Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter characters, but I do own the idea for the bedtime story. I plan on telling my own children tales like that so they'll grow up knowing that different types of relationships are okay. :)
Genre: Family, slight humour, mild romance (mentioned between Sirius/Remus and Al/Scorpius)
Bedtime Stories about Gay Princes
Tonight was one of the many nights that Teddy Lupin had eaten dinner with the Potters. Two hours after supper, he was in Albus Severus' bedroom, pulling the blankets up to the five year-old boy's chin as he snuggled contentedly against his pillows.
"Teddy, will you tell me a story?" Al requested.
"Maybe." Teddy smiled. "What the magic word?"
Al considered the question for a few moments. This was Teddy that he was dealing with, thus he decided that the arcane term must be: "Chocolate."
"You're right as usual." Teddy retrieved the chair from in front of Al's desk and put it beside Al's bed to sit on. The chair was too small to be comfortable, but Teddy didn't complain. "Would you like to hear about how Harry defeated Voldemort? That's the one Lily wanted to hear when I tucked her in earlier."
Lily was the youngest in the household, so she was required to go to bed first. Al was proud that he was permitted to stay up later, but annoyed that James could remain awake even longer than him. "I like that one," Al said truthfully, "but I want something different."
"All right," Teddy amicably agreed, "different in what way?"
Al thought carefully. "How about a Muggle-style story? You know, with no magic and all?"
Teddy nodded, still smiling. "Sure, Al." He started the yarn as all Muggle fairytales begin: "Once upon a time a long, long time ago in a land far, far away there lived a princess."
"Was she pretty?"
"Yes, she was very beautiful, but she wasn't the brightest Lumos, and she got herself kidnapped by Coma Nibblers."
"They're a Muggle-version of Death Eaters, except they don't want to have something as drastic as death for dinner, hence the 'coma.' They don't want to eat it; they'd rather take a few bites, hence the 'nibblers.'"
"Ah." Al nodded as if he understood. Teddy guessed that the five year-old probably did. Al was unusually precocious, like his namesakes.
"Well, someone had to rescue her, and when the prince from the next kingdom heard about the kidnapping he knew that he was the man for the job."
"Was he pretty?"
Teddy cocked his head at the question since it was a strange one to ask. Of course, Al was odd in many ways, so Teddy took it in stride. "He was more handsome than pretty."
Al nodded again.
"So," Teddy continued, "the prince set out to save the princess-"
Al's groan of frustration cut him off. "Ugh, they're gonna end up marrying each other, aren't they?"
"Well…yes," admitted Teddy. "Do you not want that?"
"It's boring if I can already guess what's gonna happen," the boy groused.
Teddy shrugged. "That's what happens in most Muggle stories. If you want, I could tell you a different story."
"Work with what you've got. Just spice it up."
Teddy turned away so that Al wouldn't see the amused grin on his face. Sometimes, kids said the most unexpected things, and too-smart-for-his-parents'-own-good Albus Severus did precisely that more often than most children.
"Okay." Teddy turned around, face composed once again. "Another prince heard about the unfortunate event too, and felt that it was his duty as a gentleman and a knight to rescue her."
"Was he pretty?"
"No." Teddy shook his head. "Not everyone is pretty, Al."
"Nuh-uh," he said in a know-it-all fashion that he must have learned from Rose, who had adopted it from Hermione. "Everybody is pretty in some way. Sometimes, you've just gotta look harder to see how."
Teddy hugged him around the shoulders.
"What's this for?" asked Al in confusion.
"Just because I love you. You're already shaping up to be a great person."
"Oh." Al mulled the compliment over for a moment before simpering. "Thanks. I love you too, Teddy." He bounced on his mattress that was dressed in werewolf-patterned sheets impatiently. "So, will you finish the story, please?"
Teddy released Al and beamed at him. "Absolutely. The handsome prince and the…secretly-pretty prince both arrived at the Coma Nibblers' fortress on their trusted horses at the same time. The handsome prince was annoyed that someone else wanted to share the glory in rescuing the princess, but the other prince was glad to have help. Together, they defeated the Coma Nibblers and freed the damsel in distress.
"The princess ran to the handsome prince right away, but he didn't want the 'thank you' kiss that she offered him. He'd noticed how well the other prince had fought during the battle, and wanted to exchange swordsmanship techniques. The princes returned the princess to her kingdom, chatting more with each other than with her the entire journey.
"Her parents were glad to see her home safe, and offered to pay the princes for rescuing her. The handsome prince was ready to accept until the secretly-pretty prince declined and said that he was happy to perform a service for such a fine lady. The handsome prince realised that refusing was the more honourable thing to do, and he did so as well."
Filled with curiosity, Al interrupted, "Does declined mean the same thing as refused?"
"Am I using too many big words? I'm sorry." Teddy sheepishly ran a hand through his teal-coloured hair. Hugo frequently complained about not understanding Teddy's extensive vocabulary even though Teddy tried his best to tone it down when he was telling the younger children a yarn.
"Nah, it's just the one word," Al honestly answered. "What's it mean?"
Teddy was relieved that Al and Rose tended to enjoy learning new words. They enjoyed learning almost anything. "Declining is almost the same as refusing. Basically, it's saying 'no, thank you.'"
Al committed this to memory. "So, the next time Granny Weasley asks me if I want any spinach, I could say 'I decline.'"
Teddy allowed Al to witness his chuckle this time. "You could, but I don't think that'll stop her."
"Prolly not," concurred Al mournfully. "Well, what happened with the princes next?"
"They decided that because they'd worked so well together, they should go on more quests to help more people. They rescued more princesses, brought rare herbs from dangerous forests to healers in villages, slew dragons-"
"What?!" Al exclaimed in horror. "Slew them? As in, killed them?"
"Many knights do that in Muggle tales." Teddy wondered if he should have left such violence out of the anecdote. James would've found it exciting, but Al was more sensitive and concerned for others, whether they were fictional or not.
Al surprised him by saying, "Those knights were lucky that Uncle Charlie wasn't alive back then 'cause he never would've let them hurt dragons."
"I'm sure he wouldn't have." Teddy's lips quirked upwards slightly. "Would you like me to continue?"
A minute of serious consideration passed before Al replied, "Only if no more animals get killed."
"No more slain animals," promised Teddy. "Speaking of animals, the princes' horses got along as well as the princes did themselves. Both of the princes respected their steeds, so they took this as a good sign. After spending so much time alone together, and managing to defeat all of the remaining Coma Nibblers with one another's help, the princes realised that they were in love, so they got married and lived happily ever after."
Al frowned in bewilderment. "In love with who? They married who?"
Teddy resisted the urge to correct the five year-old's 'who' with 'whom' and responded simply, "Each other."
"They can't love each other, not in the marrying kind of way," protested Al.
"Why not?" questioned Teddy, inwardly amused at Al's disbelief.
Al pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose importantly and adopted his know-it-all tone again as if he were speaking to someone very dim. "Because they're both boys. Boys fall in love with girls."
"Sometimes, they do," Teddy cheerfully conceded. "But other times girls love other girls and boys love other boys." When Al persisted to appear extremely doubtful, Teddy offered, "I can prove it."
Sitting up in bed, interest plainly written on his face, Al said, "Okay." Teddy pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to Al. It was a photograph of two teenaged males kissing. Al's mouth dropped open, however, his shock quickly turned into analysis. "Is this the handsome prince?" Al pointed to the taller boy in the image, who had broad shoulders and long, dark hair. "And is this the prince that doesn't like glory, and is pretty, but lots of people can't tell that he's pretty 'cause they don't look hard enough?" Al's finger touched the shorter, thinner boy, whose pale skin flushed as his partner held him close.
"I wasn't thinking about them while I was telling you the story, but I suppose that they do suit the roles." The smile didn't leave Teddy's face as he indicated the more muscular lad in the picture. "That's Sirius, and that's-" he gestured to the slender chap "-Remus."
Al had heard of both of those men in the past, so it didn't take him long to cry out in surprise, "Your dad?" At Teddy's confirming nod, Al sputtered, "But-but what about your mum?"
"My parents didn't start dating until after Sirius' death," reminded the metamorphmagus.
"Oh." Al was still attempting to wrap his young brain around a relationship different from his parents', uncles', and grandparents' heterosexual ones. To distract himself, he inquired, "How did you get this?"
"Harry. You see, Harry knows how important it is to have pictures of parents that you've never seen. He didn't have any of my dad, so he went to Grimmauld Place because he knew that Sirius had loads of pictures of the Marauders on his walls. It took him a long time to reverse Sirius' Sticking Charms, but he eventually got them off and gave them to me. I was really happy." Teddy sighed fondly as he remembered. "This photo was stuck behind another one."
Al studied the picture, lost in thought. Eventually, his inquisitiveness piqued again, and he sought information with a child's tactlessness. "Does it bother you that your dad fancied another boy?"
"No," said Teddy seriously. "My parents only knew each other the last few years that they were alive. I'm glad that Dad wasn't lonely for all of those long years before he met Mum, and I hope that Mum had somebody that cared about her before she met Dad, too."
"Yeah, it's good not to be lonely." Al tugged at his messy black hair, which Teddy knew to be one of his nervous movements. "I'm gonna be lonely when you go to Hogwarts next week."
"You'll still have James, Lily, and all of your cousins. Besides, I'll be back for Christmas. There's no reason for you to feel lonely," he consoled.
"I know, but I'll miss you anyway." Al's bright green eyes lit up. "I know! You should wait 'til next year to start school. If you start this year, then you'll have to go alone, but if you wait 'til next year, then Victoire will be old enough to start with you."
"Maybe I would if I could, Al, but that isn't allowed."At the boy's crestfallen expression, Teddy placed his arm around him and added, "I'll write to you. Aunt Hermione says that you and Rose can read sentences already."
Al perked up a bit at that. "Yeah, she told us that we're really advanced," he stated proudly.
"I'm sure you are." He kissed Al's forehead in godbrotherly affection. "You know, even geniuses need sleep."
Al sat up straighter. "I decline," he announced in what he regarded as a sophisticated fashion.
Teddy knew that he needed to be firm if he was going to convince Al to rest, though concealing his amusement at Al's childishly clever audacity was difficult. "Ginny won't let me tuck you in anymore if you don't go to sleep."
Al pondered this claim for a couple of seconds. "All right," he finally submitted, handing Teddy the photograph and laying back down. As soon as he removed his glasses Teddy secured the bedclothes around Al again and turned on the cauldron-shaped nightlight. "Thanks for the story, Teddy. It wasn't boring at all."
Teddy chortled. "You're welcome, Al. Good night."
The next morning while the Potters were eating breakfast, Al and James fought over who got the toy that came in the cereal box.
"Who got it last time?" Harry enquired.
"He did!" declared James and Al at the same time.
Harry sighed and repeated his question to Lily.
Lily played with the girly pink toy that had come in her own cereal box as she contemplated. Yesterday when she had wanted to play, James had agreed to go flying with her in the backyard on their practise brooms that flew only four feet off of the ground, but all Al had wanted to do was read his books on Henry the Helpful Hippogryff. "Al."
Harry instructed, "Albus Severus, let your brother have it this time."
Al didn't disobey, but he crossed his arms sulkily the instant that he released the cheap plastic object. James stuck his tongue out at him in victory.
"James Sirius, don't show bad sportsmanship," Harry warned his oldest child before turning to Al. "It'll be your turn to have it next time."
Al nodded, poking the soggy meal in his bowl absently with his spoon. It wasn't in Al's personality to remain sullen for long. As soon as Ginny asked the children what stories Teddy had told them the previous evening, he immediately perked up. He allowed Lily to go first without argument since he knew that all she was going to do was mention that she'd heard 'Daddy's hero story.' He was ready to fight with James over who got to share next.
Seeming to anticipate the dispute, Harry spoke before either of them could. "James got the toy, so Al can speak first."
Al felt proud of himself that he resisted the urge to stick his own tongue out at James. "Teddy told me that two boys can get married!"
Ginny's magic faltered in her stupefaction and the mug of tea that she'd been levitating over to herself fell to the floor and shattered. "What?" she gasped.
Harry chuckled as he repaired the mug and cleaned up the beverage with a few easy flicks of his wand.
"Really?" questioned James and Lily in unison.
Glad to have their attention, Al nodded enthusiastically and retold the story as best as he could. "In some place that's really old, even older than Granddad Weasley, a beautiful princess got kidnapped. A handsome prince and a pretty prince saved her. She wanted to kiss them, but they wanted to kiss each other instead. They brought her home and declined any gold for helping." He smiled to himself, glad that he'd gotten to share the new addition to his vocabulary. "Then, they went out to fillet dragons and Coma Nibblers. And they all lived happily ever after. Well, except for maybe the princess since nobody wanted to kiss her."
"Gay princes?" Ginny muttered, still seeming out of sorts.
"I'm more interested in how they filleted dragons," commented Harry with a grin.
A dozen years later, Al announced to his family that he intended to buy a flat with Scorpius Malfoy as soon as they graduated.
Ginny sighed. "This is all Teddy's fault, you know," she remarked to Harry quietly. "That bedtime story about gay princes put ideas into his head."
"I'm glad that Al knew early on that being gay was okay, or he might have had a huge sexuality crisis. I don't think our fragile, little house could've handled that." Harry chortled. "Maybe we should thank Teddy that Al found happiness so quickly."
Teddy smiled to himself from where he was shamelessly eavesdropping nearby. "You're welcome."