Better Version of Me

Chapter 12

"All I really, really want our love to do is to bring out the best in me and in you, too." - Joni Mitchell


The train had arrived. Harry leaned, a friend to the stone pillar sticking out from the ground beside him. He had come alone to greet Teddy's arrival. Andromeda had not been feeling her best, and so Harry offered to get him and take him home a few days, not at all burdened.

He kept his eyes searching at the open doors of the train, looking for the trademark blue. Finally, Teddy appeared, and Harry watched as the boy scanned the station with his eyes. When his eyes met their mark, they lit up, and Teddy headed over towards Harry's pillar.

Harry stood up straighter. The last he had seen of him had been one day after the Quidditch match; Harry had come by again to make sure Teddy had recovered. He had, but it was not until after thorough reassurances from the boy that Harry felt that, yes, Teddy was okay. Since that day, it was only the letters that had been exchanged between them that kept Harry sane but not very.

When Teddy reached Harry, he set down his trunk and then fell into his arms. Harry wrapped himself around the boy, breathing him in. The scent reminded him of what happy felt like, and he never wanted to exhale. However, his lungs began to sear, and he let out a relieved sigh. Teddy's shoulders were solid and so real that Harry longed to forget about the people around them.

But, after one longing hand sweep against Teddy's neck, Harry released him and grabbed the trunk's brassy handle.

As they began to roll away towards the exit, Teddy said, "My birthday passed a few weeks ago."

Harry sent him a fond side-glance. "Oh, yeah? Is that what that package I sent you was for?"

Teddy lightly rammed his shoulder against Harry's: they were walking very close.

"Okay, what's so special about your birthday?"

"I was thinking. . ."

"Always scary." This time, Teddy sent a glare his way and again engaged in the shoulder-ramming. Harry found he didn't mind in the slightest.

"You know what happens in England when you're sixteen?" asked Teddy.

Harry raised an eyebrow. "You go into your sixth year at Hogwarts? You take Apparation lessons? You equal four times four?"

"You drive a moped!"

"Is that anything like a motorcycle?" Harry thought back to Sirius's flying motorbike that he rode in with Hagrid. It had been a bit creaky. Harry wasn't sure he felt comfortable with the idea of Teddy riding one of those. Although, he imagined, it couldn't be much more dangerous than flying on a broom; but look where that had landed Teddy a few months ago.

"Sort of," said Teddy. Harry held out his arm when they reached an abandoned alcove in the station. Teddy grabbed onto it firmly, and they Apparated away, feeling the familiar squeezing like going through an airtight tube. They reappeared in Harry's kitchen. "A moped is smaller and doesn't go as fast."

"That so? What do you expect me to do about it?" Harry dropped the trunk with a thud against the wood floor.

"Well, first, help me contact Mr. Weasley because he is the one that told me about it. Figure out what it takes for me to get one. Second, help me get one."

"Is it safe? I'm not sure I want you to have one if you're going to get hurt." Teddy had rebounded from his Quidditch fall quickly enough, but Harry worried about how many lives the boy had left.

"It's safer than a broom," Teddy insisted. Harry wasn't so sure about that. Teddy could just be making up things to make Harry give him his way. However, if he needled his godfather enough, he could get Harry to give in eventually anyway.

"We can talk about this after dinner," suggested Harry, although warily. "I'm taking you out as a belated birthday surprise."

The crafty look on Teddy's face changed to delight. "Where?"

"Barosa's. It's Italian and Muggle. Two things I know you love."

Teddy bounded over to where Harry was leaning against the table. He kissed his cheek soundly. "Thanks," he said.

Teddy had just begun to pull away when Harry grabbed his arm gently and pulled Teddy back so he was mere inches away. Harry brushed his blue hair from his forehead delicately and looked softly into Teddy's gleaming eyes. A force guiding him, perhaps his heart, he leaned forward to brush his lips against Teddy's forehead with barely the wind of a caress. Teddy's eyes fell shut, and Harry felt his heart beat thud noticeably harder.

He withdrew his mouth from his forehead to whisper them against Teddy's. It lasted for a moment that seemed to drag on forever, the only sound in the house their unsteady breathing, and then they tangled their lips together, pliant and moist and forgiving and eager.

It was a silently sweet returning. Teddy's hand had made its way to one of Harry's biceps, the other around his mid back, searching up and down. Harry's arms, too, were now entangled around his godson and knotted tight. Harry felt like a limb he hadn't known he was missing had finally returned and now he could use it and explore it and love it. When Teddy made a sound in the back of his throat, a quiet moan, Harry felt his stomach expand with pleasant heat.

His knotted arms began to loosen and before he realized what he was doing, he had tugged Teddy's shirt out of his pants, and his hands roamed the soft skin of his torso reverently, as though trying to remember every hill and imperfection. Except it was perfection. The perfection of imperfection. It was Teddy's sloppy, loving tongue in his mouth. It was awkward arms reaching everywhere because there were too many places to be. It was running his hands all over Teddy's body, and it felt soft and bony at the same time. It was them.

And the imperfection was only made more perfect when Teddy pulled back to breathe heavily in Harry's face, his cheeks hot and blotchy, and panted, "I bet." He ran his arms up so they circled Harry's neck to pull him even closer so their noses were touching. "I bet I know how to get that moped out of you."

Harry smiled, too contentedly relaxed in this state of bliss to laugh. "Please and thank you."

But then Teddy did laugh, and the perfection was still unbroken. "Good manners will get you everywhere."

Harry's only response was a small smile and a nose nuzzle. He pulled his head back farther so he could look at Teddy properly. He wanted to stare at that face.

"You act more like an animal than me," said Teddy. He rubbed his nose and Harry's nose together to emphasize his point. "And I'm the one with the bad genetics."

Harry shook his head and favored burying his face in his godson's neck to looking at his face for the moment. "There's not one thing encoded in your body that I could not think was utterly, magnificently-"


"I was going for piggy."

Teddy pushed Harry back. He was grinning broadly, but a glint was in his eye. "You were not."

"I was."

"Take it back. You think I'm perfect."

Harry shook his head. "Nobody's perfect." Except you. But that was not to be admitted.

"I know," Teddy agreed. "But you think I am. You think I'm the best thing since sliced bread. You think I'm the hottest thing since that cauldron full of hot, strong love. You think-"

Harry silenced him with a firm kiss. "Be quiet, you ridiculous, conceited Hippogriff."

"Hippogriff?" asked Teddy.

"Cauldron full of hot, strong love?"

"Point taken." Teddy pecked him. "Still perfect."

Harry smiled down at Teddy and felt nothing but that. "You caught me. You're perfect."

"Meant you."

Harry withdrew from Teddy and picked up his trunk once more to carry it to his room. He turned back to look at Teddy who wore such an expression of adoration that Harry was afraid to see what his own face looked like. A mass of goo, probably. He couldn't muster up the effort to care. His brain and heart were goo, too.

"Let's see what you have in here to wear to dinner. It's a nice restaurant," said Harry, raising his eyebrows at Teddy's harried appearance.

Teddy smiled broadly at him and didn't even look down to inspect his loose tie and rumpled, untucked shirt.


"I just had a fantastic idea." Teddy and Harry were outside their home, walking along the lit street. Their home was only a phrase Harry used in his mind, however.

"Does it involve a moped?" asked Harry.

"Potentially," confirmed Teddy. Although Harry said they would talk about the moped after dinner, he was trying to avoid it for his own sanity.

"Let's hear it, then."

The pair reached the edge of a rusty playground. Teddy led them over to the swings and took a seat, pushing his sneakers off the wood chips to start moving.

Harry followed and sat down beside him but didn't start swinging. "Alright," Teddy said, "when I graduate, I was thinking of buying a space in Diagon Alley or somewhere around there. Put in a restaurant. Grow my own plants when I can. . .that sort of thing. Make it really contemporary and chic. Vegetarian." Harry glanced over at Teddy to see him casually swinging with a slight grin. "Also, drive a moped to work everyday."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea. Minus the moped."

Teddy let out a laugh. "Oh, come on. The moped is the best part!"

Harry raised an amused eyebrow at Teddy, and the boy grinned happily back.

"What I meant to say is that the best part is when we drive my moped to work everyday from our home in London and scare all the people of the magical world with our sweet ride."

Harry laughed loudly, but his stomach couldn't help but do a swoop as if he had missed the last step on a staircase. "Oh?" he asked, trying to calm himself. "Am I to be your slave in the kitchen even then?"

"Especially then!" Teddy said. "It's cheap labor, and you would do anything for me!"

Harry sighed dramatically, although he knew it was true. "Well, I suppose as long as you keep me away from the onions, I shall prevail."

"I guess I can sacrifice my own hard work to the onions." Teddy swung up high and jumped off the swing to land smoothly a few feet in front of them. He turned around. "Only because I don't want to hear your whining about them!"

Teddy held out his hands for Harry to take, and, unquestioning, Harry allowed himself to be pulled up.

"Let's stargaze."

"Where?" asked Harry. "We're in the middle of a city."

"Apparate us somewhere. A field or something."

"Oh, yeah," droned Harry. "I just have heaps of fields in my list of Apparating destinations."

Teddy fixed Harry with a stern look, and so Harry gave in and took a moment to think. He grasped Teddy's arm without delay when he decided on a place and popped away to reappear in a wide open field near Godric's Hollow.

Teddy took in their surroundings, the village in the distance twinkling merrily. Harry answered when Teddy held the question in his eyes. "I was born here."

"In this field?" asked Teddy, but there was not much humor in his words. A calm had overtaken them, and Harry felt the serious shift in atmosphere like night and day to the minute before.

Harry gently took Teddy's hand and led them to a patch of grass that lay flat. He conjured a blanket with his wand and lay it down. They did as the blanket did and looked up at the surprisingly clear night sky.

They pointed out a few stars and constellations, glad for the Astronomy lessons they had taken in school to entertain themselves. Harry was a bit rustier than Teddy, however, it having been years since Professor Sinistra's classes and would occasionally say things like "Mars is bright tonight" to lighten the intense mood that had settled upon them.

Teddy sidled up against Harry, and it was a gift that he felt he didn't have to be discreet about it anymore. Harry looked up at the stars and admired their twinkle and beauty. He breathed in the warm, summer air around them and listened to bugs and frogs sing. He felt the breaths flow through Teddy as they lay together on the soft blanket on the cushy ground and wondered at the world.

Somehow, being this happy was something Harry feared. It was almost too good to be true, lying next to his fiercely witty godson looking into the crystal sky. At this moment, Harry didn't know if he could love anything more ever again than Teddy. The connection he felt toward him was magnified in this field and on this blanket made from magic. It stood out clearly even though darkness surrounded them physically.

Maybe this was what living felt like.

Harry couldn't help himself and tore his gaze from the heavens to admire his godson. He was surprised to see the boy looking back intensely. The look setting his heart on fire, Harry reached out and caressed his cheek. "I love you," whispered Teddy, and Harry's gaze softened even more. How many others had been like this? How many had felt this way before him?

Harry leaned forward and claimed Teddy's lips as his own.

Passion escalated between them quickly, as they had felt as though on pins and needles all night, ready to be set off. Harry rolled on top of Teddy, pressing his whole body against him, their curves molding to fit against each other. God, this was unimaginable; and, when Teddy moaned gently into his mouth and his hands slipped under Harry's t-shirt to dig his fingernails into his back, Harry's heart in his chest felt fit to burst.

Harry peeled his mouth away and began to push Teddy's shirt up and over his head. Teddy complied eagerly, almost frantically. Harry understood and felt similarly: they had been together only one time before like that. Harry knew where this was leading, and all the pent up emotions and worries Harry felt towards the boy were just now exploding out in this physical form of showing.

He knew what he had been trying to do: keep Teddy innocent and free, for he was only a boy. But not that young of a boy. He was an old boy and a young man. And yet Harry had forgotten his hold backs in this grassy field. He had left them somewhere in London or at Hogwarts or at Andromeda's house. Yes. Here in this beautiful, ethereal globe they had created this night, only thoughts of wonder were left in Harry's mind and feelings of love left in Harry's heart.

And so he slipped Teddy out of his shirt and pants and himself out of the same. He leaned down to capture Teddy's lips again, worship them and cradle them between his own. He pulled back and looked into Teddy's eyes as his thumbs hooked into the waistband of Teddy's playfully patterned boxers of cats, the creatures roaming all over them. Teddy looked up at him trustingly, although his chest heaved. Harry faltered when he realized his own was rising and falling just as fast. But then Teddy shifted his hips a bit, and Harry breathed in slowly and glided the boxers down his legs, sliding down with them, so Harry was level with Teddy's knees.

Harry looked up again and saw Teddy's eyes shut tightly, perhaps with nerves or embarrassment. Seeking to reassure him, Harry leaned up so that his mouth was against Teddy's ear. "You're absolutely perfect," he whispered as his hands roamed along Teddy's body, being everywhere and yet hardly enough places. "I love you so much. I want you so much." The lust in his words and voice could not be mistaken, but nor could the reverent touches from his hands.

Teddy was everything, and though Harry knew this already, in that moment the weight to those words crashed down around him. He had to give this boy what he wanted and he had to show this boy how much he was wanted.

Teddy let out a badly suppressed moan when Harry's fingers grazed lower than they had been. Harry finally gave in and wrapped his fingers around Teddy's most intimate area. The boy's hips jerked up in reaction, and Harry let his ringed fingers gently slide up and down every crevice, allowing Teddy to get used to him. When Teddy relaxed enough to get worked up, Harry slowly began to kiss down Teddy's torso, biting and tasting. Teddy's breathing was erratic by this point.

When he reached where his hand was, Harry was unhesitating in action to deftly replace his hand with his mouth.

"Harry," Teddy called out, and his hands flailed out, not quite sure where to land, but they finally settled on the back of Harry's head, barely any pressure, hesitant and unexperienced.

"Oh, fuck," Teddy said. "I-I think-" and Harry knew, but he stayed where he was.

"Harry!" And Harry allowed Teddy to buck into his mouth, hot and pulsing and magnificent. When it was over, Harry pulled away and rested his head over Teddy's racing heart.

Harry closed his eyes as he felt Teddy card his fingers through his hair. He felt his own need, but he forced himself to ignore it. He had just given and taken something to and from Teddy, and he felt no need to receive any attention in return.

After a minute, when Teddy's breathing had returned to normal, Harry shimmied his body up so it curled around Teddy's own. Teddy turned onto his side so they were face to face.

Teddy stared at him, and Harry wasn't quite sure what he was thinking. But then Teddy let a small smile grace his face, and he reached out an arm to wrap around Harry.

"I'm so in love with you," the boy said, and suddenly Harry could hear the crickets around them. He had forgotten they existed. "It's incredible, isn't it?"

"Love?" asked Harry, voice scarcely more than a whisper.

"Yeah," answered Teddy. "It's like how we can go from joking around and just talking about any silly thing and then turn around and be close like this, even though we were so close already just talking and-and-how you just loved me like that-I just-somehow, I can't see how anyone else could ever measure up to how you are with me."

Teddy's eyes were shining, even in the dim light of the moon and the stars. "What color moped do you want?" asked Harry, deeply moved by Teddy's words.

Teddy grinned, and his eyes got a bit shinier, and he leaned forward and kissed Harry gently on the mouth.

And Harry knew that even if other people had felt like this, too, it didn't make his feelings less real toward Teddy or less trivial.

The age between them finally met its match, and that match was love and how it made Harry and Teddy invincible.


A/N: Worth my thousand year wait? No? YEESSSS?! Yes.