1) This fic features an older woman/younger man romance dynamic. I understand that is uncomfortable for many fanfic readers, but I don't believe it's fair that people are completely on-board with a younger woman/older man pairing that has the same relative age gap, but suddenly balk and run away when it's reversed. That being said, very simply, if you don't like this idea, please read no further, as I do not deal with harassing comments from people who willingly choose to read something they have already determined they do not like.
2) This fic is NOT CC compliant (and none of my fics ever will be).
3) My characterization for Teddy Lupin is my own, but is inspired by a recent share in the FaceBook Marauders' Fan Group, The Shrieking Shack Society, about James and Sirius losing their shit in the afterlife over Remus' son being a blue haired punk who spends far too much time snogging in dark corners.
4) Updates will be sporadic, chapter lengths will vary (some will near 5k words, some will be under 2k).
5) Epilogue complaint, but the canon compliance literally ends where the books do. Post-DH canon will not apply to anything in this story.
* Yes, my fancast for Teddy Lupin is Tom Hiddleston from when he was in his mid-20s. Hiddles is typically my Remus, and I imagine a strong family resemblance.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any affiliated characters and make no profit, in any form, from this work.
"Will you look at that? He's startin' to celebrate going out to drink by gettin' pissed beforehand," Horatio—Tom's son and now-proprietor of The Leaky Cauldron—said as he eyed the person who'd just stumbled into the establishment.
He'd meant to say it under his breath, but the witch seated directly before him at the bar heard him all the same. Furrowing her brow, Hermione looked over her shoulder.
"Oh, bloody hell," she whispered as she popped off her stool. "I'll handle him."
Shaking her head, she crossed the pub floor and folded her arms under her breasts as she waited for Teddy Lupin to collect himself and straighten to his full height. When he did, she could hardly say she was surprised that he laughed at the sight of her severely arched brow. These were the days she felt she might well be channeling Severus Snape from beyond the grave.
In his inebriated state, Teddy'd lost control of the coveted trait he'd inherited from his mother and his hair was flickering through colors in an almost dizzying whirl.
"'Mione! Why the sour face?"
Her shoulders drooped at his tone. His voice was entirely too chipper, and she recognized this. It was the same way he spoke whenever . . . . "Dammit, Teddy," she said with a sigh. Slipping her hand 'round his wrist, she guided him to a booth. "Honestly, I took a sabbatical to help Rose settle into her new flat, not to look after drunken wizards."
After she had him seated, and sat herself across from him, he held out his hand for service.
"Oh, you must be joking!"
"I most certainly am not," he replied while blinking a few times in rapid succession. As a witch bustled over to take his order, he asked, "D' you want something?"
"I do not!"
Chuckling, he turned a beaming smile on the waitress—who, as Hermione knew she would, blushed and giggled at his flirtatious expression. "I'll just have a pitcher of pumpkin ale, and a shot of Fire Whiskey for the lady."
Shaking her head, the lady in question frowned. "Teddy, I just said I don't want—"
Teddy fixed his gaze on hers and offered an exaggerated pout. "Humor me."
"Fine. One shot," she said, rolling her eyes so hard her lids fluttered.
After the other witch started back toward the bar, Hermione leaned over the table a bit so she could speak quietly. "Do you have any idea how lucky you are that I was here just now? What if you were too drunk to walk? Or if your godfather had been here rather than me? He does come here, too, you know."
Sighing, the young man dropped his attention to the table top. "I know. I just . . . I really don't know what I'm doing, anymore."
"Okay, all right." Hermione shook her head, once more, taking pity on him. "Who was it this time and how did it happen?"
"Marina—?" she echoed frowning in disbelief. Oh, no. "Oliver's daughter. Unbelievable, Teddy."
He shrugged, but at least had the decency to look a bit abashed. "I didn't mean to hurt her, honest. I just knew it wasn't going to work and I told her as much."
Taking a deep breath, Hermione exhaled slow and then asked, "Before or after you found your way into her bed?"
His mouth dropped open as he again shrugged, looking away from her.
"Oh!" Propping her elbows on the table, she pressed her forehead against the heels of her palms. "Teddy! Teddy! You can't keep doing this! Bill still wants to murder you for how you left things with Victoire and that was years ago."
When she lifted her head from her hands, she found him wearing a contrite expression. His mouth twitched side to side as he held back on responding until the waitress had set their orders before them and bustled away, once more.
He knocked back his first pint, setting the glass down and refilling it from the pitcher. She only gaped at how fast he consumed that much alcohol.
"I didn't mean to hurt Victoire, or Marina, or Felice, or—"
"Any of the dozens of women and girls whose hearts you've broken since puberty," she said with a laugh. "I get it. I just don't understand why you keep doing it."
Teddy chewed at the inside of his lower lip in thought. Running his fingertip along the edge of his glass, he sighed. "I just . . . I know this is a shit thing to say, but I can't help it. I'm just good at the physical stuff, it comes natural." He frowned, shaking his head. He'd never been comfortable so openly discussing such things with anyone else, but Hermione always managed to set him at ease without even trying. "The emotional stuff? I'm just a bloody mess with it."
She watched as he turned his attention to her untouched shot glass. Seeming taken with a moment of whimsy, he dropped his hand from his own drink to walk two fingers across the table and nudge her Fire Whiskey toward her.
Picking up her drink, she held his gaze for a moment. "Then maybe just don't for a while." She downed her shot, wincing as she set down the glass.
"What? Don't date?" His speech was starting to slur a bit.
"Yes, that'd be what I mean."
"But . . . ." He frowned again, returning to tracing the rim of his glass. "I'm just . . . I'm so charming, and witty, and even when I try not to attract people, they just sort of pop up. And I know I'm tall and easy on the eyes, which also doesn't exactly help in keeping anyone at arm's length."
"Yes, and let's tack humble onto that list."
Laughing, he shook his head. He spoke slow, trying to keep his words clear. "You know what I mean, I'm not trying to be full of myself."
"I know." Hermione couldn't help a half grin, unable to let him beat himself up for very long at all. "But I do think you're selling yourself short. You're also kind, smart, and thoughtful. And I think that side of you's what needs to come out to play a bit more when you're with someone, not just the side that's tailored to impress people."
"Oh, but that's all so complicated," he said in a petulant tone. Crossing his arms on the table, he dropped his head down. "I just can't . . . it's so trying and so much . . . why can't I just date someone like you?"
Her brows shot upward. "I beg your pardon?" As if someone 'like her' couldn't stand to be with a handsome man who was witty and charming that he had to make some sort of special exception for them?
He groaned, resting his chin on his arm and meeting her gaze. "You know what I mean. Someone who just understands me. Nobody understands me, but you do. You've always understood me."
Hermione sighed. "And you're so drunk you probably can't see straight."
"Hell, I was that drunk when I stumbled in here."
The witch let out a surprised laugh. "Where d'you put it all? Good Lord, man!"
Teddy smirked, still staring up at her with those blue-green eyes of his. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I really am. I'm glad you're here, and I'm sorry I'm such a mess. You don't need this right now."
"Bloody hell," she said in hissing whisper. Clearly he'd heard, but then who hadn't by now? "Teddy, I'm fine. I don't want to talk about my divorce."
He sat up, his brows arching up as he grabbed his glass for a long sip. "People who are fine with things usually don't mind talking about them, you know?"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "You've really been spending too much time around me if this is how you think when you're drunk."
Snickering, he took another long sip as he held her gaze over the top of his glass.
Once more propping her elbow on the table, she dropped her chin into her palm. "I just mean I'm tired of talking about it. Ron and I are on good terms, we parted as friends. It's a tad awkward at family parties, sure, but it's not a painful thing. The pain is that everyone keeps acting like it should be a painful thing, like there's something wrong with me that it's not. I'm sick to death of trying to assure everyone that I'm fine."
"All right, she's fine," he said into his glass.
That was when it happened. His hair stopped flicking through colors, settling into his natural shade. Sandy blond with hints of red, she noticed. Must be the lighting. But he didn't typically let his natural color show. Bit childish for a man his age, but he enjoyed showing off, she thought.
He tilted his head back, lifting his mouth from his glass rather than setting the glass down. "What?"
"Your . . . blond is showing."
His eyes shooting wide, Teddy grabbed one of his wild curls and pulled it down over his forehead to look for himself. "Oh, no."
When he was younger, Hermione always thought his natural color showing was a bit like the low battery warning on Muggle devices—it meant his body didn't have the energy to maintain the display. That he was still so animated just now was likely a byproduct of how very inebriated he was.
"You'll never make it home like this." Shaking her head, she stood up and circled the table. "Horatio? Do you have any vacancies where I can put this one in to sleep this off?"
His shoulders slumping, the proprietor nodded. He went to retrieve a key as she grabbed Teddy's arm and pulled him to his feet.
The wizard stumbled from the booth, nearly knocking Hermione to the floor. Laughing, he steadied her, and himself, before following her guidance to drape his arm around her shoulders.
Frowning, she tipped her head back to look up at him. "Hmm?"
Teddy pursed his lips for a long moment before he managed to find the words he wanted to say. "You're so . . . little."
She held in a scoffing sound. "I'm not little, you simply forget how tall you are when you're pissed."
"No, no, no, shhh," he whispered, pressing his fingers over her mouth in a silencing gesture that was just a bit rougher than he intended. "I don't mean it in a bad way. Just . . . you always . . . you've got such a big personality and such powerful magic that I forget you're actually kind of, well, wee."
Rolling her eyes as his fingers slipped away, she accepted the key from Horatio and started walking a teetering Teddy Lupin to the stairs. "I'll have you know I'm actually average height, but the polite term is petite, Teddy."
She didn't quite know how they managed—what with her wee self supporting his tall, lean frame as he stumbled along—but they made it to Room 13 without tripping over one another, or breaking anything. Hermione was hardly much of a drinker these days, and she couldn't say that she didn't feel the warmth of that shot edging her senses just now. Not nearly enough to skew her judgments, but just enough that she felt . . . nice.
Teddy practically spilled onto the bed, and she immediately straightened up, arching her back as though she'd been carrying some incredibly weighty load for hours. "You're heavier than you look."
He flashed an irreverent grin, his eyes drifted closed. "I'm more muscly than you'd think from a quick glance."
She laughed, shaking her head as she busied herself with removing his shoes and pulling the covers out from under him. "And I see we've returned to you patting yourself on the back."
" But i's true . . . I could show you, see . . . ." His slurring voice trailed off as he clumsily reached for the hem of his shirt.
Her chestnut eyes shooting wide, she dropped the blanket and grabbed his hands. "No, no." Though, she couldn't help but laugh. He was so gone right now. "That's really not necessary."
His shoulders slumped against the mattress. "Oh, all right."
When she let go of him to get the covers, once more, he caught one of her hands in his. Pulling the blankets up over him one-handed, she sighed as she met his gaze.
"Stay 'til I fall asleep?" he asked, sadness edging his tone.
God, he was capable of breaking her heart with his voice, alone, wasn't he? He was just so lonely . . . .
A gentle smile playing on her lips, she nodded. "Of course I will, Teddy."
With a sleepy, but triumphant grin, he scooted over making room for her to sit beside him on the bed. Teddy didn't feel truly at ease, though, until he—his eyes closed, once more—felt the press of her sinking into the mattress. He breathed a quiet, relieved sigh as she shifted back to sit against the headboard.
As he was drifting to sleep, lulled by her unconscious action of delicately sweeping his wild curls away from his forehead with her free hand, he was caught with a spontaneous need to share something with her. The secret was killing him, maybe if he told someone—and as he'd said, she was always the only one who understood him—the burden would ease a little bit.
"Can I tell you something?"
Her brow furrowed. "Of course," she said again.
"I think the reason I can't make things work with anyone is because of my father." His father who he was always told he so resembled.
She studied his near-slumbering face for a moment before she could ask. "Why would you think that?"
"Because of what he was."
"Teddy, the lycanthropy curse isn't hereditary. If it were, you'd have had your first shift long ago."
"I know that. You're the one who suggested I study werewolves, remember?"
Hermione laughed. "Vividly."
His voice was no more than a sleepy tumble of words by now, but he continued, wanting to tell her. "But I mean, something must carry over in the blood, yeah? I feel like it has to, because sometimes I just feel so . . . feral. Like I'm too wild for my own skin."
"I'm sorry, that does sound miserable. Have you talked to anyone about this?"
A smile curved his lips. "I'm talking to you. I don't need some healer to poke about in my brain. I know what's wrong with me, and I know how to fix it."
She narrowed her eyes, a feeling in her gut telling her wherever his thoughts were heading, it wasn't a good direction. "Tell me."
"I'm an animal in human skin. I'm going to find a werewolf and get them to bite me. Let the animal out."
There it was. His words sent a spike of cold through her heart. "What? Teddy, no. That's madness. Your father . . . ."
Her voice trailed off as she heard him snoring. He wanted to become a werewolf? Clasping his hand between both of hers, she looked about the darkness of the room, dappled here and there by moonlight streaming through the windows.
In his state, he probably wouldn't even realize he'd told her this when he awoke in the morning. Drunk or not, he'd shared his secret with her in confidence, and it terrified her. She couldn't betray his trust, but she had to think of some way to deter him from this mad notion of his.
Once more an unconscious gesture, she curled her hands against herself, pressing his fist over her heart. Swallowing hard, she turned her attention to his sleeping face.
"Teddy Lupin, whatever am I going to do about you?"