pretending never calms jealousy

A HariPo drabble

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. I'm riding an AlTeddy kick at the moment; ride it with me. B) Read, review, and enjoy!

- ^-^3

It's a sound that rings in his ears.

Teddy's voice, so soft and soothing: "Lily-white." And Lily Luna beams, because she loves her nickname so much, even though the nature of it seems a bit mean. They were all little when Lily had been caught drawing on the kitchen walls, and she'd turned whiter than a bed sheet when Ginny had caught her. Teddy called her "Lily-white" afterwards, because she'd paled so badly and because that was the color that came to mind when anyone thought of lilies. So Lily-white loves her nickname.

Al's ears burn.

Teddy's voice, so teasing and happy: "Jim-Jam!" And James snickers, because once even he had an embarrassing moment which he's come to regard as a high point in his life. When he'd been a toddler, before even Al had arrived, James had made it known he was going to be a troublemaker, because he managed to spread jam all over himself during one lunch with their parents and Teddy. And even though James thinks he should be called "Jim" now that he's older, now that he claims he's a grown man, he doesn't fight the grin that comes to his face whenever Teddy pulls out that nickname.

And Al wishes he could hear anything but what comes next.

Teddy's voice, so light and innocent: "Al." And that's all there is to it. No background story, no humorous anecdote—nothing. It's just "Al," derived from his first name as easily as "Lilu" was derived from his sister's first and middle ones. And it hurts Al so badly, because sometimes it makes him feel as though he's not part of this family, or worse, that he's not part of Teddy's life.

It's why it feels so numb, so hollow when Teddy sits with him outside at night after dinner, their fingers entwined away from all prying eyes as they gaze up at the stars. It's why it feels so cold when Teddy turns his lips to his ear and decides instead to peck his cheek. It's why Albus can't convince himself that this is all real, that Teddy chose the most uninteresting of the three Potter children to love.

"I'm not simply giving you love," Teddy corrects once Al has the courage to broach the subject. Teddy's eyes crinkle in concern and hurt as he continues, "I'm in love, Al. With you. Aren't you? With me?"

But it's not enough, because this "love" feels as though it appeared from nowhere, as though it's all one big trick, and maybe his cousins, Freddie and Roxanne, are going to pop out any second and exclaim that this was their best prank ever. "All I am to you is 'Al,'" he says, hating how pitiful he sounds. Even for not being an extrovert like his siblings, Al was never much of a crybaby either.

Teddy blinks, his eyes wavering from color to color, and it makes it hard to look at him when his anxiety is so easily viewed. "Of course you're 'Al' to me. What are you on about, Albus?"

Al shakes his head, not wanting to make himself sound any worse than he's sure he already does. But Teddy leans over him, which is a dangerous thing to do when any of Al's family could just walk into the backyard and see them on the deck. Even though James has his own life to live away from home with a spouse and daughter, he's still a candidate for whistleblower on this "love." And Lily's still fresh out of Hogwarts, so that's enough of a reason for her to still be home. On a side-thought, Al notes to himself that he really should move out soon.

"Are you—are you jealous?"

He can feel the heat radiating from his face, and Teddy chuckles and tucks him into his arms.

"Oh, Al… I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you jealous. It's because Lily and James have nicknames and yet I haven't given you a pet name, isn't it?"

Merlin curse him… Why does Teddy have to read him like—oh, the clichés!—an open book? Al frowns into Teddy's chest, but Teddy pushes them apart so that they're nose-to-nose.

"Al, you don't just decide on something like that for your love." He closes his eyes and leans his forehead against the younger wizard's, Al's emerald gaze expecting an explanation. "But, if you must hear it, I've actually had one for a while."

Al perks up, suddenly not caring about anyone walking in on them. "W-what?"

"'Alabaster,'" Teddy breathes against his lips, and it's hard to recall why he was upset with Teddy to begin with as Teddy snogs him like this. When he grins into Al's shoulder, Al bites.

"Okay—why 'alabaster'? And it better not be because I'm pale."

Teddy laughs, and it's a sound that rings joyously in Al's ears. "That's only half of it." Teddy cups Al's cheek with his palm and meets his eyes. "Because I love that moment when your marble barrier turns to rosewood. You are best when you're enjoying yourself, Al."

Al pouts. "So you just like to see me blush?"

The Metamorphmagus shrugs and smiles into another breath-snatching kiss. "But," he states, "if it makes you happy, I won't be so friendly with Lils and James anymore."

Al pauses and sighs. "No…they're your siblings as much as they're mine."

"So we're incestuous now, are we?"

Al takes a play from his sister's book and socks him in the stomach. "Git."

"Okay, okay, I won't say it again…!"

A silent moment passes, but no stars are watched. "Say…it again."

Of course, Teddy knows what he means. "I'm in love with you, Alabaster."

This time, Al's ready to believe it.

- ^-^3

Wow, this ended up being fluffier than planned. I thought it was going to be all angst—but Teddy wouldn't let that happen. ;P Lucky for Al, right? ;]

Thanks for reading, and please review!

-mew-tsubaki :]