HP fic: Better the Instruction (16/22) [Remus/Sam, Teddy/Andrew, adult]
Title: Better the Instruction (16/22) Authors: celandineb and emiime Fandom: HP Chapter pairings: Remus/Sam, Teddy/Andrew. Chapter rating: adult Chapter length: ~10,100 words Warnings: Anal sex. Summary: Remus and Sam, Teddy and Andrew spend Christmas Eve together at Remus's house, and play charades. Note: AU (Remus survived the war). See here for complete story header with all pairings/warnings. Also posted here.
Remus set down his half-eaten sandwich and pulled the parchment a little closer. He was snatching lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and trying to make out his shopping list at the same time, with the result that he was getting greasy cheese smears on the parchment and failing to remember half the things he knew he'd thought of earlier in the day.
Tree, yes, that practically went without saying. He'd never forget to buy the Christmas tree. The strings of fairy lights all still worked, he'd checked them last night, and there were more baubles and balls in the ornament box than could fit on two trees. Tinsel, though. And holly for the mantel.
He'd done nearly all of his gift shopping already, not that he had that many people to give to, but by the twenty-third of December he had better start wrapping packages, not still be buying. Teddy, of course, and Sam. Remus smiled. He had smaller gifts for Andromeda, various Potters and Weasleys, and a few other friends.
One more to find, though. Teddy had sent a note to say that he had invited Andrew over for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day--Remus assumed that meant the night between as well--and so Remus supposed that there had better be something for him. Perhaps a book on Quidditch would be suitable, if obvious; there were several recently published ones that Remus doubted Andrew would own. He'd look on the shelves of Flourish and Blotts this afternoon.
Remus sat back in his chair, tapping his quill against his chin. He'd known for a few days now that Andrew would be spending the night on Christmas Eve, but he hadn't actually given the matter much thought.
Obviously he and Teddy had made up after their fight. And if Remus knew his stubborn son, that must have meant that Andrew had come around, at least somewhat.
Remus did wonder, however, why the boy wouldn't be spending Christmas with his own family. Teddy hadn't alluded to that in the letter, and Remus didn't want to pry, as curious as he was. He couldn't remember if Andrew had mentioned his family at all when they'd all met for the concert--perhaps he had none, poor boy.
He nodded and underlined Andrew's name on his parchment. He'd get the boy an extra present, since he likely wouldn't be getting anything from his own family if he wasn't spending Christmas with them. He didn't know what--the book on Quidditch had exhausted his store of knowledge about Andrew. Maybe Sam would have an idea--he was so much better at buying presents for young people than Remus ever had been.
He could owl Teddy, perhaps--but no. Best to just leave him be; he was doubtless busy with his own preparations for the holidays, and working overtime at the apothecary, no doubt.
Remus finished the last bites of his lunch, pushed his plate aside, and read over his list. God--he'd forgotten the dinner altogether. He scribbled a list of some ingredients he knew he'd need to pick up, wiped his mouth on his napkin, nodded, and plunked down a few coins to pay his bill, heading back to work.
Flourish and Blotts was busy--no, busy was an understatement. It was mobbed, and the holiday help--which, to give the manager his due, was brought in every year--was as clueless as all the previous batches. The moment Remus walked in the door, he was flagged down by Susan, a lovely blonde girl who could barely alphabetise.
"Let me get my cloak off first," he called, hanging it on a hook behind the counter. He shoved the list he'd been working on into his pocket and rushed over to help Susan assist a customer. When he'd finished locating the book the customer wanted--not a difficult task, as there was a large display of that very book on a table not three feet from where Susan was dithering--he turned away with a sigh and closed his eyes for a moment. Crowds tended to exhaust Remus, but there was nothing he could do in this particular crowd but carry on until the day was through.
He did manage to snatch a copy of Finbar Quigley's autobiography--since he was retired, the fact that he'd captained the Ballycastle Bats and not Portree oughtn't to be a problem--and put it behind the counter to take home with him.
By the time they shut the doors that evening, Remus was more than ready to leave. He'd have to open in the morning, but could leave at noon as the manager was closing. Hopefully he'd have time to race 'round and find a second gift for Andrew, and if not, at least he had something. But now he needed to hurry and buy the tree to take home tonight. It could sit in a bucket of water until tomorrow.
The tree he chose was a large one, nearly eight feet, and a lovely deep green. After some thought, he bought two bundles of holly and some mistletoe as well. Remus waited while the Diminishment Charm was applied, wondering absently how Muggles managed. He tucked the tree and other plants into his pocket and went to buy the food. Tonight he might be tired and the shops busy, but tomorrow would be even worse. Moreover if he found he had forgotten something, he could send out Teddy tomorrow afternoon.
Laden with carrier bags, Remus Apparated home and wearily began putting away the groceries: potatoes and onions in the bin, roast and other perishables in the refrigerator, flour and sugar in the cupboards. He had eaten the last of a curry the night before and found himself reduced to heating a tin of soup for his own dinner. Well, the next few days would make up for that. He sorted through the post as he spooned up soggy vegetables. Half a dozen holiday cards, several advertisements for things he had no interest in, a couple of bills.
Sam found him nodding over his empty bowl at half past nine.
"You're trying to do too much," he scolded Remus gently. "Come on, bed. You have to work tomorrow, don't you?"
Remus sighed. "Yes, but only half a day. I just wanted to run all my errands today so that after I finish tomorrow, I could relax."
"Humph. You could have asked me to do some of them," said Sam. "Yes, I have lessons to give and meetings to attend, but my time is still a good deal more flexible than yours is--and I can't think of a better way to spend it than by doing things for you, if you need me."
"I know." Remus's voice was sharper than he intended, and he modulated it, repeating, "I know, Sam, and I appreciate that, truly; I'm just not quite used to having someone I can depend on."
"Understandably." Sam put Remus's dishes in the sink and made him stand up, putting his arms around him. "So, you work in the morning; why not let me do a few things for you then? What do you still have to do?"
Remus ticked off on his fingers. "I need to put up the holly and the mistletoe and get the tree set up and get the lights on it so we can decorate it tomorrow when Teddy and Andrew are here--did I tell you Andrew's coming?"
"Is he? Didn't you tell me he and Teddy had a big falling-out?"
Remus nodded and leaned against the counter, yawning. "Yes--because Andrew was afraid to come out. I don't know the details of their making up, but apparently they have and are now spending time together again. As to why Andrew's coming here for Christmas, I haven't a clue. I don't know if he has a family at all."
"Oh, that's unfortunate," said Sam. "Did you find a present for him?" He took Remus's hand and tugged him, protesting, towards the stairs.
"I've got to finish--" said Remus, but Sam kept tugging.
"I'll do it all while you're at work tomorrow," Sam replied with a kiss to Remus's knuckles, and Remus acquiesced.
"So did you get something for Andrew?" Sam asked again as they mounted the stairs.
"Yes--a book on Quidditch--but I thought I might look for something else for him as well. I don't suppose you have any ideas? You're better at this sort of thing than I am. My solution is always a book."
Sam grinned as they entered the bedroom and began undressing for bed. "I love that about you," he said. "It's charming."
"Charming, perhaps," said Remus, "but hardly useful when it comes to a teenaged boy who happens to be a professional Quidditch player and my son's boyfriend--wow."
"Wow, indeed--is it odd to think of him as such?"
Remus finished putting on his pyjamas and climbed into bed, putting his arms around Sam. "No," he said, "I'm just glad Teddy's happy--he seems to be, anyway."
Sam kissed his forehead. "Well, since the boy makes both Teddy and you happy, I'll see if I can't find another gift for him tomorrow."
"Thank you." Remus relaxed against the warmth of Sam's body. "Sam?"
"It does seem like you're the one always coming over here, and doing so much for me. I feel, I don't know, that you make all the effort and I don't do enough in return."
"I like staying here." Sam's embrace tightened slightly. "Not that I don't like my own flat--I do--but your house feels more like a home. Maybe because Teddy lived here; my place has only ever had me in it, on a permanent basis at least. But can we talk about this another time?"
Remus nodded sleepily. "I just wanted to ask."
"Yes. Sh. Sleep."
Sam was snoring lightly when Remus woke up two minutes before his alarm, and quickly turned it off. He showered and dressed and made his breakfast, including a full pot of tea, and then went back upstairs to kiss Sam goodbye.
"Present for Andrew, tree and lights, holly and mistletoe," Sam ticked off on his fingers, nearly upsetting the cup of tea that Remus had brought him. "Anything else?"
"I don't think so. We always have a very simple dinner on Christmas Eve, either bangers and mash or we go fetch in fish and chips, since the afternoon is spent decorating and wrapping last gifts and so on," Remus explained. "I'm not sure when Teddy will arrive, but I'll be home shortly after noon and I can't imagine he'd get here any sooner. Whether Andrew will come with him or later in the day, I don't know."
"Don't worry about it," Sam assured him. "I'll go present-hunting first thing and then I'll come back here. The tree will be up and ready."
"Thanks." Remus made a wry face. "Wish me luck in surviving the last-minute shopping crush."
Luck duly wished, with an extra kiss for good measure, Remus faced the busy morning with relative equanimity.
The day could have been much worse--Remus only had to extricate Susan from a handful of dilemmas, and he finally hinted that perhaps she'd do better to man the gift-wrapping station instead of helping the customers. He saw more than a few familiar faces out doing last minute shopping, Harry among them, and assured him that he'd be at the Boxing Day party, plus one.
"And Teddy, too?" asked Harry, stowing his parcel under his arm.
Remus nodded. "I believe he'll be there--he may also be bringing a guest."
Harry grinned. "Is he back with Victoire? Only I hadn't heard. She doesn't count as a guest, though--she's family, and she's invited anyhow."
"No--not Victoire. Someone else, someone he met recently." It wasn't his place to tell Harry--or anyone else for that matter--about Teddy's personal life. They'd all find out at the party, if Teddy did indeed bring Andrew along.
"Well, I'll certainly be keen to meet the lucky girl," Harry said, winking. He checked his watch and frowned. "Damn--I'm going to be late, and I've still got a few more things to pick up. Molly'll have my neck if I'm not at the Burrow when I said I'd be. See you in a couple of days!" And Harry disappeared into the Christmas Eve shopping throng.
Remus raised a hand in farewell, though he knew Harry wouldn't see it, and made a mental note to pull Teddy aside sometime in the next couple of days and tell him about the conversation he'd just had. It would be only fair.
At half-past noon, a full thirty minutes later than he'd intended, Remus walked in the front door of his home to find that Sam had indeed done all that he'd promised he'd do that morning. The tree was up and glimmering with fairy lights, the mantel was decorated with holly, and mistletoe hung in the doorway to the living room. The whole house smelled of mulling spices, and Sam sat in Remus's favourite armchair, holding a mug of cider, clearly pleased with himself.
"You," Remus declared, "are amazing."
Sam shrugged. "Oh, I know it," he said, and he got up, crossing the room to plant a cidery kiss on Remus's mouth. "Happy Christmas," he said. "I'm so glad we're spending it together."
"Me, too." Remus kissed him back. The kiss became more complicated, until Sam pulled away, laughing.
"If we're going to do that maybe we should go upstairs, lest Teddy walk in on us again?"
"Mm." Remus rubbed his nose against Sam's neck. "I think I can wait for tonight. There's still lots to do around here first, anyhow. Have you eaten any lunch?"
"I was waiting for you. There's cider, and I picked up some good bread and cheese and olives and things."
"Sounds marvellous," said Remus gratefully.
Despite Remus's avowed intention of waiting for night, he and Sam were feeding each other olives at the kitchen table when the front door banged and Teddy's voice rang cheerfully down the hall, "Hey, Dad, where are you?"
"In the kitchen," Remus called back, and hastily buttoned his cardigan and was taking a sip of cider when Teddy came in, followed by Andrew.
"Cider, boys?" Sam asked them. He'd been no less disarranged than Remus, but somehow managed to look completely calm and pulled-together as he stood by the cider kettle, holding a ladle.
"Sure," Teddy replied, and Andrew nodded also.
"Andrew, I'm so glad you were able to come spend today and tomorrow with us," Remus said. "It will be fun to have a houseful."
"Thank you, Mr Lupin. Remus," Andrew corrected himself before Remus could remind him. "It was great of Ted to invite me."
Remus saw Andrew squeeze Teddy's hand, and his son's hair turned a brighter magenta.
"The least I could do. Cheers," he said as Sam handed each of them mugs. "Happy Christmas Eve, everyone."
They all lifted their mugs and drank, and then Sam put his on the counter, saying, "I understand that the next order of business is to trim the tree? If you two have eaten?"
"Yeah, we stopped at my place and grabbed something," Teddy said.
"Oh, Teddy, you didn't attempt to cook for poor Andrew, did you?" Remus joked.
"Actually," Andrew interrupted, before Teddy could reply, "Teddy's not that bad of a cook. I've been teaching him how--I learned from, um--I learned when I was a kid." His cheeks turned pink, and Teddy stepped forward.
"We just had some leftover takeaway for lunch, though," he clarified. "Um--shall we all go and trim the tree now?"
The four men made their way into the living room where the tree was set up, Teddy and Andrew leading the way. Remus tried hard--but failed--to suppress a grin when Teddy noticed the mistletoe in the doorway and hastily stepped back, letting Andrew pass through ahead of him. The two of them clearly hadn't worked their way up to kissing in front of Remus yet--and, if Remus were honest with himself, that was perfectly all right.
Andrew and Teddy were clearly enamoured of each other though, Remus thought, finding excuses to be near each other, brushing against each other constantly. Teddy seemed to regress into his childhood somewhat when he found his favourite ornaments, displaying them for Andrew with obvious glee, then nudging them into Andrew's hands so he could hang them on the tree.
After a little while of this, Remus retired to the sofa, pulling Sam down with him. The two of them sat quite close together, Remus's hand nestled in Sam's larger one, watching the two boys.
It's like having a proper family, Remus thought. He squeezed Sam's hand as Christmas music from the wireless filled the air and Teddy and Andrew laughed together over some private joke. Probably not many people's idea of a family... but it works for me.
He looked over at Sam, then, who was grinning broadly, watching the boys.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Oh--" Sam laughed as if he'd been caught thinking about something embarrassing. "Nothing, really," he said, keeping his voice low, "I was just thinking how this is a little like having a proper family, you know?"
"I do know," replied Remus, and a wave of something wonderful washed over him. "I was thinking exactly the same thing."
Sam kissed him on the cheek. "Great minds," he murmured in Remus's ear, then kissed him on the neck as well, making Remus shiver.
He saw that Teddy was looking in their direction, and thought about suggesting that they be more discreet--then thought better of it. It was just a simple kiss, really, and if Tonks had lived and they'd done just that, there would be nothing to bat an eye over. He and Sam were increasingly serious, so why pretend otherwise?
Teddy had paused, and Andrew said, "Pass me another?"
"Oh, sorry," said Teddy hastily, and rummaged for the next ornament. "My grandmum gave me this one when I was about ten, long before I realised I'd never be a great Quidditch player." He handed Andrew a tiny broom, complete with a figure in purple Quidditch robes. Teddy had always insisted that it was a Chaser, although Remus thought it was a Seeker; the ball had been lost the first Christmas, so there was no way to tell.
Andrew broke into an enormous grin when he took it. "You realise this is a Portree player?"
"I never thought about that!" Teddy said, laughing. "I guess it is, in purple. Maybe that says you were meant to be here?"
Remus couldn't hear Andrew's response, but it made Teddy give a muffled snort and glance over at his father and Sam.
"Maybe more cider?" Remus suggested. They weren't going anywhere, except perhaps to go fetch fish and chips in a couple of hours, and becoming a little intoxicated in midafternoon on Christmas Eve with loved ones around seemed perfectly fine to Remus.
"Sounds good," Sam agreed.
Remus stood and collected everyone's mugs, bringing them back filled with steaming fragrant cider. "There's enough for at least one more round, but I turned the heat off so the spices wouldn't get too bitter," he told Sam.
The tree was quite thoroughly decorated by now, with Teddy and Andrew's hard work. "Just one thing left," Teddy told Andrew. "We put a star on top, the very last thing."
It was a plain silver star, a little rubbed-looking now; Remus had had it for nearly forty years. The dog star, he called it to himself, for it had been Sirius who had chosen it, the first Christmas the two of them had celebrated together. Tonks had added three small gold stars to its centre, the one Christmas they had had: one each for herself and Remus, and one for the baby she was already expecting. A lump formed in Remus's throat and he leaned his head on Sam's shoulder as he watched Andrew levitate Teddy so that his son could place the star.
He swallowed hard as Teddy touched the ground again, turning around to display the ornament-laden tree.
"What do you think, Dad?"
"It's glorious," Remus replied. "You boys did a perfect job."
Teddy and Andrew smiled tiny smiles at each other, then Teddy leaned over, hesitated for the barest second, and brushed what could scarcely be called a kiss over Andrew's cheek.
Andrew stepped back, his eyes wide, and Remus hastily turned his head to look anywhere else--he didn't want Andrew to think Teddy's father had been staring--but when he looked back, the two of them were holding hands and looking up at the star on top of the tree.
"See, there's one for me, and my dad, and my mum," said Teddy, "Only now I suppose it's one for me, and you, and Sam, and my dad can be the big silver one. Or something." He laughed, and so did Andrew.
Remus cringed only a little--Sirius was the big silver star. He could never live up to something like that, himself.
"Hey--you've never seen my room, have you?" Teddy said then, and Andrew shook his head.
"No--the only time I've ever been here, we were all heading right back out for the concert, and I only saw the kitchen and hallway."
Teddy looked at Remus, then back at Andrew. "D'you want to see it? We have to take our things up there, anyway." He glanced at Remus again. "It's okay?"
Remus nodded. "Of course," he said, then hesitated. He really wanted to say something like Leave the door open or Don't be too long or Please do try not to have sex while you're up there, but he knew full well that would only embarrass them all, and besides, Teddy had more respect for him and for Christmas than that--he hoped.
Teddy and Andrew thundered up the stairs, after stopping in the kitchen long enough to grab the small bag they'd packed to stay overnight. When their footsteps had reached the vicinity of Teddy's room, Remus waited, but he didn't hear the door close, and he nodded with relief.
"Well done," said Sam.
"You didn't put on the Worried Remus face when they went upstairs." Sam was laughing at him, but in a sympathetic way. "I could tell what you were thinking though, and I bet Ted could too."
"I know, I know." Remus laughed a little too. "Killjoy old dad, that's me."
"Hardly; you're letting Andrew stay overnight, after all." Sam brushed his fingertips over Remus's bare neck. "Pretty permissive, in my book."
"You're staying, too," Remus pointed out. "It would be hypocritical of me if I said Teddy couldn't have his boyfriend," it was still odd to use the word, "spend the night, under those circumstances."
"Lots of parents would, though."
Remus gave a shrug. "I'm not lots of parents."
"And you trust Teddy."
"Mostly," Remus agreed. "He's only eighteen, of course, but yes, mostly." He glanced up at the tree, wanting to change the topic of conversation. "They really did a fine job. Next we'll put presents underneath--oh, blast, I still have several to wrap. A couple of little things for Ted, and the book for Andrew."
"You haven't asked what else I found for Andrew," Sam reminded him. "That needs to be wrapped too."
"What did you get for him?" Remus asked obediently.
"He seemed keen on pop music when we all went to the Screaming Meemies concert, so I picked out albums by several new bands that I thought he might like. If he has them already, he can exchange the discs for something else," said Sam.
"Brilliant," said Remus, rising and offering a hand to Sam. "Why didn't I think of that?"
"I'd not have thought of a book," countered Sam.
"Pfft. A book. We've covered this--books are what I do. No big surprises there. Teddy's probably up in his room right now saying, 'I'll bet my dad got you a book for Christmas'."
Sam laughed as they headed into Remus's office. "Somehow I doubt that's what Teddy's doing right now."
Remus rolled his eyes as he pulled out the yet-unwrapped presents from their hiding spot. "Don't remind me. Come here and help me wrap these, won't you?"
Sam did, and they wrapped the albums Sam had chosen, too, and placed all the presents under the tree, standing there with their arms around each other for a long moment. The sun was setting and the room had grown darker, lit only by the glow of the fairy lights.
"So what did you get me for Christmas?" Sam asked softly.
"A book," Remus answered automatically. A grin crept over his face as the predictability of his answer dawned on him.
Remus laughed. "Well, yes I did, but a few other things, too. But you'll have to wait until the morning to see what else. I didn't set out to get you a book, you know, but--"
"I know, 'books are what you do'. And I love you for it." Sam kissed him just as there was a loud thump from above.
"Oh, god," said Remus, "I don't even want to know what that was."
"Shall we go and investigate?" asked Sam, leading Remus to the foot of the stairs.
"I suppose," replied Remus, "It's coming up on dinnertime, anyway." They started up the stairs. "Slowly," said Remus, "just in case. Boys?" he added, louder.
There were several more muffled thumps. As they reached the top of the stairs, Remus saw that the door to Teddy's room was closed; he must have done it far more quietly than usual.
"Ted?" he called, tapping on the door.
"Just a minute, Dad," said Teddy, and it really was less than a minute before he opened it and stood there, looking not too noticeably dishevelled. "What's up?"
Remus tried not to be too obvious about looking past him to see the state of the bed, which also looked rumpled though still made. Andrew was sitting on the edge of the mattress.
"Have you finished showing Andrew around up here?" Remus asked. "We were thinking it was about time for dinner, but maybe you need to wrap a few things first? Sam and I have finished with all ours, and they're under the tree."
"Excellent." Teddy's eyes brightened. "Um, yeah, I might have something to wrap. Do you?" he asked Andrew, half-turning.
"No, they're wrapped already, but I should put them out, right?" Andrew replied.
"Please do," Remus told him. "Our family tradition is to have everything decorated and the gifts under the tree before dinner tonight, and then after dinner we each unwrap one thing. The rest wait until Christmas morning." He grinned at Teddy. "We started that when Ted was very young and impatient."
"Da-ad," said Teddy, drawing out the syllable in complaint. "You make me sound terrible."
"You were three," Remus said. "I don't think it reflects on you now. In any case, why don't you wrap up whatever you need to finish. Sam and I will stay in the kitchen, and Andrew, you can help Ted or come in with us if there's something you shouldn't see. Oh--I have sausages, but would you rather have those or shall we go fetch some fish and chips? What does everyone think?"
"Fish," said Sam from behind Remus. "You shouldn't have to cook tonight."
"I like fish and chips," said Andrew.
"Yeah, fish," Teddy put in, and Remus nodded.
"Fish and chips it is, then," he said. "Sam and I will walk down the road and get the food while you wrap your presents, Ted. How does that sound?"
"Andrew, too," said Teddy.
"What about me?" Andrew stood and joined Teddy in the doorway. Remus smiled--they did make a handsome couple, Teddy's smaller frame and Andrew's bulkier one, Teddy's bright hair and Andrew's sandy fringe. They were a study in opposites, really, but Remus liked how well they seemed to fit together. He felt that Teddy was protected--even if Andrew was only about Teddy's age and not much more experienced--and that could only be a good thing.
"You'll go with them," Teddy ordered, his face flushed. "I haven't exactly wrapped your present yet."
"Um," said Andrew, glancing at Remus and Sam, "I--okay, yeah, that'll be fine."
"Don't worry," said Sam, "We don't bite." Remus raised his eyebrows, then decided to let it go. Surely Sam hadn't meant anything by it--he wouldn't make werewolf jokes on Christmas, would he?
"Go," said Teddy, nudging Andrew out the door, grinning. Andrew moved into the hallway, looking at his shoes.
"Okay," he said, "I'll see you, Ted."
"You look as though you're walking to your death," said Teddy, starting to close the door. "I promise, you'll be okay. Really." He looked at Remus, raising his eyebrows in a gesture that clearly meant Please, for the love of god, do not embarrass him. Remus raised his eyebrows back, then smiled his most reassuring smile.
"Let's go, Andrew," he said, putting a hand on the young man's shoulder. "Don't worry--it's only a very short walk to the fish and chips shop."
With coats on, the three of them left the house and headed up the street. It really was only about four minutes' walk, and the pavement was wide enough for them all to walk abreast.
"I know the Quidditch teams stop practising at least a week or two before Christmas," Sam commented, his breath a plume of steam in the frosty air. "Have you been having a good holiday so far?"
Andrew walked a few more yards before answering. "Better since Ted invited me here. Thank you again for having me."
"It's our pleasure," Remus said. "Christmas is a time to spend with people you care about, after all." He realised after he'd said it that he might be making assumptions--but he hadn't said "people you love," which would have been a bigger one.
"Yeah." Andrew stared at the ground.
"Here we are." Remus pointed at the corner ahead, where light shone from the shop window onto the street. He could already smell the frying fish. "Choose whatever you like, Andrew. Ted likes plaice better than cod, and I'm the opposite. And we always get peas and extra chips, but if there's anything else you'd like, just say."
The final order was three large cod and one plaice, a family order of peas, and two extra chips. Sam insisted on paying, and Andrew on carrying the bags back.
"There's a chocolate gateau in the fridge, too," Remus mentioned. "I'm afraid it's several days old though."
"Don't apologise," said Sam, "not as busy as you've been."
He had been holding Remus's hand both there and back, and Andrew kept glancing at the two of them and then looking away again. Remus tried to think of something innocuous to say.
"How long have you been playing for Portree, Andrew?"
"Nearly three years," Andrew replied. "I worked in a shop for a year after I left Hogwarts before I made the reserve team."
That surprised Remus; he'd thought Andrew was about Teddy's age, not four years older.
"I suppose you're hoping to get off the reserves?" Sam asked.
Andrew nodded. "Yeah, but I'm not sure that'll be happening anytime soon--the team's been fantastic for several years now, so really my only hope is if someone gets hopelessly injured, which--I can't wish for that, you know?"
Remus chuckled. "Certainly not." They walked along in silence a moment longer, then Andrew spoke.
"I suppose you're wondering why I'm here instead of with my own family on Christmas." He sounded miserable, and Remus hesitated for a long moment, looking at Sam, before he answered.
"I--well, I won't lie to you, Andrew, I did wonder, but I'm certain you have a very good reason. And it's not one you have to share if you don't want to. We're happy to have you--and I do mean that--whatever the reason. All right?"
Andrew screwed up his face. "All right," he mumbled.
Remus wasn't sure if he'd done the right thing--had Andrew perhaps wanted him to ask?
"But, Andrew," he said as the three of them approached the house, "if you want to talk about anything at all, you know where to find me."
Andrew nodded. "Right. Thanks," he said, and he followed Remus and Sam inside.
Teddy was waiting for them, and he dragged Andrew off as soon as Andrew had set down the food and taken off his coat.
"Probably checking him over to make sure we didn't harass him too much," said Remus as he got out plates and silverware. Sam laughed and took four bottles of beer from the refrigerator, setting one at each place.
"Did you know he was that much older than Teddy?" Sam asked. "And what do you think the business is with his family?" He kept his voice low, for which Remus was grateful, as Teddy and Andrew were only in the living room.
"I didn't," said Remus, "but I'm not sure the age really matters with them--and now, I must admit, my curiosity is definitely piqued when it comes to Andrew's family. I didn't know if he wanted me to ask him what the situation was, just now, or really what it was he wanted." Remus sighed. "Maybe he'll feel comfortable enough to say something about it later, but I didn't want to push."
"Probably wise," agreed Sam.
"Want to go bring them in before the fish gets cold?" Remus asked.
"Sure." Sam left and Remus heard him going along the hallway, calling the boys' names.
Remus put out salt and pepper and a bottle of malt vinegar and sat down just as the rest came into the kitchen.
"Finish all your wrapping?" Remus smiled at Teddy. "Your plaice is the one in the left-hand bag; all the cod is in the other."
"Yeah," said Teddy, reaching for his fish and unwrapping the paper, crumpling it as the fish landed on his plate. "All done and everything's under the tree." He flashed a look sideways at Andrew, one that Remus couldn't interpret.
"We can have a relaxing evening, then," said Sam. "At some point we each open one gift, you said, Remus?"
"A bit later on," said Remus.
"We usually play a game of some sort first," Teddy said. "Exploding Snap or Gobstones or something. But Andrew had an idea for something different, since there's four of us."
"What game were you thinking of, Andrew?" Remus looked at Andrew, who had been eating steadily.
"Um." Andrew put down his fork and bit his lip. "My family used to play charades, not on Christmas Eve necessarily, just in general."
"That sounds like fun," Sam said. "In teams, you and Ted against Remus and me?"
"Or maybe we should go cross-generational, and have you and Ted against Andrew and me," Remus suggested.
Somewhat to his amazement, Teddy supported that idea. "I'd like to team with Sam."
Remus nodded, trying not to let his surprise show on his face. "All right," he said, holding out a hand to Andrew, "you and me, then." He grinned. Andrew hesitated, then grinned back, taking his hand and giving it a firm shake.
"You do realise, Andrew, that my dad is absolute crap at charades?" came Teddy's voice, and Remus shook his head, laughing.
"That's hardly dinner table language," he said, "and besides, when have you ever seen me play charades?" He let go of Andrew's hand and gave Teddy a look of mock-outrage.
Teddy shrugged, shoving a handful of chips in his mouth, a merry smile playing about his eyes. "I've seen you try to act," he said when he'd chewed and swallowed the chips. "Like when you're feeling something, but trying to hide it? Acting like you're feeling another way? Rubbish actor," he said.
If Teddy hadn't been smiling so guilelessly, Remus might have thought there was a hidden meaning to his words, but he was certain that there wasn't--Teddy was just being Teddy, taking an opportunity to tease. That was fine with Remus.
Sam began laughing. "You know," he said, "Ted's right, Remus. You're definitely a crap actor."
Remus harrumphed and swiped at Sam. "I'll have you all know," he said, looking directly at Andrew, "That I am perfectly capable of holding my own when it comes to a game of charades. Don't you worry, Andrew. You've got the best possible partner." He winked at Andrew, who was looking somewhat discomfited by the whole exchange.
"Yeah? All right," he said, and he went back to eating, his eyes flicking back and forth between Teddy and Remus as they continued their banter.
When they had all finished and cleared away the dinner things, Remus tore two sheets of parchment into strips and passed around quills. "Is this the way your family played?" Remus asked Andrew. He'd nearly said plays, but had stopped himself in time. "Each team writing down things for the other team to act out?"
Andrew nodded. "Yes, and then we take--took turns drawing slips until we ran out. It's--I always liked it, anyway."
"It'll be brilliant," Remus reassured him, glancing at Teddy, who was already scribbling on his slips of parchment. Sam was looking thoughtful, tapping the end of his quill against his chin. Remus pondered briefly, then wrote on one slip, The Boy Who Lived. Glancing around the room for inspiration, he put on a second, The Holly and the Ivy. History of Magic went on a third, and finally Time in a Bottle. Four should be more than enough; he doubted they'd get through sixteen charades in an evening.
"Everyone have theirs?" Teddy asked. He'd gone and brought back two bowls, one for each team to draw from. "Who wants to go first?"
"You can," said Andrew, folding up his slips and dropping them in the bowl with Remus's.
"I think you should draw first, Ted. Go on," said Sam.
Teddy reached into the bowl and pulled out a slip, unfolding it and reading it. He grinned. "All right. Okay, Sam. Ready?"
Sam settled back in his seat to watch Teddy. "Ready when you are."
Teddy held up three fingers, then one finger.
"Three words. First word," said Sam.
Next Teddy put three fingers on his arm, followed by one finger again.
"Three syllables. First syllable," said Sam, and Teddy nodded.
He cocked his head in thought for a minute, then left the room and came back with Remus's scarf. He gave it to Andrew, shook his head, and took it away again, then gave it to Remus and smiled.
"Scarf?" Sam guessed.
Shaking his head, Teddy repeated the action, pointing at Andrew and shaking his head again, and nodding and smiling broadly when he gave the scarf to Remus.
"Hm. Can you give me the next part of the word?" requested Sam.
Teddy put three fingers on his arm, then two, then three.
"Okay, second and third syllables together. Go ahead."
Teddy opened his hands as if he were reading a book.
"Book. Uh, scarf-book," Sam guessed, shaking his head slowly all the time. "Warm woolen winter scarf, and a book, um, Remus buys everyone books for every holiday and birthday--" Remus laughed and gave Sam a pointed look, but Sam took no heed, continuing. "Um, okay, book, textbook, storybook--"
Teddy nodded frantically, pointing at Sam.
"Story?" Sam repeated. Teddy nodded again, then tossed the scarf at Remus, pointing at Remus again.
"It's his scarf--" Teddy had pointed to Sam when he'd said his. Sam furrowed his brow. "His--oh, His-story, yeah?"
Teddy beamed and touched his finger to his nose, and Sam grinned. "All right, 'history'. And?"
Teddy held up two fingers, then held his finger and thumb about an inch apart.
"Second word. Little word. And, is, of--of, all right," said Sam as Teddy indicated that he was correct. "'History of'. History of what?" Teddy pointed at Sam, and Remus grinned.
"History of me?" asked Sam. Teddy frowned and shook his head, then made as if to pull his wand from his pocket, but stopped as if he had a better idea. He turned slightly to one side, flung an invisible jacket over his shoulder, and put on a distant, haughty expression, running one hand lightly over his chest.
It took Sam a moment to catch on, but when he did, he roared with laughter. "Oh, my god, Remus, I forgot that you lent this boy History of Magic! Well done, Ted!"
Teddy laughed. "I could have done this, but I was afraid you'd think it was cheating." He morphed into a semblance of the young Sam from the album cover, with shaggy black hair and prominent cheekbones, a faint dusting of stubble across his jaw, his eyes dark and distant.
Remus and Sam applauded. "Oh, well done," said Sam, "if a bit scary. Reminds me how far I've grown away from being cool."
"I think you're pretty cool, still," said Teddy, shrugging and letting the vision of Sam fall away.
Andrew, for his part, was sitting in his chair looking bewildered. "Um, what did I miss here?" he finally asked.
"History of Magic was the title of the first album by the Hobgoblins," Teddy explained, "and Sam was their lead singer."
"Really?" Andrew's eyes grew big. "My mu-, that is, I used to hear that album all the time when I was a kid. I should have recognised you! Especially since you knew so much about music when we all went to that concert!"
"No worries." Sam laughed. "I've spent the last twenty years or so trying not to be recognised. I haven't performed in public since the Hobgoblins broke up, and yet there are still witches who chase me down in the shops."
"But I caught you," said Remus smugly, planting a kiss on Sam's cheek.
"You did indeed." Sam turned his head to brush his lips over Remus's. Teddy coughed.
"All right, all right," said Remus. "Sorry, Ted. And Andrew. Didn't mean to embarrass you."
"It's just... oh, never mind," Teddy said. "Who's next, you or Andrew?"
"I'll go next," Andrew offered. He felt around in the bowl and pulled out a slip, then stood for a moment, chewing his lip uncertainly. "Okay." He stood with his hands on his hips.
"A person," Remus said, and Andrew nodded, quickly indicating that there were two words in the name, and the first word had two syllables. "Go on."
Andrew took his wand and whisked a few strands of tinsel from the tree, settling them on his head in a kind of coronet. He tilted his head and gazed coolly at them all.
"King," guessed Remus. Andrew pointed at him, grinning. "King--Kingsley Shacklebolt!"
Teddy groaned. "I should have known that would be too easy."
"Ha. See, I'm not so bad at this as you thought," Remus teased Teddy, as Andrew sat back down, looking pleased.
"You haven't had to act, yet," said Teddy, teasing back. "Okay, Sam, your turn."
Sam groaned when he read his slip of paper, but he finally managed to get Teddy to guess The Knights of the Round Table after much wild gesturing which, it turned out, was meant to be swordfighting.
"That was swordfighting?" Remus teased. "All that whacking about?" He mimicked Sam's gestures, laughing. "All right, Sam, if you say so. Swordfighting. Right."
"Let's see you do better," Sam challenged him, and Remus nodded.
"All right," he said, and he drew a slip from the bowl. "Oh, Teddy, really? And don't pretend this wasn't you--I'd recognise that indecipherable penmanship anywhere."
Teddy put on an innocent air. "What? Thought you were ace at charades, Dad."
"All right," Remus said, accepting the challenge, "I am--you'll see."
It took him quite some time to act out Pride of Portree--he reduced Teddy and Sam to laughing so hard that they cried--but finally Andrew guessed it, leaping from his chair and shouting the answer.
"Right!" Remus shouted, and he gave Andrew a hug around his shoulders. Andrew half-hugged him back, which Remus thought was definitely a step in the right direction.
"Presents now?" Teddy asked after they'd played a second round.
"Absolutely," said Remus, and the four of them trooped into the living room, settling down around the tree. There were presents heaped all around it--far more than there had been for many Christmasses previous to this one. Remus smiled at yet another sign of his happy little makeshift family.
"So, do we choose which present we want to open, or does someone else do the choosing for us?" asked Sam. Remus started to answer until he noticed that Sam had directed the question at Teddy.
"I usually choose for myself," Teddy replied, "but, I don't know, maybe we could do it differently since there's more of us this year."
"Shall we do a round robin, go around in a circle and each person choose for the next?" Remus suggested.
"That sounds like a good plan," agreed Sam.
Remus thought quickly. "Andrew, why don't you choose for Ted, he can choose for Sam, who'll choose for me, and I'll choose for you." That ought to work out all right; everyone would have the opportunity to pick out a gift that he knew the contents of, if he wanted.
"Okay." Andrew shoved his hair back and knelt down by the tree, looking over the piled-up packages. He touched several of them consideringly before pulling out one done up in silver paper. "Looks like this one's from your dad."
Oh. Remus flushed slightly, recognising it. Sam caught Remus's expression and raised his eyebrows in question, and Remus shook his head.
Teddy took the box and shook it. "Looks kind of like a shirt box, but too square, and it's too noisy." He pulled off the red bow and then tore the paper away. When he lifted the lid and looked inside, he snickered. "A calendar... but wow, Dad, that's quite a calendar for you to give me."
"I thought you might appreciate it," said Remus, still pink.
Teddy pulled it out and showed it to Andrew and Sam. "Quidditch players... without their robes. Just some strategic, um, equipment." It was all wizards, too, and they were quite flirtatious in their dishabille. "Where'd you find it?"
"The bookshop," Remus said. "They usually sell out right away; this year I made sure to grab one."
"Are they real Quidditch players?" Sam asked.
"Yes," said Teddy, flipping through. "Oh my god."
Andrew had turned scarlet when he saw the calendar.
"You're September," Teddy said wonderingly, turning to him.
"Really?" Remus was astonished. He'd bought the calendar as soon as it arrived in the shop, and hadn't actually looked at it very carefully, just shoving it into a box and then wrapping it without looking again. "Andrew, I'm sorry if I've embarrassed you."
"No," Andrew mumbled, his face averted. "I mean, I did the photo shoot, I knew people would see it."
Teddy leaned over to him and said in what was meant to be a whisper, but which Remus heard anyway, "You look really hot, you know."
Remus tried not to let himself wonder too much what Andrew's photo looked like--if he eventually got a chance to see it, well, he'd take it gladly, but he restrained himself from reaching for the calendar. Andrew was terribly good-looking, and Remus would bet he was hiding a well-muscled chest under the woolly jumper he was wearing.
He coughed. "Shall we, um, move on?"
Andrew said nothing, but Teddy nodded his head. "I think--yes. Thank you for the calendar, Dad. I seriously love it."
Remus nodded as Teddy moved to the stack of presents. "Sam, Sam," he said softly. "Oh--here. From me. Um, and it's also from Andrew."
"You don't have to say--" muttered Andrew, but Teddy leaned over and whispered something in Andrew's ear that shut him up and made his cheeks flush pink again. Remus could have sworn he heard the word September.
"From me and Andrew," Teddy repeated.
"Thank you, boys," said Sam, grinning. He held the small box up to his ear and rattled it. "Hmm--not heavy enough to be gold bricks. A nice rattle, though. Well, I suppose there's one way to find out..." He tore at the wrapping, then stared down into the box. "Is this what I think it is?"
Teddy beamed, clearly pleased with himself. "I found it in a junk shop," he said. "Um, maybe more properly an antique store, but it had mostly junk in it, and I didn't think you'd appreciate being called an antique. So." He didn't appear to realise that Sam might also object to being called junk; but in any case, the intention was clear.
Sam pulled a figure from the box about five inches high, set it on his palm, and showed it to Remus. Remus furrowed his brow, then plucked the little figure from Sam's palm.
"Is that--you?" he asked, squinting.
"Yeah," Sam laughed, "Me, several years and more than several pounds ago. I remember they made these figurines for the teenaged witches to set on their bureaus and dream over--I've never actually seen one, though." He turned his attention back to Teddy. "That's a fantastic gift, Ted--you're a thoughtful young man, do you know that?"
Teddy smiled and ducked his head. "Well, I just sort of happened upon it one day. But, um, you're welcome."
Sam stood up and squeezed Teddy's shoulder on his way over to the tree to pick out a gift for Remus to open. "Hm." He squinted at the tags on several packages, then looked at Remus. "I can't decide whether to go with something that I know, or cast caution to the wind and choose one from someone else."
"Goodness, I don't care," said Remus, laughing a little. "The rest will be opened tomorrow, after all."
"Oh, I suppose I'll give you one from me, then." Sam plucked out a large box with holly paper on it and passed it to Remus, then sat down next to him again.
"It's rather light." Remus hefted it.
Sam grinned. "Open it."
Remus did. Inside was a second box, this one in paper printed with gingerbread men. Upon opening that one, there was a third, with Christmas trees. Remus raised an eyebrow at Sam. "Just how many boxes are there, here? Is there anything in the centre at all?"
"Keep going, Dad," said Teddy, who had sat down at Andrew's feet and was holding his hand.
Rolling his eyes, Remus opened the third box, then a fourth wrapped in candy-cane striped paper. The fifth box, which was only a few inches across, had plain gold foil. "Am I nearly to the end?" asked Remus plaintively, tearing at it. "They can't possibly get much smaller."
This one proved to be the final box. Inside was a slip of parchment with Sam's writing on it. IOU one visit to a "toy" shop. You to choose the toy, and both of us get to play with it. Remus gave Sam a big smile, squeezing his hand. "Thank you, Sam. What a lovely idea."
"What is it?" Teddy demanded.
"Sam gave me an IOU," said Remus. "I don't think you need to know the details, do you?"
Teddy looked as if he were going to say he did, but he let out a breath when Andrew touched his neck. "I suppose not," he admitted. "All right, last one, you have to choose for Andrew now."
Remus nodded and rose, stretching. He chose a small box wrapped in plain brown paper with Andrew's name on it that must have been from Teddy, though the writing on the paper didn't look like Teddy's at all. Remus knew it wasn't from him or Sam, though, and perhaps it had been wrapped by a shop that wrote the name as well.
"Here you are," he said, handing the box to Andrew. Andrew studied it, then looked up, first at Remus, then at Teddy.
"Is this a joke?" he asked.
Remus shook his head. "I'm not sure what you mean--it was under the tree, and it had your name on it."
"I can explain," said Teddy. "The other day, when we were at your flat and you were taking ages in the bathroom--sorry--this little package arrived by owl post. It looked like it might be a Christmas present, so I thought I'd just stick it in my pocket and have it here under the tree for you on Christmas as a surprise. But maybe by the look on your face, um--maybe I should've just given it to you on the day it arrived. I'm sorry. What is it?"
Andrew stared at the package and let out a long breath. "It's from my sisters," he said finally. "That's my sister Gemma's handwriting, anyway. I don't know if I should open it."
Remus thought of about a thousand questions he wanted to ask, but he remained silent, just glanced at Sam, who looked as intrigued as Remus felt.
"Open it," said Teddy, standing and moving behind Andrew's chair to put a hand on his shoulder.
Andrew nodded and took a deep breath, then began to tear at the wrapping. Inside was a gaily-wrapped present with a little card attached, which Andrew read.
"It's from both my sisters," he said quietly, not to anyone in particular, and he opened the present. Inside was a flat box, and from the box, Andrew lifted a tarnished silver star on a faded green ribbon.
"It's my favourite Christmas ornament," he breathed. "They must have taken it out when my mum and dad weren't looking. It has my name on it." He handed it to Teddy, who touched it reverently, then handed it back to him.
"Why don't you put it on the tree, Andrew?" Remus suggested gently.
Andrew nodded. He looked the tree over, then asked Teddy to levitate him up and hung it from one of the high branches near the top. "There," he said. "Okay, you can bring me down."
Teddy lowered Andrew and hugged him, whispering something in his ear that made Andrew both smile and raise his hand to rub at his eyes.
"I think that's probably a good note to end the evening on," said Remus. "Ted, make sure the lights are all out before you go up to bed?"
"I will," said Teddy. "We'll be up in a bit."
"Don't stay up too late or you'll sleep through breakfast," Remus warned him, with a smile to show he wasn't really serious. "Goodnight, boys."
Sam slipped an arm around Remus's waist as they climbed the stairs. It wasn't until they were in Remus's room with the door closed that he said, "Sounds like maybe Andrew's parents had the same sort of reaction as my mother to their son telling them he's gay."
"That seems likely," Remus agreed. "What a shame. At least his sisters seem to be making an effort... although who knows if they know what's going on."
"They probably do." Sam grunted as he bent down to pull off his socks. "Kids almost always know more than their parents want to admit. Which is why such things as Silencing Spells were invented."
"Are you propositioning me?" Remus asked.
"How'd you ever guess?" Sam grinned and pulled out his wand to cast the spell. "What better way to end a lovely Christmas Eve?"
"I can't think of one." Remus gave Sam a hug. "Amazing, really. Six months ago I wouldn't have imagined that I'd be so lucky as to have all this... I know we were already seeing each other, but I didn't know how serious you were. And I certainly didn't have a clue that Ted would be with someone, unless he and Victoire were back together." Which reminded Remus that he needed to mention to Teddy that Harry was assuming Teddy's Boxing Day guest was a girl. Not that Harry would be knowingly rude--he'd accepted Remus's sexuality, after all--but it was bound to be a surprise.
"I'm glad we were both ready to be serious," said Sam, kissing Remus's throat. "Happy Christmas, Remus. I love you."
"And you know I love you," Remus replied, tipping his head back a little to give Sam better access to the tender skin of his neck and throat.
"Are you looking forward to our visit to the toy shop?" asked Sam, stepping back so he could finish undressing.
"Very much," replied Remus, grinning and taking off his clothes. "That was a real surprise, you know."
"I'd hoped it would be," said Sam. "I nearly died when Teddy asked what the present was."
Remus chuckled, remembering his own visit with Teddy to the "toy shop" and realising as he did so that he didn't have the pang of guilt that usually accompanied such memories of Teddy.
"Yes, well," said Remus, crawling onto the bed, "did you see Teddy's face when he saw September on that Quidditch calendar?"
Sam raised his eyebrows and joined Remus on the bed, running his hand up Remus's bare thigh. "Please tell me I'm not the only old pervert who's dying to see September's page," he said.
"You're not," Remus admitted. "I think I'm going to have to sneak a peek when the boys are still in bed in the morning--unless they bring it upstairs with them for safekeeping, I suppose."
"Safekeeping," said Sam, kissing Remus's neck once again, "or inspiration."
Remus smacked him lightly on the shoulder and allowed himself to be pressed to the bed. "You're terrible," he said, but he didn't really mean it--after all, Teddy and Andrew were probably intending to do the same thing he and Sam were doing right now, and Remus knew it.
Conversation fell off as their mouths met, and Remus pulled Sam on top of him so that their bodies were aligned. There was no need to rush their lovemaking, and Remus moved his hands languidly over Sam's skin, feeling every bump and scar and hair.
"Do you want me inside you?" Sam whispered in Remus's ear. "I want to be inside you, Remus."
Remus nodded and kissed Sam's shoulder. "I do want you inside me," he said, "very much."
Sam took his time in preparing Remus, stopping often to lavish kisses on his scarred torso, his legs, his feet, as Remus sighed and groaned and encouraged him on. Finally Sam was ready, his cock nudging at Remus's entrance, Remus's legs gripping high on Sam's back.
"Someday I'm not going to be able to manage this," Remus gasped as Sam began to move into him.
"What?" Sam stopped, concerned.
"This position," Remus clarified. "Not as young and flexible as I used to be."
"Oh. Well, we'll just have to experiment with some others," Sam said, and then his mouth found Remus's as his prick slid home.
Remus held him tightly, just there, enjoying the feel of Sam filling him, his own cock pressed between their warm bellies. He kissed Sam as passionately as he knew how, and when he had to stop to take a deeper breath, he said again, "I love you," the words inadequate, but there were no others. Sam smiled and kissed Remus again, beginning to rock back and forth, needing to adjust his stroke only slightly before Remus indicated that he'd found the sweet spot, and then thrusting, slow and tender, in time with their kisses.
It was almost hypnotic, to feel so close, so loved and loving, and Remus's orgasm crept up on him unexpectedly, the heat of it splashing between them. Sam gave a groan; he pulled Remus closer still and thrust harder, once, twice, then shuddered and came as well.
They lay together in contentment for perhaps a quarter of an hour, and only the thought of how uncomfortable it would be in the morning if they didn't clean up a bit brought Remus to suggest as much to Sam. Quickly they did so, and went back to bed, Sam spooning up behind Remus, Remus holding Sam's hand pressed to his heart. He could remember no better Christmas Eve in his life.