Title: You Were The Best Thing
Characters: James Sirius Potter and Fred Weasley (II).
Summary: "Brace yourself, Freddie. We're about to start the freefall." James, Fred, John Keats, and falling through the years. / One-shot. For the Taylor Swift Challenge on HPFC.
Prompts: years / brace yourself / "a thing of beauty is a joy forever" / light-hearted / gold / careless woman's careful son / slipping / flashback.
Notes: This was written for Being A Wallflower's Ultimate Taylor Swift Competition over on the HPFC forum. My song was 'Mine' by, obviously, Taylor Swift, and so... this came into being. Rather quickly. Eek?! I love this pairing so much, and I hope you like it too!
It's been a whole year of freefalling and they're still slipping.
"James," Fred protests, and James laughs against his neck. They stumble backwards into the classroom- Fred's knee knocks a desk and James' elbow turns over a leather-bound book - but they are joined at the hip and joined at the lips, so no one can tear them apart if they try.
"Come on, Freddie," James murmurs, and his nimble fingers work at Fred's shirt buttons with skill and ease that Fred doesn't want to think about. "Where's your sense of adventure?"
"Cowering under my bed along with my dignity," he replies drily, but his hands grab James' wrists and he tugs him forward, leaving his mouth deliciously, torturously close. He's a flight risk with a fear of falling, and James is pushing him down.
"Your bed, eh?" James smirks, but his ears are almost glowing red now - a Weasley family trait they both share - and his hands shake.
"James." It's said warningly this time, because there's a whole year between them, stretching and slipping, and if they dare to take off their rose-tinted sunglasses, they'll see that the world is shining gold. And it'll blind them, dears.
It'll tear them apart.
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever," James whispers against his lips, and he tears his hands away, moving them up to rest on Fred's cheek. He leans forward, pressing their foreheads together.
"It's loveliness increases." Fred wraps his arms around his taller boyfriend's (cousin's) neck. "It will never pass into nothingness. John Keats."
"I thought you'd appreciate it," he says, and he doesn't move back.
"I-" He stops. He takes a deep breath. "Look at this. You made a rebel of - of a careless woman's careful son. How ridiculous is that?"
"Your mum wasn't careless," James argues, but it's broken, and they're still shining gold, darlings, they're still shining, they're still - "She was reckless. There's a difference. I fell in love with a reckless woman's careful son."
He looks up, and suddenly Fred is hugging him, and boys don't do that, they don't do that, except for when they do.
So James hugs him back and braces himself, because he knows he's slipping and he's falling, and Fred won't be there to catch him this time.
"I love you," Fred whispers, and it takes so much for him to say those words - all he has is his pride and his name, and Uncle Fred never did this, except for when he did.
"Yeah, well." James strokes the back of Fred's head, like he used to do for Albus and Rose, then Lily and Hugo, and he tries not to think how Fred falls into that pattern too easily and - but Fred isn't like Rose, or Hugo. He's Fred. "Ditto."
/ flashback /
They sit by the water, hand in hand, and silently they promise never to make their parents' mistakes. Years have passed them by - flashed past - and they've waited until this moment.
They've had their summer, their summer of more than fleeting glances and holding hands after reciting John Keats and maybe kissing in an empty train compartment, but it's September now, and the leaves are slipping from their branches, and their time is up.
"You were the best thing..." James starts, but he fades off. They both look out over the water - at the sunlight, shining down on them, streaking James' hair with red and Fred's with gold. Fred gives him a light-hearted smile.
And that is how they end. That is the end of James & Fred; the end of an era, if you will. Sweethearts, they weren't made to last forever. Fairytales don't -
James stands up, still holding Fred's hand, and he kicks a stone into the water. It makes one audible splash and slips to the bottom. James is shaking his head, closing his hazel eyes from behind his trademark square glasses. Fred looks up at him, surprised. This isn't how it goes. This isn't in the script.
"No, that's not the end. We don't get to have that tragic, self-sacrificing moments where we choose family over us, we don't. We are amazing, Fred. I won't throw that away for them," James says desperately.
"You were the best thing that's ever been mine," Fred whispers, and he pulls James into a kiss - there aren't any fireworks, but there are sparks the colour of red and gold. And damn them to hell, but they shine.
"Brace yourself, Freddie. We're about to start the freefall." He pauses, and thinks of slipping. "I'm scared."
"That's rubbish," Fred counters, but Molly and Roxy wave at them from near the castle, and he shakes his head. "You don't get scared, James. You don't." Molly and Roxy turn away, and he exhales, not even realising that he was holding his breath. His hand shakes.
James takes Fred's hand - softly, gently, and oh, if Al could see him now - and he says, "Well, newsflash, babe. I do."
Fred laughs, and they walk back towards the castle. For a second, they don't care if they're seen - their road isn't paved with gold, but they're Fred and James, and, dears, they will shine.
/ flash forward /
"I don't want to leave you," James begs, and they've gone full circle - two years to the day, when they awkwardly held hands and sat in another train compartment and recited John Keats and maybe even kissed in the heat of summer, and a year since they fumbled in an unused classroom and sat on creaky desks and recited John Keats and maybe even said I love you in the heat of forbidden romance.
And now James is back in that train compartment, and he is leaving, gone, to better memories and better times.
He is leaving Fred behind.
"You'll write," Fred tells him, and it's an order. "You'll write and you'll visit and we'll still have holidays. It's only a year. That's nothing."
"Holidays," James spits. "With - with family and other relatives and bloody Al and Lily and Roxy, and - I just want you. I don't want the rest of them."
"That's the thing with family," he says, caressing James' cheek to calm him. "You don't get to choose them."
"Don't they say the same about love?"
"And such too is the grandeur of the dooms we have imagined for the mighty dead," Fred tells him honestly, and he stretches out in the compartment - it's one at the back, as usual, away from prying eyes that are more inclined to watch their own better halves.
"All lovely tales that we have heard or read. That isn't the end of the poem, you know," James tells him, and outside, London steamrolls into view.
"I didn't say it was." Fred looks at him sideways, and James grins back. They're cousins, but they're the best and they're shining gold; they're still bracing themselves for a reality of loving a careless woman's careful son.
They're still slipping - falling, even - but neither of them can bring themselves to care, because darlings, they have each other, and sometimes, the freefall's worth it.