HP fic: Better the Instruction (15/22) [Teddy/Andrew, adult]
Title: Better the Instruction (15/22) Authors: celandineb and emiime Fandom: HP Chapter pairings: Teddy/Andrew; references to Remus/Sam, Teddy/Simon, Teddy/Remus. Chapter rating: adult Chapter length: ~9000 words Warnings: Frottage. Summary: Teddy, Andrew, and Simon go to Charon, a gay wizarding club. Note: AU (Remus survived the war). See here for complete story header with all pairings/warnings. Also here.
On Saturday Teddy was restocking packets of porcupine quills when the bell on the shop door jingled.
"Just a moment," he called over his shoulder. He lined up the last several packets, nudged a jar of dried lionfish spine back from the edge of the shelf, and hurried back to the counter.
"Hi, Ted." Andrew looked cold and nervous, his bare hands red and his hair wind-blown.
"Hi." Teddy swallowed. Madam Poyt was in the back room, mixing potions. The only other customer in the shop was browsing amongst the herbs. "What can I get for you?"
"I, um. I know that you can't talk right now, not at work, but would you meet me after?"
"We don't close until six tonight," Teddy told him. It was only midafternoon.
"That's fine," Andrew said. He looked around. "I could use some Draught of Peace, since I'm here."
"What size bottle?" Teddy asked, going over to the proper shelf.
Andrew came and stood behind him. "The medium one. I haven't been sleeping well."
"I'm sorry." Teddy could smell the scent of Andrew's soap, a woodsy fragrance. He reached down the Draught of Peace. "That'll be eleven Sickles." He put the bottle into a carrier bag and rang up the sale, taking a Galleon from Andrew and giving him six Sickles in change, trying to ignore the thrill that went through him when their hands touched.
"Shall I come back at six?" asked Andrew as he picked up the bag.
"Sure. I'm supposed to meet someone, but not until ten." He'd owled Simon and they were planning to go to Charon. It occurred to Teddy that Andrew might have been hoping that Teddy would spend the evening, maybe the night. Well, after a fortnight of silence, he had no right to make any assumptions. Though maybe Teddy was making an assumption about what Andrew expected, too.
"Oh," said Andrew softly. "I see."
Teddy couldn't help but respond to the stricken look on Andrew's face by saying, "Just a friend from school. I'll see you at six."
Andrew seemed to brighten a little at the news that it was just a friend whom Teddy was meeting, but he quickly rearranged his features into an expression of nonchalance.
"Right, well, see you then," he said, heading out the door.
The afternoon dragged by. Teddy couldn't help but watch the clock, and the lack of customers didn't help his nerves. Finally, the minute hand edged its way towards six o'clock, and at five minutes till, the bell on the door jangled and Andrew walked into the shop for the second time that day.
"Hi," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"I'm not quite done," Teddy replied. Madame Poyt had made it clear to Teddy on the day that he began working at Slug and Jiggers that his shift ended when it ended, not ten minutes before, not five, not two. He knew full well he couldn't leave until after six, and the minutes ticked by in silence. Teddy didn't have anything to say until after he heard what Andrew had to say, and he thought that Andrew probably wanted to speak somewhere more private, so Teddy passed the time dusting the counter and the shelves behind it, Andrew browsing among the bins in the front of the store.
At one minute past six, Teddy called a good-bye to Madame Poyt, who was still in the back of the shop, and grabbed his coat and hat and wound his scarf around his neck.
"All right," he said to Andrew. "Where? The Leaky?"
"I rather thought--all right, we can go there." Andrew screwed up his face, clearly displeased with Teddy's choice of venue.
But when the two got to the Leaky, it was packed. Witches and wizards stood shoulder to shoulder, and there wasn't a single empty seat. Teddy sighed and turned around, heading back out into the street.
"My flat," he said. "Meet you there." And he Apparated away without waiting for a response from Andrew.
If he'd half-thought Andrew might not show up, he was wrong. Only seconds after Teddy arrived, there was a loud crack and Andrew stood next to the sofa.
"Have a seat," Teddy cut him off. "I'll get us something to drink."
He came back into the living room with two beers. Andrew was sitting very upright, feet together, hands on his knees, although he'd taken off his heavy coat and put it over the back of the sofa. He looked as if he were waiting to see the Headmistress at Hogwarts, and he didn't relax even when Teddy handed him a beer.
"Okay, then." Teddy plopped down, deliberately casual, at the other end of the sofa and took a long swig. "You wanted to talk."
Andrew wore an odd expression. "Are you going to listen?"
Teddy looked at him more carefully and realised that Andrew was on the verge of breaking down. "I will," he said in a gentler tone.
"Right." Andrew took a deep breath. "I've been thinking a lot about what you said two weeks ago." He looked down at his hands and spoke almost as if he'd memorised what he was saying. "First that you wanted to be able to like me without having to hide it. And then that you didn't care that I'd never really had anything close to a relationship with another bloke before. I'm not sure which one you really meant, or maybe it was both. But what I figured out was that I like you too much to let it go. There's no way I'm ever going to fancy a girl; it just won't happen. And you were right. Even if I could hide for my whole life, I can't make someone else hide too."
He paused and drank from his beer. Teddy watched his throat move as he swallowed, saw how the knuckles of his other hand were white, clenching at his knee.
"I wrote to my parents. I didn't have the guts to tell them in person, but I wrote and told them that I was queer, I had been as long as I could remember, I would never be anything else, and I hoped they could understand that."
Teddy started to say something, but Andrew held up his hand. "Let me finish. My mother wrote back to say that this was a terrible shock and they'd have to have time to think about it, and would I mind not coming home for Christmas, under the circumstances. She'd find an excuse for my sisters." He was still staring downward. "The letter arrived just this morning."
A thousand replies came crowding into Teddy's mouth all at once; he choked on them, then chose the simplest.
Andrew nodded. "I know. It's what I thought it would be, pretty much, though I didn't exactly expect to be kicked out of my own family's Christmas. Guess I'm not the only one in my family with the ability to shock." He twirled a finger in the air halfheartedly, as if sarcastically cheering for his mother.
Teddy bit his lip to prevent himself from saying anything else right away and clenched his free hand in a fist to keep himself from reaching out to Andrew just yet. He took a long swallow of beer, then set the can on his knee, studying the darker rings it made on the tan fabric of his trousers.
"I'm so sorry," he finally said, looking up at Andrew. "I can't imagine. This must have been a really shit few days for you."
"Just the one day, actually," Andrew replied. "The others were just halfway shit. At least there was the possibility, the days before today, of my parents having some sort of--what's the word--epiphany, I guess, that poofs aren't all bad. Know what I mean? But they didn't. So..." Andrew trailed off, running his hand through his hair.
"At least you told them," Teddy said, softening a bit. Andrew was really hurting, he realised, more than Teddy had known at first.
"Yeah, fat fucking lot of good it did me."
"Listen--" Teddy moved closer to Andrew on the sofa, then placed a tentative hand on his shoulder. He took a breath, debating a thought that had occurred to him the first time Andrew had mentioned Christmas. Come to my dad's, the Hufflepuff part of him wanted to say, but Teddy overrode his instinct and decided to wait.
"Listen," he repeated. "You've got to at least feel good that you had the bollocks to tell them. Nothing to be done about it now--and their reaction's their problem." He said this last with more vitriol than he'd intended, suddenly hating Andrew's family, though he'd never met them and now probably never would.
"Well, they've made it my problem," retorted Andrew, and Teddy had to concede that that was at least a little bit true.
"Okay, they have. But it could still work out, once they get used to it." Teddy bit his lip. "Maybe it won't, I know. I suppose you can blame me for this."
Andrew knuckled his eyes. "Believe me, I'd like to. I feel like the world's worst son."
"You're not." When Andrew didn't respond at all, Teddy repeated, "You're not. Telling your parents the truth doesn't make you a bad son at all. I mean, it's not like you're out there molesting goats or something."
That brought a rather watery chuckle. "I'm not sure they don't think that I do that, too. But yeah."
Encouraged, Teddy went on, "I think you were really brave to tell them, Andrew." He moved his hand around to Andrew's other shoulder and shifted closer, giving him a one-armed hug, feeling how tense Andrew was. "Braver than I was, since I knew there was a pretty good chance my dad would accept it, given his own preference."
Andrew let out a long sigh. "I guess I had to do it... but I really hoped I was wrong about how they'd react. I wish I hadn't been. Maybe I should have waited a few more weeks, just till after the holidays. The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty miserable. We don't even have any training scheduled until after the New Year, so no distractions."
"What were you going to be doing, before your mum sent you that letter?" Teddy asked.
"Oh, shopping for the last presents I wanted to give my family, probably. I was going to go to them on Thursday, stay for a week or so." Andrew sighed again. "Nothing really exciting, but all the traditional sorts of family things. Decorating the tree. Carol-singing. All that. Now..." He shrugged.
Teddy decided that he might as well go ahead. "I have to work all next week, but Madam Poyt closes the apothecary shop at noon on Christmas Eve, and I'll go to my dad's then. If you'd like to come too, I'd really like to have you there. I don't expect we have exactly the same traditions as your family, but it'll still be a family Christmas, if you want to be part of it."
"Are you sure?" Andrew tilted his head, glancing sideways at Teddy. "Your dad won't mind having someone else around?"
"Positive. Sam will be there; only fair for me to have a friend too, right?" Teddy gave Andrew's shoulders another squeeze. "I'll just tell him that you weren't able to go home this year. He won't make any fuss about it." He paused, then added, "I really missed you. I wanted to owl you to make up, but I hadn't quite gotten over all my stubbornness yet. I'm sorry."
"I--wow. Thanks." Andrew paused, swiping at his eyes again, and Teddy pretended not to notice. "I'm sorry, too," Andrew said then, "sorry it took me so long to figure out what I had to do."
Teddy shrugged. "It's all right," he said, though he'd felt nothing even close to all right whenever he'd thought about Andrew over the last fortnight.
"If you like," said Andrew slowly, twisting his hands together, "and, I mean, only if you like, all right? I was thinking maybe we could try this whole thing again. Start over, sort of. Maybe we began it wrong--I've never begun anything before that didn't end the same night, you know? I wasn't exactly expecting anything good to come of it."
Teddy considered this. He'd enjoyed the time they'd spent together, and they'd been well on their way to becoming good friends--with excellent benefits--but he'd also enjoyed his encounter with Simon, and he had those plans to go to Charon later. He frowned, then shrugged. It wasn't as though they were getting sodding engaged or anything. They were just going to try again. Start slow. Right, then, he could do this.
"All right," he said, sticking out his hand, "Teddy Lupin."
Andrew turned and smiled, regarding Teddy's hand for a long moment, then he took it. "Andrew Pilkington. Pleasure to meet you, Teddy Lupin."
"The pleasure's mine, I assure you," Teddy replied in his snootiest voice, then he smiled back at Andrew.
"Seriously," he said, "Christmas at my dad's, all right? It's about the worst thing I can think of, you being alone on that day. And you and I don't have to be--whatever--for you to experience the Lupin family Christmas." But we could be, he added silently. He wasn't sure he was ready to say that out loud quite yet.
"I'll absolutely be there," said Andrew. He turned his head away for a moment, still holding Teddy's hand. When he turned back, his eyes were bright.
"You've got to--I should leave," he said suddenly, and Teddy furrowed his brow.
"You said you had to meet someone tonight. You should probably get ready, and I'll go."
"It's not even eight, and I'm not meeting Simon till ten." Teddy brushed his thumb across Andrew's wrist. "If you wanted to come with us, you could. We're going to a club; neither of us has been to one of those places before, and we figured it would be more comfortable if we went together, know what I mean? But if you're not up for it, that's fine, really. In any case you can have some dinner here. Nothing fancy, I was just going to make beans on toast or something, but I'd like you to stay for that."
"Okay. I'll have dinner." Andrew's lips quirked in a little smile that Teddy was glad to see. "Maybe I can help come up with something more interesting than beans on toast."
"Probably," Teddy agreed.
"About going to this club, though, I don't think I'm ready for that. Not wearing the right sort of clothes."
Teddy looked him over. "Your trousers are all right. I could lend you a shirt, although it might be rather tight on you." Not that a tight shirt on Andrew would be a bad thing.
"I--let me think about it for a bit, okay?"
"Sure. You have till I leave." Teddy stood up, pulling Andrew with him. "Think about it while we make dinner."
Andrew found eggs and cheese in Teddy's refrigerator, and a somewhat tired onion, and said he could make an omelette out of those if Teddy made toast. He heated a tin of tomatoes, too.
When they sat down to eat, Teddy took a bite and grinned. "Want to resume those cookery lessons?"
"Omelettes aren't as easy as they look," Andrew warned him. "It would take a while before you were up to making one."
"That's all right." Teddy ate some more. "I'd be learning other stuff along the way."
"You would." Andrew picked up a forkful of his own omelette and ate it thoughtfully. "I think we have a lot we could teach each other. Not just in the kitchen."
Teddy choked on the bit of omelette he'd just put in his mouth. He pounded on his chest. He could feel his face turning red.
"Um, yeah," he said once he'd recovered. "We definitely could. Both of us. Teach. The other." He was aware that he wasn't managing to string his sentence together very well, and he cleared his throat and tried again.
"Sorry," he said. "It went down the wrong way."
Andrew was grinning at him.
"What?" said Teddy. Andrew's gaze was making him blush a little. He felt around his mouth. "Something on my face?"
"Nah," said Andrew, "I just--it's really nice to see you again." He ducked his head after his pronouncement, and Teddy felt himself grinning as well.
"Same here," said Teddy. He took another bite of omelette. "So, have you decided about the club?" he asked when he'd chewed and swallowed his bite.
Andrew frowned. "I really don't know if I'd be any fun at a club," he confessed. "I'm complete shit at dancing, and, well, I know I finally managed to tell my parents, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily ready for the rest of the world to know. I mean, what if someone from the team saw me there? I'd be fucked, that's what."
Teddy cocked his head. "If someone from your team sees you at Charon," he said, pointing his fork at Andrew, "then I think the two of you would have a lot to talk about."
It took Andrew a moment to catch on. "Oh," he finally said, "I guess that's true, isn't it?" He still appeared nervous, though, sitting back in his chair and hugging himself.
"And, listen," Teddy continued. "Nobody's actually good at dancing, I don't think. But what people are good at is drinking large amounts of alcohol so they think they're good at dancing. That's my own plan, quite honestly."
Andrew was smiling, and Teddy went on. "Besides, I think dancing's a lot like sex. And, if you don't mind my saying so, um, based on experience? I think you might be a fast learner on the dance floor."
"Flatterer." But Andrew's smile broadened. "I guess I could go. I don't have to dance, I suppose."
"Nah. You could guard our drinks if you'd rather." Teddy put his fork down on his empty plate. "That was really good."
"Thanks," said Andrew, and ate the last bite of his own meal. "All right, then. If you'll lend me a shirt. I don't think a blue-striped button-down is quite the thing."
"Probably not," Teddy agreed. "I've a black pullover; it's a little long in the arm for me so it ought to be all right, though it'll be tight across the chest, I suspect."
He piled the dishes in the sink and left them, then went to find the shirt for Andrew.
"Not too bad." Andrew swung his arms to test it.
"Looks good on you," Teddy told him. The clinging fabric showed off Andrew's muscled chest very nicely. His fair hair hadn't been trimmed lately, and nearly came to his shoulders in a way that might have looked unkempt on some, but made Andrew look windblown, as if he'd just come from the Quidditch pitch.
Andrew flushed. "Can I leave my shirt here? I'll bring yours back tomorrow."
"Or you could come back tonight. If you feel up for it," Teddy added quickly. If they were going to try to start over, perhaps they should take it more slowly.
"Yeah." Andrew sat on the bed and watched as Teddy finished buttoning up a pair of black jeans, and then found a brilliant blue shirt to wear, changing his hair to match it. "Ted?"
Teddy turned. "What?"
"Never mind," said Andrew, looking embarrassed.
"Come on, tell me."
"I was just going to say that you look really hot like that," Andrew muttered.
"Oh--thanks." Teddy rubbed the back of his neck and looked at his shoes. "Um, I guess we're both ready, then. You can leave your coat here, too--I don't think we'll want to be bothered with them once we're inside. If there's a line, it might be a bit cold, but maybe we--well--never mind. Let's go, shall we?"
Andrew nodded, taking a deep breath and blowing it out. "Ready as I'll ever be."
"Okay. Hold on; I'll Apparate us. Unless you know where you're going?"
"No--I'll hold on." He took Teddy's arm, and Teddy pulled him close, marvelling at the contact when only a couple of hours ago they'd been relative strangers--enemies, practically.
Teddy concentrated, and they Apparated to right outside the club. Charon pulsed with music and life, and Andrew stayed close to Teddy as the two of them surveyed the building and the small crowd gathered outside.
"Not too bad--looks like we'll be able to get right in," said Teddy.
Andrew nodded and leaned close. "Where's your, um, your friend?"
"I don't--oh, my god. Um--there," Teddy said, indicating Simon, who was approaching them, grinning. Simon wore trousers that were so tight Teddy wondered how he was breathing, and a simple white shirt that clung perfectly to his small frame, unbuttoned just enough to let a little of his chest hair peek out. Teddy wondered how such a simple outfit could look so delicious on a person.
"Ted," said Simon, hugging him, "I'm so glad you're here. I've been too nervous to go in. I smoked two cigarettes, and I don't even smoke. Got them from that bloke over there. Hi--who're you?"
Teddy grinned. Simon was kind of cute when he was nervous.
He glanced at Andrew, who nodded. "This is Andrew," Teddy said, "a good friend of mine. He's like us--and he's never been to a club, either, so I said he could come along tonight. I hope that's all right."
Simon nodded, visibly flicking his gaze over Andrew's fit frame. "I should say so. Strength in numbers, and all that." He wiped his palms on the arse of his trousers. "God, I'm a wreck. Let's go get pissed."
There was a cover charge to pay, and then they were inside the smoky room that was larger than Teddy had expected, and fuller, too.
"Drinks first?" he suggested in a half-shout over the thumping music, and the other two nodded. "I'll buy the first round."
With pints in hand, they found a tall table to stand at that hadn't yet been claimed, probably because it was a bit out of the way.
"Ohmygod, do you see that?" Andrew said into Teddy's ear.
Teddy looked in the direction that Andrew was, and saw a bloke wearing almost nothing except a few leather straps and gyrating in a way that left very little to the imagination. "Wow. But look, most people are wearing pretty regular clothes, like us. See there."
Simon had already half-finished his beer, and he took another gulp. "I think we fit in okay."
"Definitely," said Teddy, although the fact that they were all drinking and not dancing was maybe a little different, but there were others doing the same. There were some women, too, dancing with each other; Teddy hadn't really thought about that, but he realised he shouldn't be surprised. He drank some more, and felt himself start to relax a little from the alcohol.
"Another round?" said Simon as soon as he'd finished his.
"Sure," Teddy agreed, though he still had a bit left, as did Andrew. Simon went to get them, and Teddy watched his arse as he walked.
"He's quite good-looking," said Andrew.
"Simon? Yeah, I suppose he is." Teddy wondered if Andrew guessed that Teddy had been with Simon... or if Andrew himself were attracted. Simon was much more prepossessing like this than he had been in school robes, that was for sure.
"Someone tried to chat me up at the bar," were Simon's first words when he came back.
"Why didn't you stay then? That's what we're here for, more or less, isn't it?" Teddy took his fresh pint from Simon.
Simon snorted into his pint. "Um, well, for starters, he was old enough to be my father. And trust me, I have enough issues in that category as is--I don't need more, thanks."
This sent Andrew into peals of laughter, and Teddy forced himself to join in a moment later--it was funny, and just because Simon wasn't the only one with daddy issues didn't mean Teddy couldn't laugh as well, separating himself for the night from all that he'd done with his own father.
"Well, we have all night," Teddy pointed out, "and it's not as if we fail if we don't each leave with someone, either." He flicked his gaze to Andrew after he'd said this, but Andrew didn't look upset at all. Good. Teddy was definitely willing to start over with Andrew, if that was indeed what ended up happening, but he couldn't help but be intrigued by the selection of gay men who were all right there, and many of them quite good looking--and he suspected that was the case with Andrew, as well.
"If none of us find anyone, we could all leave together," said Simon, his cheeks pink. He'd was finishing his second pint--Teddy and Andrew were only a third of the way through theirs.
Teddy raised his eyebrows. Andrew coughed. They both stared out at the dance floor for a long moment.
Teddy would have been lying to himself if he'd said Simon's idea hadn't intrigued him, but he pushed the idea aside--that would only complicate things further. And besides, as he'd said to Simon once before, Simon would probably end up with six or seven boyfriends by the time the night was over.
Teddy didn't doubt that Andrew would get noticed, either--he was the picture of youthful masculinity, there in the corner in Teddy's black shirt, nursing his pint.
"Hey, Andrew--what do you do?" Simon asked, scooting his stool a little closer to Andrew's. Andrew immediately looked over at Teddy, and Teddy shrugged and nodded at him. Andrew was going to have to start handling things on his own.
Andrew took a deep breath. Teddy wondered if this coming-out was maybe harder for him in such an environment. "Well--I play Quidditch," he said. "Reserve chaser, um, for the Prides."
"Oh," said Simon, tipping his head back and draining the dregs from his pint. "I don't really follow Quidditch--sorry. I was never any good at it in school--but I'm sure you're brilliant."
"Reserve Chaser," Andrew clarified, but he was smiling at Simon's offhand compliment. "How about you?"
"I work at the Ministry." Simon rubbed his nose. "I'm a file clerk in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. It's not really very exciting; I mean, there are some interesting cases, but they're confidential."
"But there's prospects for promotion, right?" Teddy asked.
Simon nodded. "I suppose. It pays the bills right now, anyhow. That's what mattered when I took it."
"Less chance of injury on the job than I have." Andrew's voice was a little rueful. "I don't get to play too often, but even practises can be brutal when the Beaters are on their game."
Teddy left them chatting and went to fetch the next round. The barman was busy, and he had to wait several minutes.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
The man speaking had Weasley-red hair, but Teddy didn't think he was one of that family; Teddy knew all of the Weasleys, after all, and this man looked too young to be any of them, only about ten years older than Teddy himself, he guessed.
"Um, I'm here with a couple of, of friends," Teddy stammered.
"That's okay," the man said with a smile. "I'd like to buy you one anyhow. I'm Charles, by the way. What's your name?"
"Er, Ted. I guess so, if you want." Teddy wasn't quite sure whether he wanted to turn down the offer or accept it, but the latter seemed easier. "We were drinking bitter."
Charles nodded, waving at the barman. "I haven't seen you here before, Ted."
"How do you know?" Teddy said instantly, but Charles only chuckled.
"I'm here pretty much every night. Believe me, I'd know if I'd seen either you or your two blond friends--you're a rather striking trio, you realise. Hard to overlook."
Teddy bit his lip. "Um. Thanks?"
Charles laughed. "I speak only the truth." The barman came over and Charles ordered pints of bitter for himself and for Teddy, then glanced over at the table in the corner.
"Make that four, actually," he called, and the barman nodded, and soon Teddy and Charles were on their way back, carrying two pints each to the table where Simon and Andrew were engrossed in conversation.
Teddy felt decidedly uncomfortable approaching the table with Charles by his side, especially when he caught the look on Andrew's face. He decided, however, to pretend as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
"Um, this is Charles," he said by way of introduction. "Charles--Andrew and Simon."
The three exchanged greetings and handshakes, and Teddy sat on his stool again. Charles, however, stayed standing, sipping casually from his pint as if this were a completely normal situation for him. Which, Teddy supposed, it probably was. He'd said he came here nearly every night, after all.
"Well, Ted," Charles said then, taking a gulp from his pint and setting it on the table, "I was thinking maybe you and I could have a dance. What do you say?"
Teddy looked back and forth between his friends and Charles several times.
"Oh," he said finally, "well, I don't know if--" He made a vague gesture that could have meant nearly anything.
"Andrew and Simon won't mind watching our drinks--will you, gents?" Simon nodded and, after a moment, so did Andrew, leaving Teddy with no choice but to follow Charles out onto the dance floor. He looked back at his friends helplessly as Charles led him away from the table--he wasn't nearly drunk enough to do this. Fuck. Teddy knew perfectly well that he was not a dancer.
They stepped onto the edge of the dance floor, and Charles bent close to speak into Teddy's ear--the music was much louder out there.
"You much of a dancer, Ted?" Teddy shook his head, mesmerised by the dancing that was going on--some people were dancing perfectly normally, but there were a few couples who were practically having sex there on the dance floor.
"Well, don't worry," said Charles. "You're with one of the best dancers in this whole club. Just follow me."
The beat was strong enough that Teddy was able to move to it, though he felt jerky and awkward, especially watching Charles, whose fluid motions managed to be incredibly sensual without ever quite becoming crude.
"Relax." Charles pulled Teddy closer, draping his arms around Teddy's shoulders and insinuating one knee between Teddy's legs. "Let yourself go; the music will tell you what to do."
Just then the tune changed, becoming mellower, sexier, and Teddy realised that the nearness of Charles's body, the tang of his sweat, was causing a reaction that wasn't at all what he was ready for. He swallowed hard and said, "Just one more song."
Charles nodded agreeably, although his fingers were brushing Teddy's neck in a way that suggested he had more in mind than just a dance. By the end of the song, indeed, Teddy was in no doubt that Charles was interested in doing anything with Teddy that Teddy might be willing to do.
"One more?" Charles suggested. "Now that you're a bit more accustomed to it?"
Teddy craned his head to see their table; only Andrew was still there. He caught sight of Simon on the dance floor with a dark-haired man. "Um, maybe later? I'm a bit thirsty," he excused himself lamely.
"I'll hold you to that," said Charles in his ear, then kissed him there, making Teddy jump. "New faces always interest me."
With his face flaming, Teddy made his way back over to Andrew.
"You looked as if you were enjoying that," said Andrew, his face turned slightly away.
"It was all right, I guess. He seemed a nice enough bloke, but I'm really a crap dancer. I felt like an idiot mostly." Teddy picked up his beer, still nearly full, and drank off almost a third of it. "Sorry to have stranded you."
Andrew shrugged. "Simon went off for a dance right after you did. Someone came and asked me too, but I'd said I'd watch the drinks, so I said no."
"Hey." Teddy touched Andrew's arm. "You didn't have to do that, if you wanted to go."
"I said I'd watch the drinks," Andrew repeated. He finished his pint and reached for Simon's abandoned one. "He doesn't look like he's coming back again anytime soon," he said by way of explanation.
Teddy thought that was fair enough, and he eyed the pint that Charles had left on their table, then scanned the room--the redhead was nowhere to be seen. It mightn't have been the most polite thing to do, but Teddy reached across the table and took the pint, downing nearly all that was left before either he or Andrew spoke again.
"Simon's having a good time out there," Andrew said, gesturing towards the dance floor. Indeed it looked like he was; he was wrapped around a different man from the one Teddy had seen him with earlier, gyrating to the beat of the music.
Teddy drained the last of the beer in front of him, then grabbed Andrew's hand. "Sod this. Let's go."
Andrew jerked his hand away. "Go where?"
"Let's dance. No excuses." Teddy tugged Andrew onto the dance floor just as a slower song began playing, a song with a beat that Teddy could almost have sworn was coming from inside himself.
"Ted, I don't know how to dance, I really don't--" Andrew protested, but Teddy just wrapped his arms around Andrew's neck and pressed their bodies together.
"Just move," he whispered in Andrew's ear, much as Charles had done to him not too much earlier, "and don't worry--you can't possibly be a worse dancer than I am."
That brought a smile to Andrew's face, and though he murmured something that sounded like I doubt that, he put his arms around Teddy's neck. They began to sway to the music, not moving much, just letting the music and the noises of the crowd wash over them.
Teddy let his eyes flutter closed, just breathing in the scent of Andrew, so near and so warm. If he moved his head just a little, he could kiss Andrew's neck--but no, he really shouldn't, not here where everyone could see. That would only scare Andrew, probably, and wasn't that how they'd begun the first time? Snogging in a gay club wasn't exactly different from snogging in a pub. It was still public.
And there was Simon to think about, too--not that Teddy was thinking about Simon, but Teddy thought it probably wouldn't be any fun for Simon to be the odd man out. No, he'd stay just as he was, just holding Andrew and moving to the music. Teddy had seen what happened when he rushed into things without thinking.
This felt right. He leaned his head into Andrew's neck and pulled them closer still, their bodies aligning. He could feel Andrew relaxing, beginning to move with him a little more freely. The lyrics of the song were shite, but that didn't matter, it was the beat, the melody, that drew them along.
"See?" he said in the relative quiet of the final bars. "You're not so bad."
As the next song began, much faster, Andrew rolled his eyes. "Just wait." But he stayed, dancing with more determination than grace.
Maybe he was worse than Teddy, but not by much--and Teddy didn't care as long as they were both making the effort. They stayed out for several more songs, finishing with another relatively slow one. By now they were both sweating and when Teddy put his arms around Andrew again, his shirt was damp under Teddy's fingers. Why that was such a turn-on Teddy didn't know, but he wasn't sure how he'd make it off the dance floor sporting an embarrassing bulge in his trousers. He tried pulling his hips back, but Andrew wouldn't let him. Oh. Teddy realised that he wasn't the only one with that issue, and looked up to see that Andrew had gone a bit pink, visible even in the strange flashing light.
"Yeah, I know," Andrew mumbled.
He steered them, still dancing, towards their table. Teddy spotted Simon again, with yet another man.
"I'm thirsty; my turn to buy," said Andrew when they had reached the edge of the floor. Teddy nodded and went to perch on his stool. Luckily no one had taken over the table. He watched the dancers, distracted by the insistent throb of his erection, and surreptitiously tried to adjust his clothing.
"Here," Andrew said, setting down two pints. "When Simon comes back I'll get his."
"He seems pretty busy," said Teddy. Simon was now dancing with Charles, which mightn't be a bad thing, Teddy decided. He'd been nice enough, and not too old, and in other circumstances Teddy might well have been keen on him but he'd rather be with Andrew tonight, and he wasn't sure how to say no to Charles effectively.
"True." Andrew had pulled his stool around so that his arm brushed Teddy's. "Do you think he'll want to stay much longer?"
"No idea; he'll come back for another drink at some point, I'm sure, and we can ask."
The two of them sat in silence for a while--as much silence as could be found in Charon--just sipping at their pints and occasionally brushing against each other. Teddy wasn't sure if Andrew was brushing against him on purpose or not, but he knew that his own movements were definitely not accidental.
When Simon finally took a break from dancing, he returned to their table with his fringe plastered to his forehead with sweat, his white shirt nearly transparent. He blew out a long breath, grinning, and hopped up on his stool.
"I," Simon declared, "am exhausted. And quite drunk. And having a brilliant time so far."
"So we noticed," replied Teddy, grinning. Andrew said nothing, just slipped from his stool and made his way towards the bar, presumably to fetch the promised pint for Simon.
"Any, er, prospects?" asked Teddy, nodding towards the dance floor.
Simon shoved his damp fringe off his face, turning slightly pink. "Nah," he said, "I was just having fun out there, you know? I didn't exactly expect so many blokes to want to dance with me."
Teddy raised his eyebrows and leaned closer to Simon. "I hate to say I told you so, but, well, I did. Besides, you look sodding gorgeous tonight, and you know it." The words rushed out of Teddy's mouth before he had realised what he was going to say, and he felt himself turning pink. "I'm glad you're having a good time," he finished lamely.
"I am," said Simon, giving Teddy an odd look for a fleeting moment, then smiling at him. He turned his head away, ostensibly looking for Andrew, then turned back and reached for Teddy's pint. "Mind if I have some? I'm dying, and I don't think Andrew's going to get anywhere close to that bar anytime soon."
Teddy nodded, and Simon drank deeply from Teddy's pint.
"Hey," Simon said when he'd finished. "What about that bloke you were telling me about? The one you said you really liked, but he was too afraid to be open about being queer?"
Teddy sat back, considering his answer. "What about him?" he finally asked.
Simon shrugged. "Dunno. I was just thinking, it's odd, you know, the three of us, being here where everybody is open--even I feel comfortable. That red-haired bloke I was dancing with was touching my arse, and--and it was okay, you know? And I'm having a great time. I feel all right. I guess I just wish everyone could feel this good. Even your friend--whassisname."
"Maybe he will, sometime," said Teddy, avoiding saying a name. Simon would probably figure it out eventually, but better not tonight when he was drunk enough to be indiscreet.
"You looked like you two were all right dancing," Simon said.
"It was okay. Compared to some of those blokes, though..." Teddy jabbed his thumb toward the dance floor.
"They just have more experience." Simon coughed and blushed. "D'you mind?" he asked, lifting Teddy's pint again.
Teddy shook his head and Simon took another swallow.
"Look, Simon, if you did find someone you wanted to, you know, spend time with," Teddy felt slightly ridiculous mouthing the euphemism, but he wasn't up for saying you wanted to fuck when he was pretty certain Simon wouldn't be ready for that, and you wanted to kiss sounded far too schoolboyish, "don't worry about me, or Andrew. I mean, we came here to see what it was like, but also maybe to meet blokes, right, so you should go ahead if you did. Meet someone, that is."
Simon grinned. "No fear. And same goes for you... although I'm thinking there might be something between you and Andrew, yeah?"
"Yeah, maybe." Teddy smiled, looking down at the table.
"He's a looker. I'm surprised no one's come on to him," said Simon.
"Someone asked him to dance right after you first started," said Teddy. "But he's a bit shy, more than you or me even. So I made him dance with me instead."
At that point Andrew finally returned with the drinks; he'd gone ahead and brought another three, waving aside their protests that it wasn't his turn. "We can settle up later, if it matters," he said firmly.
Simon tossed back a good half of his pint rapidly. Teddy worried a little about that, Simon being relatively slight, but he seemed all right so far. "I'm going to dance again. You?"
"Not yet," Teddy demurred, and Andrew shook his head also.
As Simon slid down from his stool, Charles appeared. He gave Teddy a wink and a shrug, as if to say, "Never mind after all," and smoothly led Simon out to the dance floor.
Teddy nudged Andrew with his elbow. "How much longer do you think you want to stay?"
Andrew shrugged. "I don't know--I'm probably not going to get asked to dance again. I was actually thinking of leaving."
"Don't be such a miserable bastard, Andrew. I'd dance with you all night," Teddy replied.
Andrew raised his eyebrows. "You would?"
"Didn't it seem like it, when we were out there?" Teddy knew there was no way Andrew could have forgotten the fact that they'd both gotten hard on the dance floor.
Andrew nodded slowly, drinking. "I suppose so," he said then. "Did--is that what you want to do?"
Teddy shook his head. "I'm pretty tired," he confessed, "and more than a little sweaty. I thought maybe we could get out of here. Unless you wanted to?"
"Nah. I need to breathe. Let's go," Andrew replied. They slid off their stools and Teddy scanned the dance floor for Simon, finally catching sight of him in the arms of a slightly older man with a shaved head and a black goatee.
"Um, maybe we should rescue Simon first," Teddy suggested, moving towards the dance floor. "You wait here--I'll be right back." He made his way through the throng, finally reaching Simon and his partner. He tapped Simon on the shoulder, and Simon whirled around.
"Ted!" he shrieked, and he threw his arms around Teddy's neck, trying to get him to dance. Simon's previous partner tossed Teddy an annoyed look, but he was soon gone, swallowed by the crowd, and Teddy put his arms around Simon, holding him up.
"Hey--we're going," he shouted in Simon's ear, over the thump of the music. "Come on--I'll take you home."
Simon shook his head, pouting. "I'm having too much fun," he shouted back.
"No way. Not leaving you here, not when you're this drunk, not tonight. Let's go." Teddy hauled a protesting Simon off the dance floor, and he and Andrew helped him out of the club.
In the chilly air of the street, Simon sobered up a little, to Teddy's relief. "What time is it?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. Between one and two, probably?"
Andrew said, "Twenty past one."
"Damn. That went by fast." Simon gave a gusty, beer-scented sigh. "I suppose I'd better go home."
"We'll walk you there," said Teddy. He knew that Simon lived close by, and was in no fit state to Apparate. It was only five minutes before they were at Simon's flat, shivering.
"Next week again, maybe?" asked Simon hopefully. "I really had a good time."
"Not next weekend; it's Christmas. But soon, yeah, we should." Teddy grinned. "It was pretty fun. You could go on your own, too, you know. There were lots of blokes who seemed quite keen to know you better."
Simon went pink. "I'd be nervous by myself. I'd rather go with you and Andrew."
"We'll work something out," Teddy promised. "Get some sleep. And drink some hangover potion first!"
"Yeah. G'night, Ted. It was good to meet you, Andrew." Simon flashed a knowing grin and went inside.
"You okay to Apparate?" Teddy asked Andrew. He knew he was still a little drunk himself, but going home should be all right, and Andrew had had less than Teddy had.
"I think so. Your flat?" Andrew had his hands tucked up under his armpits, trying to keep them warm.
Teddy nodded, and they Apparated straight there. It was wonderfully cosy after the cold outside, but Teddy caught Andrew by the elbow and hugged him close anyway.
"I'm really glad you decided to go tonight," he said into Andrew's shoulder. "I liked dancing with you--a lot."
Andrew wrapped his arms around Teddy's waist and pressed his face to Teddy's neck. "Me, too," he said. "Sorry if I was a bit of a grumpy bastard part of the time--I really did have a good night."
"Good," said Teddy, and they just stood there embracing for a long moment.
"So, um, Simon's just a friend of yours?" Andrew asked, disentangling himself from Teddy.
"Yeah--why, are you interested?" Teddy smirked.
"In Simon? No. Well--I mean, he's definitely fit--I might be if I wasn't already interested in someone else."
"Oh, yeah?" said Teddy, feigning casualness, his hands in his pockets. "Who d'you fancy, then?"
"Shut up," replied Andrew, shoving Teddy a little, smiling and looking at his shoes.
Teddy laughed. "Well, if you're not going to tell me, then I think you'd better give me my shirt back--I don't lend clothes to people who keep secrets from me."
Andrew raised his eyebrows. "That's a terrible come-on," he said, and when Teddy didn't reply, he rounded his mouth in an O. "That--it was a come-on, wasn't it? I mean--"
"Yeah," replied Teddy, tugging at the hem of the shirt he'd lent to Andrew, "it definitely was. Now give me my shirt back, and don't get any more of your smelly Quidditch sweat on it."
"It's not Quidditch sweat," laughed Andrew, pulling the shirt over his head. "It's club sweat. This is an entirely new sort of sweat for me. Enjoy it while it lasts." He threw the shirt in Teddy's face, still laughing.
"I know of another kind of sweat I like," said Teddy, dropping the shirt on the floor and moving closer, putting his arms about Andrew's waist. He hesitated, then kissed Andrew gently on the lips.
After a fraction of a second's pause, Andrew kissed him back.
"It's okay?" whispered Teddy against Andrew's mouth.
"Yeah," Andrew whispered back, "I would say it is definitely okay." His hands slid up underneath Teddy's shirt. "Except that it's not fair for you to be wearing more than I am," he said between kisses along Teddy's jaw.
"It's not that warm in here," Teddy pointed out. Andrew's hands were still chilly from being outside. "If I take my shirt off too, won't we both be cold?"
"Do you really care?"
"No," Teddy admitted. He let Andrew pull his shirt off, then guided them toward the sofa. "But maybe we'd better stick at that for tonight, huh?"
Andrew shoved his fringe back from his face and sighed. "I suppose that's probably best."
"I'd rather wait and have it be what we both want." Teddy sat down, pulling Andrew down next to him. "Wouldn't you?"
"I--" Andrew swallowed. "Yeah. Since we kind of cocked things up before." He put his hand up to Teddy's face, stroking his thumb along Teddy's cheek. "You're what I want, you know that."
Teddy's heart gave a queer thump. He parted his lips as Andrew touched them, kissing Andrew's fingers. "I want you, too. But not tonight."
He was very conscious of both his own arousal and Andrew's. It would be easy to do what they'd done before, sucking each other off or maybe even rimming, but he wanted more, wanted to have whatever they did be special, to mean more than just that they each thought the other was pretty hot. This time he didn't want to find out too late about something that would mess things up between them.
"Trousers stay on, then," Andrew agreed. He shifted, turning sideways and leaning against the arm of the sofa so that Teddy could half-recline on top of him, their bodies fitting together again as they had when they danced. Their lips met, tongues exploring softly the geography of each other's mouths. Teddy put one hand between their chests to stroke Andrew's flat nipples, and Andrew caught his breath and pushed his hips up against Teddy, holding onto Teddy's arse.
"Oh, yeah," he breathed. "You can do that as much as you like."
"I could do it all night," Teddy breathed. He felt a chuckle rumble through Andrew's chest below him.
"What? I could!"
"Earlier you said you could dance with me all night. Which is it?"
Teddy smiled and kissed Andrew again. "Both. Either. Whichever we happen to be doing at the time. I don't know." Teddy laughed. "Shut up and just kiss me again, will you?"
Andrew pressed his lips to Teddy's, opening his mouth so they could both explore with their tongues. Teddy stroked over Andrew's nipples again, turning them to resilient little pebbles on his chest.
"Fuck," gasped Andrew. He kneaded Teddy's arse, and Teddy wasn't sure whether he wanted to push back against Andrew's hands or forward against Andrew's insistent erection. He settled for doing both, realising belatedly that it must feel to Andrew like Teddy was trying to fuck him. He stopped, not without a great deal of reluctance.
Andrew's eyes flew open. "Why'd you stop? That was brilliant."
"I don't--didn't want to do too much, you know?" He bent to press kisses to the side of Andrew's neck. "I don't want things to get out of control."
"If you keep doing that," moaned Andrew, arching his neck back so Teddy could kiss him more easily, "things are going to get out of control really bloody quickly."
"Bugger," said Teddy, and he licked the skin he'd just been kissing.
"Maybe--I mean, we could still keep our trousers on, like we said we would, but sometimes--" Andrew blushed.
"Sometimes what?" Teddy was eager for any suggestion.
"Sometimes, I don't know, have you ever just rubbed against something--well, in our case, someone? I'll bet it'd be brilliant. Trousers on. And then we can just--we can sleep, or I can go, or whatever, but right now, Ted, I'm honestly not sure I could even stand up, I'm so fucking hard for you."
Hearing Andrew say that made Teddy's cock feel like it was going to drill right through his pants and trousers, both. "Me too. For you," he said, as if Andrew couldn't feel it for himself. The idea was irresistible. He bit at Andrew's neck and moved his hips some more.
"Oh, fuck yeah, that's good," Andrew said with a groan, rubbing right back and moving his hands over Teddy's arse. "Just like that, god, Ted," and his fingers dug into Teddy's flesh.
"Andrew, Andrew, Andrew!" Teddy panted the name repeatedly as he drew nearer to orgasm. He wriggled a little, trying to make it so that the zip didn't press against oversensitized flesh. Andrew let go with one hand and reached in between them--Teddy guessed he was having the same problem--and then the rough metal had slipped sideways and the friction against his prick was perfect, perfect, and he was spurting into his pants, sticky and messy and all he could do was hang on as Andrew grunted and thrust and squeezed his eyes shut as he came too.
Teddy didn't want to move. He wanted to fall asleep right there, with his semen gluing his pants and trousers to his skin, and the sweat drying on his back, and Andrew's arms around him.
"That was quick," Andrew said, a hint of laughter in his voice.
"You said it would be, if we kept doing what we were doing. But why wait?" Teddy tasted Andrew's neck, nibbling his way up to Andrew's face.
"Because now I should go?"
"No. Stay," said Teddy, not sure if this was the right thing to do, but sure that it was what he wanted. "I'll lend you some pyjamas. But I'd like to sleep with you tonight... just sleep. And tomorrow we can talk about whatever. Okay?"