Cadi smirked, one eyebrow going up. "Maybe you're just not his type." She held her gaze on Liam for a moment before he broke into a huge grin.

"Aye, maybe not. But maybe I'm your type?" Her eyes widened under his gaze, and when his grin shifted to a smirk she sat back in her chair, shuffling her notes. Usually Teddy disapproved of the way Liam hit on every bird he saw, but he was willing to check the judgment this once.

"I, uh, I think I have what I need." She locked eyes on James, staring at him hard. "I assume I can reach you for follow up if needed?"

"Right," James said, the relief seeping into his voice. He sprang to his feet, helping her gather her purse and jacket and ushered her to the door, rushing through the pleasantries and contact information, getting her out of The Three Broomsticks as quickly as possible. "Thanks again," he called before shutting the door and rounding on Liam. Farryn jumped off the couch, busying himself with digging through his backpack.

"What the bloody hell is wrong with you?" James scrubbed his face. "'You'd go gay for him?!" James's voice squeaked and he seemed to be trying not to look at Teddy.

Liam shrugged. "I was charming."

"You were horrifying," James snapped. "Think about how Teddy feels with you talking about 'sticking it to him'."

"He doesn't seem to mind when I snog him every night, does he?" Liam narrowed his eyes slightly, squaring his shoulders. "I hear I'm good material for a wank."

Teddy blanched, this conversation seeming less and less about him.

"I'm going to have a smoke," Farryn said loudly. "Teddy, you should join me." Farryn wrapped his hand around Teddy's wrist and pulled him off the couch before James laid into Liam again, the two of them hardly noticing as Farryn and Teddy escaped out of the door.

"Thanks," Teddy murmured after they were outside. He dropped down on the stoop next to Farryn. "They're like hippogriffs. You can't get near either of them unless you look 'em in the eye first."

Farryn snorted, a trail of smoke already curling out of his nose. "I don't know how you stand being in the middle of that."

"I'm not in the middle of them."

Farryn arched an eyebrow but offered no other comment.

Teddy pushed his hair off his face, holding it up before letting it all fall forward again. "I've no idea. They drive me batty, for sure. They've always clashed a bit, but this. . . ."

"Tour's too long or something." Farryn nodded, ashing his cigarette on the ground. "Maybe we're just more in each other's faces these days?" He rubbed his palms down the stripes of his pants.

Teddy shrugged. "Possibly? I know I've never had Liam so much in my face before." The interview only served to highlight just how often Liam had been snogging him on stage. It had started out as a lark when Liam was particularly excited, but some time in the past month the fans really cottoned on to it and Liam had done it every night, getting more and more suggestive as the crowd encouraged it.

"He did say he wants to stick it to you."

Teddy's gut twisted when he felt a pang of arousal at the reminder of how long it'd been since he'd had any sort of shag. "Charming way of telling me."

"Aye. And James seemed particularly annoyed by it." Farryn arched his eyebrow again, taking a long draw on his cigarette that Teddy assumed was an excuse to not elaborate.

"I doubt it's just that." Teddy kicked out his legs. His Chucks were spellotaped at the toes—he should see if James would hit the shops with him on their next day off.

"Whatever it is—we need to keep the peace or James is going to knock Liam off the stage one night. Not that Liam wouldn't deserve it. . . ." He grinned at Teddy and they both chuckled.

"It's our week to room together, right? That means they're together." Teddy rubbed his finger over his lip. "Maybe we should avoid that this week; see if taking a break will ease things a bit." Teddy liked rooming with Farryn; if they didn't head out after a show, they'd read for a few hours, and if Farryn pulled—which he did half the time—he'd spend the night elsewhere, leaving Teddy with more than enough time to take care of his solitary needs, as they were. But an extra week rooming with James . . . that wouldn't be too shabby.

"I'll try anything at this point." Smoke leaked out of his mouth as he spoke. "You take Liam," he quickly added.

Teddy groaned. "Why don't you take Liam?"

Farryn chuckled. "You know Liam's more likely to agree to it if he gets to spend more time with you."

"You mean more time molesting me." Teddy picked at the jelly bracelets around his wrist.

Farryn chuckled again, and then took a drag on his fag. "Either way. He'll be more amenable to it if he gets something out of it. Probably the only reason he hasn't suggested a change himself is because he's looking forward to being a pain in James's arse twenty-four hours a day."

Teddy sighed, scrubbing his face again, annoyed because it was true. "Can't we split time? You take Liam on even days or something?"

"No," Farryn dragged out the word as he exhaled smoke. "What is it they say? Take one for the team!" He pointed at Teddy, his cigarette squeezed between his knuckles. "You're stuck with him, mate. Until we can get them to settle things peacefully, that is."

"So for the rest of tour and possibly into eternity." Teddy picked up Farryn's pack of fags, shaking one out into his hand and twirling it between his fingers.

"I promise to revisit the problem if it lasts after this tour."

"Thanks," Teddy said dryly. He slid the fag back into the nearly empty pack. "You smell like arse. You'll need to spell that out if you're going to sleep in the same room as Jamie tonight."

"Yeah, yeah, I remember." Farryn swatted Teddy away. "Now bugger off while I finish this pack. I've a bet with Liam that I can smoke half a pack a day without pissing off James."

"I thought our goal was to keep James happy?"

"Our goal is to prevent James and Liam from killing each other. If I have to deflect some of James's ire on to myself to achieve that goal, then I'll do it."

Teddy shook his head and then passed back the smokes, standing up and taking the last step down the back stoop. "You're a brave and foolish man."

"I'm a man," Farryn replied. "I don't know what you see in us."

Teddy shrugged and then looked Farryn over. "Well, I don't see it in you." He grinned and then ruffled Farryn's hair, ruining the careful, yet careless spikes. "Remember: shield charm is just a quick flick of the wrist, and you can always try to disarm him first."

"Righto," Farryn said, stubbing out his fag and lighting another in the same motion.

Teddy coughed at the smoke that drifted off Farryn, not so sure that rooming with Liam wouldn't be better than Farryn this week.

* * *

The warm water soothed his muscles, easing the thrum from the roar of the crowd to a dull hum, relaxing Teddy until even the hum had faded from his skin. As much as he loved being on stage in the middle of Hogsmeade, there was something pretty wonderful about feeling normal again. The lock turned over in the bedroom—he hadn't been in the shower that long, had he? Liam was rarely back this early after a show, so maybe Farryn was checking in before he swapped the keys around. Teddy pulled on his shorts, throwing the towel around his neck.

"You need something?" He rubbed the towel through his hair as he bumped the bathroom door open wider with his hip.

"Just a bed for the night, maybe a shower in the morning." James's soft voice surprised Teddy and he turned quickly, smacking his arm against the wall as he pulled the towel off his face. "Sorry." James winced. "Farre and I switched rooms—he said something about giving you one last night? Is that related to him smelling like a floo?"

Teddy laughed, rubbing his elbow and silently thanking Farryn for his generosity. "I have no idea. So, I get you another night?"

"And I avoid Liam! Win-win." James smiled broadly and Teddy couldn't help but smile back. "You mind if I get in there for a mo'?" James mimed brushing his teeth.

"Oh, yeah." Teddy tossed his towel into the bath and squeezed past James in the narrow cubicle between the loo and bedroom. He nearly tripped over James's duffel as he came around the corner and realized all his things were spread out over the bed closest to the window—the one James usually preferred. "I can move my stuff if you want. I'm not picky about the bed."

"Yes, you are," James called around a mouthful of toothpaste. He spat in the sink, and Teddy imagined the froth that was surely around Jamie's mouth—he was one of the messiest people with a toothbrush. "Don't move on my account, Lupin."

Teddy refolded some of his t-shirts, rearranging everything in the extended space of his bag. He turned to the mirror, parting his brown hair to one side, so it'd dry in place. James dropped onto the opposite bed a moment later, flopping back and stretching out his arms, a sliver of skin peeking out from beneath his shirttail.

"Pretty sure I'll be fine over here. Are these beds charmed or am I just extra exhausted?" The bed creaked as James sat up quickly and tugged his shirt over his head, sending up a heady whiff of smoke.

Teddy wrinkled his nose, grateful that the smell turned him off and counteracted against his reaction to all that skin. "You want a shower before bed?"

"You saying I stink?" James tossed his shirt at Teddy's face, chuckling as Teddy unwound himself. "I'm too tired for it. Sure I'll regret it in the morning, but. . . ." He shrugged, head bowed as he unbuttoned his fly. "Not like I'm planning on snuggling anyone."

There was a sadness in the words that seemed to go beyond failing to pull.

"'Sides," James said, sitting on the bed in nothing but a pair of green y-fronts, "you'd be asleep by the time I got out, and, well. . . ." James frowned, which Teddy translated easily—there was something on his mind.

"Just say it." Teddy dropped to his bed, his knees nearly touching James's mattress.

James slid over, planting his feet on the floor, their knees aligning like some kind of human zipper. He worked his mouth for a moment, took a deep breath like he found some resolve, and finally met Teddy's gaze before bluntly saying, "Liam's kind of an arse to you."

Teddy blinked hard, not having expected it to be about Liam, but retroactively realizing that of course it'd be about him. "Liam's kind of an arse to everyone. It's part of the whole he's-Liam thing."

James scoffed. "Oh, come on, Tee. You know what I mean, and you know it's different." He leaned forward and touched Teddy's knee, his hand warm and his brown eyes wide. "He said he'd go gay for you," James continued in a quieter voice. "You snog on stage every night. He's been increasing the PDA—continuing it in the side stage as well; I've noticed."

Teddy shifted, not meeting James's gaze. "Yeah . . . I know." Teddy rubbed the back of his neck, wishing James hadn't noticed, especially since Teddy hadn't exactly been rebuking the advances.

"Oh," James said flatly. "Oh!" Realization seemed to dawn on his face and he pulled his hand away. "Shite. I'm an arse. Forget what I was saying."

Teddy shook his head. "What?"

"You and Liam. You fancy him."

"What?!" Teddy grabbed James's hands. "Jamie. I assure you I am not at all romantically interested in Liam McFadden. The snogging is an act—and, okay, yeah, it's sometimes really nice since it's been a long, long time since I've gotten off with someone—but honestly, Jamie. Me and Liam? No."

"Really? I mean I'd get it—kind of, I guess." He shrugged, his hands clammy in Teddy's grip. "His hair is nice."

"His hair is hair. Besides, he's straight—y'know, mostly—and after every skirt he can see," Teddy continued quickly. "I'm not interested in that."

James's eyes were narrowed, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Really?"

"Emphatically so."

James suddenly laughed, as though finally hearing what he was asking. "Okay, okay." He squeezed Teddy's hands and then let go, shielding his eyes with one hand. "You can stop looking at me with those intense eyes. Of course you're not shagging Liam. Merlin, I don't know why I was so worked up about that." He pointed to Teddy. "You have higher standards than that."

Teddy covered his face, snickering at what James might say if he realized he was Teddy's definition of high standards. "Higher than Liam, at least."

James shook his head, sobering a bit more. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be such a berk about it. Even if there was something between you and Liam, I just. . . ." James leaned his head on his hand, looking relaxed finally. "You're my best mate. I'd want to know, I guess."

Teddy smirked. "Know so you could talk me out of it?"

Jamie chuckled warmly. "I have always let you make your own bad decisions. Remember Will?"

Teddy groaned, covering his face and flopping back on the bed. "I keep almost forgetting about Will."

"No, you don't." James crossed the beds, curling on his side next to Teddy, propping up his head on his hand. "You got caught—by my dad at Christmas—with some bloke's face on your knob. I hardly think you'll forget that."

Teddy turned, mirroring James's position. "I'll also not forget that you were the one saying, 'use my room, no one will come up looking for you'." Teddy stuck his tongue out at James.

James leaned forward, laughing into the bed. "I was eighteen and a blighter! I didn't think you'd actually go up to my room to shag."

"Yeah, well. . . . We both learned something that day, eh?"

"Mmm, I guess." James leaned forward and tucked Teddy's hair behind his ear; Teddy held his breath when James's fingers went into his hair, the strands slipping through his fingers. "I hardly ever see you with brown hair any more." James's voice was softer, the laughter faded away. "I miss you looking like yourself."

"I, I guess it just doesn't seem very punk."

"I do like the turquoise." James's eyes met Teddy's, warm and soft, reminding Teddy of the picture from Witch Weekly he was certain thousands of girls now had plastered to their walls. "It's just nice to see you sometimes, too." James's fingers traced the shell of Teddy's ear, raising goosebumps along his arm. Teddy was frozen, reminding himself that the gesture was hardly sexual and friends could be this intimate.

James dropped his hand and rolled to his back, sighing heavily. Teddy rolled to his front, pillowed his head on his hands, and watched James breathe. Even though they'd roomed together the week before, they'd crashed as soon as they hit the room, hardly passing a word between them. It was nice to have a chance to be best mates instead of band mates.

"If you're not for Liam," James started slowly, his profile unreadable. "Who are you for these days?"

Teddy bit his lip, not liking the idea of lying to James, but his friendship was more important than his crush, no matter how long he'd had it.

"Lance Folston's biceps are rather nice."

James laughed, cupping his hand behind his head. "His shoulders aren't bad either; beaters tend to be well-built. Prust has nice eyes, too. Actually most of the Falcons are fairly nice to look at."

Teddy arched an eyebrow. "The Falmouth team's all blokes."

James shrugged. "Like you never comment on birds."

Teddy hummed assent; beauty was beauty, he supposed, no matter what parts a person had.

"So, what are we doing after this tour?"

Teddy shrugged, his shoulder bumping into his chin. "I guess finish recording the second album. Maybe finish writing it first, since we've only gotten through two songs since we hit the road."

James frowned. "I meant about the flat."

"Well, I . . . I wasn't planning on moving?" Teddy'd been in the same flat since he'd left Hogwarts. When he came of age, Harry had given him a pile of gold he'd said had come from the Black family, and suggested Teddy set himself up proper. The flat was a little big for Teddy on his own, but perfect once James had moved in six years later. It was made for them to live together, though Teddy felt like he couldn't say that without his emotions showing through.

"No, I know that," James said, rolling to his side again. "But I've got Galleons now. I could afford my own place."

"Oh. Uh, I suppose? I hadn't really considered it."

James hummed softly. "It's just a thought mostly. I mean, I'm glad you took me in when you did so I didn't have to live with my parents." He made a face, pretending to be the rebellious wizard Teddy knew he wasn't. "But maybe it'd be good for us to have our own space."

Teddy shrugged again, feeling a tightening in his chest. "I really hadn't thought about it." Though any thoughts he did have about their living arrangements usually featured them sharing a room in the future. "Who thought the band would change so much, huh?"

James was quiet for a long moment before finally saying, "Mmm, yeah." He pushed half-way up, wavered for a moment, and then rolled away from Teddy, kicking out his legs to land in a standing position, taking the long way back to his bed. "Good night, Ted," he said, crawling under the covers.

"Night." Teddy flicked off the lamp so the only light coming in was from the slit between the curtains where Teddy couldn't quite get them closed.

"Sleep tight," James whispered, his voice lingering in the dark.

Teddy slipped under his covers and rolled to his back, trying not to worry about the possibility of James moving out after tour, and just focus on the fact that he knew he and James would always be all right.

* * *

Teddy met James in front of the Floo with a coffee fixed exactly the way James liked it. He held it out in front of him, turquoise head bowed. "Caffeine for the sleepless."

James took the cup, slugging back nearly half of it before grunting. "I hate Liam." The night before Liam stumbled in from partying with half the Wigtown Wanderers, mixed up their rooms, and pounded on James and Farryn's door, calling for Teddy. Liam, at his best, would forget social morays and personal space, and when he was completely pissed there was no chance of him remembering that most people were asleep at three in the morning.

Teddy chuckled. "I know what you mean."

James rolled his eyes and then leaned against the mantle, his arms crossed, the coffee dangling from his loose grip. "No, I mean, why does he have to get pissed every night. And who's to say I wasn't having a very lovely sleep without his fucking loud presence?" James sighed, pushing back his hair. "It's been a long tour."

Teddy shrugged. "And Liam's been much more . . . Liam."

James huffed in agreement. "Just keep up the room swap, yeah? I've been enjoying the break."

Teddy winced, he and Farryn hadn't explained it quite like that, and James and Liam hadn't asked about it. "Don't feel manipulated?"

"Hell, I could kiss you."

Teddy laughed nervously, covering up what felt like awkward silence. James shoved the half empty coffee at Teddy. "Ted. Liam's driving me barmy and you've been stepping in to give me a break. Don't start apologizing, eh?" The left corner of his mouth twitched up slightly. "You were going to start apologizing, weren't you?"

Teddy narrowed his eyes and shoved at James, glad he'd provided a reason for Teddy's nervousness. "Shut it."

"Morning, ladies!" Liam vaulted the couch, beelining for the coffee cup in Teddy's hand, drinking down the rest of it in one gulp. "Excellent, mate, exactly the way I like it."

"Pinched?" James quipped, one hip cocked to the side.

Liam shook his finger at James. "Well spotted, Potter."

James rolled his eyes and pushed away from the Floo, walking to the extreme opposite of the sitting area.

Liam clapped his hands together. "Where's Farre? It's almost time to hit the road." Liam slapped his hands on the mantle, drumming out something suspiciously close to their current number 1 hit, "Fire on My Cauldron." He turned, shaking his hips and putting on the pouty lip, dancing towards Teddy. He threw a look over his shoulder at James and even though James snorted, he uncrossed his arms, a smile teasing his lips. Teddy chuckled softly, humming the bridge of the song just before Liam swung his arm to strum his air guitar, breaking into the chorus.

"You're the fire on my cauldron—searing to the core. Potion boiling, bubbling, brewing, boy, what else can I give you?"

"What more can you take?" Teddy chimed in with the backing vocals, laughing when he saw James tapping his fingers like they were frets.

"Oi!" Farryn held up his hands, hoodie swinging. "None of these people paid for tickets." He gestured to the scant people milling about the breakfast area so early in the morning. A pair of teen witches were on their toes, autograph pads in hands, parents at their heels.

"Time to go anyway," James reasoned. "We were waiting on you, berk." He cuffed Farryn's shoulder and then flashed a smile over at the girls, nodding politely to their parents. The girls pointed over James's shoulder, and James turned, grinning now at Teddy. "They want you." He arched an eyebrow at Teddy.

"Me?" Teddy mouthed. He walked over, shifting his hair from turquoise to royal blue and getting a giggle from the girls. "Wotcher." He ducked his head, smiling at their parents.

"Did you really write that song about a boy?" one of the girls asked. She nodded her head towards the rest of the band, Teddy guessed she specifically meant "Fire on My Cauldron."

He grinned. "Aye, I did."

The other girl elbowed her sister. "I told you," she whispered.

Teddy chuckled. "Are you sure you don't want me to call over Liam or James?"

They both shook their heads. "I play bass," the one who asked the question blurted.

"Do you now?" Teddy flushed slightly, totally taken in by these girls. It'd been too long since he'd interacted with fans who weren't shoving their breasts at Liam and James.

"Ted! Time to say goodbye to Wigtown." James waved, pointing to the portkey board behind him which showed it was time for their departure.

"Quick portkey to Ballycastle for the 'international' leg of the tour." Farryn chuckled at Liam's joke before following him to the portkey.

"Keep playing," Teddy said softly. He quickly scribbled off autographs to them both, and then waved to their parents as well, ducking his head again, and heading back to his band, feeling very overwhelmed by their appreciation.

"Have a nice chat?" James teased.

"Shut it." Teddy pushed his shoulder, ducking his head to pick up his bass and his rucksack.

James tilted his head, assessing Teddy for a moment. "Your smile's adorable," he finally said. Thankfully he stepped up to the portkey after that and was too busy securing his gear to notice Teddy's blush.

* * *

James plopped down next to Teddy on the bench, handing him another box of shoes. "I know, I know, they're not Chucks, but you've got to trust me, Teddy, there are more to shoes than just canvas and rubber." James lifted the lid off the over-sized box carefully, folding back the paper slowly, the smell of leather wafting up. He closed his eyes as he inhaled and even Teddy could understand the appeal.

"Those are some shoes." Liam leaned over the shelf behind Teddy. "Nice find, Potter."

James lifted one studded dragon-leather boot from the box. "One thing we agree on," he murmured. "Just the one thing."

Teddy chuckled as he dutifully put the boot on over his well-worn sock. "You're both in the band," he pointed out. "And you both wanted to take me shoe shopping."

"That was because your shoes were being held together with spellotape and hope, Lupin. Plus the holes are letting the stink out." James grinned when Teddy shoved him half off the bench.

"I still don't see why I can't just get a new pair of Chucks."

James narrowed his eyes, flicking his hand to urge Teddy to zip up the boot faster.

The boots were clunkier than Teddy expected even as the charms made them perfectly fit his feet. The suction reminded him unequivocally of sinking his feet into a pair of wellies for a Care of Magical Creatures lesson devoted to the mating habits of the giant squid. The spongey give when he put his weight down made him grasp for James's shoulder, and Teddy didn't imagine he'd have enjoyed tromping around Ballycastle for the last two days with them sucking his feet every step.

"You don't think they're a bit . . . much?" Teddy put his feet side by side and then flinched, drawing them apart; the studs were sharper than they looked.

"Maybe these are more your speed, Ted?" Liam dropped a pair of sequined high heels on to the bench, laughing as he ducked behind the shoe shelves again.

Teddy picked them up, regarding them a moment. "What do you think, Jamie?" He grew his hair longer and into more of a girl's cut, making it as red as the heels.

James smirked. "Well now I think you should try on the heels."

Teddy laughed, letting his hair go back to turquoise and his usual length. "I'm not really sure either of these are me." He undid the zipper along the boots and tried to toe them off to no avail, finally needing James to ease his foot out while he stripped the leather from his calf like a banana peel. He set the boots to the side with the heels.

"I like the idea of boots, but maybe something a little less so. . . . "

James got up, rummaging through the shelves again, talking over his shoulder. "Maybe something a little simpler? Fewer bells and whistles?"

"And studs," Teddy mumbled.

Liam popped around the corner a moment after James disappeared down the opposite end and dropped a pair of fairly plain boots in Teddy's lap. They weren't quite as tall and had big silver buckles over the laces. "A bit more your speed?"

"A bit, yeah. Ta." Teddy started to pull the boots from the box, but Liam flourished his hand, pulling the box out of Teddy's reach.

"Allow me." Liam dropped to the ground in front of Teddy, pulled the paper stuffing out of the boots, and put them on Teddy's feet one at a time, lacing them up just right. "How's that?"

Teddy wiggled his toes in the boots, the fitting charms weren't quite as spongey or aggressive. They were a little more his style as well. Not that Teddy didn't love the meticulousness James paid to his own outfits, but a worn t-shirt and faded jeans were Teddy's favorite things to wear.

"It's a step up from the Chucks, Ted. Which, by the by, I will be incinerating as soon as you purchase something else. They need to be put out of their misery. And we need to be put out of our misery." He wrinkled his nose and waved his hand in front of his face.

"What is with all the comments about my feet?"

"It's not your feet, it's the smell of your feet. Your feet themselves are rather cute." Liam's mouth curved in a little smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling ever so slightly. He grabbed the toe of Teddy's boot and shook it. "Take 'em for a test drive, Lupin!"

Teddy rolled his eyes, ignoring the comment about his cute feet, and got up, heading in the direction James had wandered. He turned the corner, finding James an aisle over with a mass of half-open boxes around him, holding a pair of dark brown boots that looked like they belonged on a pirate in one hand and a pair of slip-ons that were the same royal blue Teddy used for his hair in the other.

"Find anything interesting?"

James held up the slip-ons and then looked straight down at Teddy's feet. "Well, fuck. Those are perfect for you, aren't they?"

Teddy chuckled, rocking forward on his toes. They fit perfectly and were dead comfortable—more so than his Chucks, but he'd only admit that under veritaserum. "I like them. You approve?"

James tossed the pirate boots back in the box and pushed a hand through his hair, leaning his elbow on the open shelf. "Yeah, I approve. Where'd you get them?"

"Liam, if you'd believe it." Teddy knocked his foot to the side, the buckle flashing in the light.

"Mr. I'll-bring-the-queer-bloke-a-pair-of-high-heels?"

"Yeah, but he's just going by 'Liam' these days."

James scoffed, narrowing his eyes, and turned to shove the slip-ons back on their shelf. "Head up to the till. I'm just going to clean up a bit."

Teddy touched his shoulder. "Jamie?"

James waved him off. "I'll be right there."

Teddy shrugged, trying not to take James's moodiness personally, and then headed back to Liam. Liam had a flame coming out of his wand, Teddy's Chucks dangling over it.

"Wait until we're out of the store, you sod!" Teddy thwacked Liam over the head, snatching away his old shoes. If he was lucky, he could hide them in the bottom of his rucksack and no one would know he'd kept them. He stuffed them in the boot box and headed up to the front, still wearing the new purchase. The clerk behind the counter gaped when she looked up.

"Wotcher! You're Hex Deflection!" Her faded t-shirt bore the band logo of Red Cap Courtship, Farryn's former band; Teddy would have to remember to tell him.

Liam arched an eyebrow at Teddy and leaned on the counter top. "So we are, love. All right, then?"

"Brill." She started ringing up Teddy's boots. "My mates are not going to believe you were here. They're all going to see you tomorrow."

"Yeah?" Liam played with the display of quills sitting next to the till, running his hands over the feathers. "Wait, they are, but you're not?" He pointed towards her shirt, clearly noticing the same thing Teddy had.

She shrugged, a tight smile on her face as she pushed her unruly curls behind her ear. "Would, but I didn't have the Sickles to spring for a ticket."

Liam plucked one of the quills from the display and reached forward to grab a piece of paper from her note pad. "What's your name?"

She blinked, her mouth moving silently for a moment. "Evie Wood."

Liam spelled it out as he wrote it, getting her to confirm it, and then tucked the note in his shirt pocket, patting it. "You're on the guest list, love. Make sure you rub it in to your friends." He winked at her.

Teddy slipped the notes across the counter to Evie, prompting her out of her shock. She made the change, still gaping a bit at Liam.

"You mean it, really?"

Liam shrugged. "If I can't decide who's on the guest list, I think there's some sort of problem."

"He means it," Teddy said, taking the bag with his box of old shoes. "I'll make sure he gives your name to the right people."

Her eyes grew wider as she looked up at Teddy.

Teddy held up the bag. "Thanks for the shoes!" He smiled, then grabbed Liam's arm and pulled him out of the store. When they were outside he looked back; James was just getting up to the counter with a purchase of his own and looked to be getting similar treatment as Evie excitedly waved her hands.

"Did you see her shirt?" Liam grinned ear to ear. "Farre's gonna be so bummed he missed that. You know how he thinks he doesn't have any fans."

"Oh, I know." Teddy laughed. "When we tell this story, we should give her a tattoo of his face."

Liam laughed louder.

"That was a nice thing, McFadden," James said as he stepped on to the sidewalk.

"Teddy's the one who gave her the tattoo."

James's eyebrows scrunched in confusion. "I meant agreeing to add her to the guest list. That was nice."

Liam shrugged and then snatched Teddy's bag from his hand, running down the street. "As soon as I find a bin, I'm chucking these in and burning them!" He skipped and then laughed, running on ahead.

James covered his face. "Just when I thought he was being a decent human being. . . . How well do you remember fire suppression spells?"

Teddy laughed loudly. "I brushed up when Farryn started smoking again. C'mon, we'd better catch him up."

"Wait," James said, holding out his bag to Teddy. "I grabbed these for you, too. I know I said . . . well, I know what I said, but. . . ."

Teddy opened the bag and the box, finding a pair of turquoise Chucks. He grinned. "That mean you approve of Chucks?"

James rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't go that far."

Teddy laughed again, closing up the shoes.

"I just know you love them, and I want you to have what makes you happy."

Teddy ducked his head, hiding his goofy grin. "Thanks."

James nudged Teddy's shoulder. "C'mon, McFadden's likely to get arrested without us."

Teddy chuckled, covering his face. "Merlin's nuts, remember Ilkey?"

"We do not need another Ilkey." James linked his arm around Teddy's and pulled him down the street, the bag with the Chucks banging between them.

* * *

~Continued in Part 2.