Summary: Two young men, two infants, two generations, and promises made on the brink of war and in its aftermath: the legacy of family and a godfather's love.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Harry, Sirius, Teddy, James (Sr.), Lily, Andromeda
Word Count: ~4,000
Title, Author and URL of original story: In Still, Quiet Moments by mindabbles.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to my betas, inksheddings & djin7! Min, I know we're not technically writing for the original author, but I hope you enjoy how I re-imagined your story anyway!
Harry smoothed his hand gently over the soft tuft of red-brown hair, watching as it turned blue at the ends while Teddy yawned and blinked dark, sleepy eyes. Teddy's flailing hand found Harry's thumb and he marvelled at the surprisingly strong grip.
His godson. He had a godson. The concept was still new to him and it filled him with a sense of awe and pride, and not a little fear; this infant, so tiny, with podgy fingers and toes and the tiniest little fingernails and toenails, and a button of a nose. He searched the baby's face for the hundredth time for the slightest resemblance to either of his parents, but Andromeda had told him it was still a bit too early to tell.
He rested his forehead gently against Teddy's for a moment and gave him a quick kiss, his fingers still smoothing the child's hair, which had briefly returned to its natural dark brown, though he could still see a bit of blue around the short fringe.
There was a squeezing ache in his chest as he thought of Remus and Tonks, who would never see their son grow up, never hold him in their arms like this, hear his first word, watch him learn to crawl, to stand, to walk. And there it was: that surging, almost painful wave of protectiveness and fierce love that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him. There were many people that he loved, but he hadn't been prepared at all for this…this…
He couldn't even describe it to himself; words paled in the face of such raw emotion, and he thought fleetingly of Professor Dumbledore's repeated claims about love and its inherent power. An image of his parents, Sirius, and Remus as he had last seen them flashed in his mind, and as he continued to watch the sleeping face of his godson, for a brief moment, he understood exactly how Voldemort had been defeated.
Sirius balked as James tried to transfer a newborn Harry into his hands.
"Merlin's balls, Prongs! He's too little. What if I squash him?"
James laughed. "Don't be ridiculous. You'd face a half dozen Death Eaters but you're afraid to hold a sprog? Bloody coward."
"Don't be rude, James," Lily said from the bed, tired but radiant. "Half hour ago you were terrified you'd drop him on his head."
"Ha!" Sirius said as James shot his wife a hurtful look.
"Just support his head, Sirius, and you'll be fine. He's a lot less delicate than he looks, I promise," Lily continued.
He still felt dubious, but took the blanket-wrapped bundle from James, his arms stiff and formal. Harry seemed to realise he was no longer with his father because, without opening his eyes, he opened a toothless mouth and let out a howl.
Sirius' eyes went wide and he tried to hand the baby back. "I told you I'd do it wrong. Take him back!"
James folded his arms and shook his head.
"Prongs! Bloody hell, is he loud! Don't be an arse, I can't do this."
"Stop holding him like he's a diseased Mandrake," James said loudly over Harry's cries, and reached over to bend Sirius' elbows.
"Well he sounds like one," Sirius said, pulling the baby against his chest and bouncing him lightly. Babies liked to be bounced, didn't they? Merlin, he was tiny! "Hush, kiddo, c'mon, work with me here." Harry continued to cry and Sirius looked to Lily, pleading. "He's hungry, right?"
Lily shook her head. "I just fed him before you got here. Stop being such a big girl's blouse and hold your godson."
"Shhh," Sirius said, his voice softer, still bouncing Harry. "Be good for your Uncle Padfoot, won't you? You're making me look bad."
Harry scrunched up his red face and flailed his arms, and his loud cries tapered off into a hiccup. He yawned and turned his face toward Sirius' chest, one tiny hand clenching at his shirt.
"Hey! It worked! This godfather stuff isn't so hard after all. I'm a natural," he said, feeling smug. "Christ, Jamie, the little bugger's got your hair, poor thing." He leaned forward to rub his nose against Harry's. "Awww, look at him! Who's a cute little bu—" He wrinkled his nose as a strong odour wafted up from the blankets, and he realised that his hand, the one supporting Harry's little bum, was damp and a bit sticky.
"Is it me, or does his nose look different?"
Andromeda glanced over at Teddy in his pram and nodded absently. "It's possible. Nymphadora was like that," she said, her eyes sad and her expression momentarily distant before turning back to the bag she was packing.
"I've got nappies and ointment, some of those Muggle disposable cloths and a change of clothes, that stuffed dog you brought him last time, because he'll want that when he wakes, two bottles, a blanket for you to sit on, and some scraps of bread to feed the ducks. And some food for you as well," she added, frowning. "I know I'm forgetting something."
Harry walked over and put his arm around her shoulder. "We're just going down the road, and you're just going for tea with your friends and to the grocer's. We'll be fine. I think."
She turned in his arms and embraced him. "Oh, Harry, you're such a dear, coming around as often as you do. I know you're busy, between the restoration and helping Kingsley—"
"I'm never too busy for my godson. All the rest can wait."
She pulled back and looked up at his face. "So young, and here you are changing nappies. Remus and Dora—" She broke off, and Harry squeezed her shoulder.
"I know," he said over the lump in his throat and smiled gently. "Go. And don't hurry back on my account. Getting out once in a while is good for you, and this isn't any bother for me, you know that."
She smiled gratefully and handed him the bag, kissing his cheek. "I still have those boxes Remus left for you in the attic. One day when you have some time, but no rush." She walked over to kiss her sleeping grandson before leaving them alone in the kitchen.
"Oh, Harry, don't forget to keep his cap on. The Muggles, you know," she called out, and he heard her Disapparate with a pop.
Harry pulled on his own hat, shouldered the bag and pushed the pram out the side door, heading out the back gate through a neighbour's yard and onto the street toward the park. There were still reporters who slunk around the front of the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of The Chosen One and his godson, the Werewolf's Metamorphmagus son, and they'd had to keep protective charms up around the house to keep them from nosing about the yard. Harry grit his teeth and shook his head. His previous experience with Rita Skeeter was enough that he understood the reason for their persistence—Harry and Teddy were 'News'—but the unrelenting rudeness still angered him all the same.
The sun was bright and the weather seasonably warm on this late July day as he pushed the pram, Teddy cooing and blowing saliva bubbles in his sleep under the bonnet, and he brushed aside his outrage as he walked.
He'd be eighteen in a week's time. Molly Weasley had insisted on a party, despite his protests, and he had conceded to tea at the Burrow with the Weasley family, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Neville's Gran, Hagrid, and Kingsley, if he could make it, and of course Andromeda and Teddy; Harry's family.
He was painfully aware of those missing from the guest list, and even now, two and a half months later, the losses they'd all suffered were still raw. He stopped himself from reading off the list in his head. He didn't need a list anyway; he felt their absence daily, and he still could not meet George's eye without feeling waves of guilt washing over him, trying to drag him under with the tide. George didn't blame him, none of the Weasleys did, but in his heart, he still blamed himself, as foolish and useless as that was.
Andromeda had been rather no-nonsense about it. He'd tried to apologize to her, but she'd silenced him with a finger and shaken her head, and told him no apologies would ever be necessary between them. Later that evening, she'd found him weeping silent tears as he held a sleeping Teddy, rocking slowly in the ancient wooden rocking chair in Teddy's bedroom. She'd taken the child from him and lain him in his cot, then gathered Harry in her arms and held him as they both wept. They'd never spoken about it afterwards, but there wasn't anything more that needed to be said.
It was strange to him that he'd never really known her before. They'd met that one awful night the previous summer when he'd nearly mistaken her for her sister, and really, that was no way to start any kind of friendly relations with anyone. Their relationship had been born of a shared sense of loss and grief, forged by their connections to Teddy, and had grown into a mutual respect and love that could only be defined as family.
"I'm going to be a father!" James said for the three-thousandth, five-hundred and ninety-seventh time in the last eight and a half months. And just as he had for the last three-thousand five-hundred and ninety times, Sirius rolled his eyes, sighed, and refrained from smacking James in the head.
He can't help it if he's a gormless, henpecked, poncy little tit. He imagined smacking James in the head and felt a lot better for it. He grinned and downed the dregs of his firewhisky.
"I know!" James said, oblivious or drunk or quite possibly both. "Me! But I have a favour to ask of you."
"Lily's tired of your pathetically undersized prick, and she wants a real man to—"
"No, y'wanker, it's not about me or my prick, and Lily is more than satisfied, thanks. It's about my son. Or daughter. Merlin, what if it's a girl? I don't know anything about girls!"
"They've got tits, they don't have pricks, they're daft about clothes and cleanliness, and they get cranky every month. Actually, you should be used to the cranky bit, you lived with Moony for seven years," he added, refilling his glass and raising it in a silent toast.
"I'm sure he'll be pleased to hear you think he's a girl. And thanks, because I didn't know any of that bunk already. No, I— Shut it, I'm trying to ask you something serious, and if you interrupt me to make some daft joke or pun about that last bit, I'll hex your bollocks off."
Sirius laughed and threw a bottlecap at James' head. "All right, fine. Ask, but I'll tell you right now, I'm not changing any nappies. The only load of cack I want to see—"
"We want you to be the baby's godfather, you great git," James said, and threw the bottlecap back, striking him in the forehead.
Sirius stared. "Godfather. Like the Muggles do?"
"Wizards do it, too, you know," James said. "What, you don't have a godfather?"
"Are you daft? Wizards may do it, but it came from the Muggles. My family adopt a Muggle tradition? Ha! It pains them that they have to breathe the same air. So wait, you have a godfather?"
James nodded. "Had. He died when I was fourteen. You remember my Uncle Orrick, mum's brother."
Sirius laughed. "The bloke who blew off his arse cheek and couldn't sit down after? The one Moody's always going on about? He was your godfather? How did I not know this?"
"Oi, enough about my uncle. And he did too sit down. Just needed a special cushioning charm is all, and anyway, you, godfather to my sprog, and you'd better say yes."
"Lily would have asked nicer."
"Does that mean yes?"
The words "of course, you arse," were on the tip of his tongue, but he paused as the realisation sank in. He had no idea what a godfather actually did. He sat back in his chair and took a deep drink, sober for the first time all evening.
"Merlin, Prongs, I have no idea how to be a godfather. I don't even know what it means."
"Oh, well." James scratched his head. "I think Muggles have some really formal ceremony with blood and wine and some kind of sacrifice, and there are all these special rules to do with God and their churches. But for us—me and Lily, I mean—we just want you to, you know, be there for him—or her—like an uncle, like family, only more, and, well, if anything ever happened to me or Lily…"
Sirius didn't need him to finish that sentence. Not with the current state of the wizarding world, and the future seemed even more grim as Voldemort gained more power and more followers every day.
"Yeah," he said. "I'd do that anyway, you know. You do know that, don't you?"
James nodded. "Yeah. I know. You've always been family to me. But we wanted to ask. I wanted to ask."
"Speaking of, it's one in the eye for the ol' family, too. My mum'll go completely spare, you know she will." He shook his head. "Godfather."
James raised his glass. "I'll make sure to send her the announcement."
He felt completely giddy and he bounced a little bit in his seat, grinning widely.
"I'm going to be a godfather!"
The park wasn't crowded, but there were a number of families out enjoying the warm summer day. Harry pulled his cap down to hide his scar, more out of habit than any real concern; this was a Muggle neighbourhood, though one never knew who might be lurking about.
They sat by the edge of the small pond, Teddy sitting up in his lap as Harry tossed bits of bread to the greedy ducks, reaching out chubby arms and shrieking in delight as the ducks chased after each morsel and fought with each other for the prize.
"Oi, ye daft—There's plenty more," Harry scolded them when two of the more belligerent ducks waddled onto the shore toward them, snapping at each other. Teddy was trying to lean forward, arms outstretched as Harry reached into the bag for more bread. He tossed a small handful far out into the pond and the two ducks flapped away after it, squawking and still pecking at each other as Teddy continued to babble at them.
He wondered if his parents or Sirius had ever taken him to feed the ducks when he was small. He shook his head ruefully and thought, probably not; it would have been too dangerous. He had no memories of his childhood, and that always saddened him. Sirius had bought him his first broom, he knew now—as he would do for Teddy in turn—but he ached for the actual memory of it.
He knew so little, and this thought troubled him frequently. Often, he would wake in the night, his heart racing as he scrabbled for a quill and ink, and anything he could find to write upon, scribbling frantic, half-forgotten fragments of memories of both Remus and Tonks before they faded into the night. It wasn't much, but it was more than he had of his own parents, and he wanted to give to Teddy what he could not have for himself.
So alike, you and I, he thought: orphaned by the war, starting life when the world was celebrating, but those who loved you most were grieving or gone.
Two young boys—one dark-haired, one blond—shrieked with laughter, chasing each other around the pond and startling the ducks as their parents watched, smiling. The boys stopped before Harry and Teddy and asked if they could borrow some of their bread to feed the ducks. The blond boy was making funny faces while his brother showed Teddy his blue plastic Frisbee. Teddy giggled and once again reached out his arms to try to grab this shiny new thing, obviously enthralled, the ducks forgotten. Harry shook his head and adjusted Teddy's knit cap, tucking in an errant lock of hair in the back, now blue like the Frisbee.
Harry smiled, handing them the bag, and thought, so different too.
"What the hell am I supposed to do with this?" he'd said, puzzled and even slightly offended.
Lily had merely laughed at him and replied, "Whatever you want to do with it. But no naughty pictures, or so help me, Sirius Black!"
"This" was a Muggle journal, and Lily had given it to him the week after the McKinnons had been murdered, and Marlene's aging mother had taken her young, orphaned granddaughter and left for the Continent.
"You want me to—to keep a diary? Are you out of your bleeding mind?"
"Not a diary. A journal. It's…" She'd trailed off and turned away, the smile and any hint of laughter gone from both her expression and her voice. "For Harry," she'd said. "If something happens…to us, to you…I—"
He'd nodded, though with her face turned away, she couldn't see. He'd thumbed through the blank pages, the black cover ominous, and the journal itself a reminder of everything they had to lose.
"For Harry," he'd said.
Now, he stared at the journal on the table next to him, the binding slightly cracked with use. He turned his head away and looked down at his six-month old godson in his lap. He smiled and smoothed Harry's hair, which still refused to lay flat. Ah, Prongs, your legacy. At least it looks like he's going to have Lily's eyes.
"I'll always be there for you, kiddo," he whispered. "I mean it. I'll die before I let anything happen to you."
The way he felt about Harry had come as a complete surprise to him. He loved Remus and Peter and Lily. And James, of course. There was no describing how he felt about James. Professor McGonagall had often remarked that they were two bodies sharing the same brain, and while she meant it as derision, Sirius had taken it as a compliment. They were as close as any two people who weren't sleeping together could possibly be, and he'd never really given his feelings much thought before. Well, he'd thought about them, but he'd never felt a need to explain them.
But Harry was different. Here was this miniature human, who spent most of the time sleeping, eating, pooping, and wailing like a Mandrake, and who smelt like sour milk and talcum powder with the occasional aroma of cacky nappy thrown into the mix. He didn't understand a word you said to him and couldn't speak English, so you couldn't even have a proper conversation, and yet…
Yet, this child was the most precious thing in the world to him. He'd been drooled on, spit up on, pissed on, pooped on, and he didn't care. Of course he didn't tell anyone that, and Harry was far too young to tattle on him. Every spare moment he could possibly find, he spent with his godson, the black journal close at hand as he told Harry silly stories and tried to put his feelings into words. It was inadequate and occasionally frustrating, but he'd come to enjoy it anyway.
He'd never really considered having children of his own, and though he joked about it, he actually was wary of passing on his genes to another generation. He was the last, now that Regulus was dead, and he was determined that the malignant trunk of his family tree, so self-important and putrid and inbred for centuries, would end with him. And he was content with that. He didn't need a child of his blood any more than he needed a family of his blood. James was his brother, Lily had become the sister he'd never had, and Harry was the child of his heart, and it was enough.
"So different, you and I," Sirius whispered, and Harry blinked sleepily up at him. Well, maybe not so different, really, he thought. James and Lily loved them both after all, and he supposed he was loved by his own family once, when he was this small. Before he knew any better; before he learned what the world was like and that for some, love came at a price.
But Harry wouldn't have to suffer that way, wouldn't have to seek out a family, or grow up without knowing love; real unconditional love. He would see to that, or die trying. Of that he was certain.
"All right then, Harry. I guess it's time for another one of Padfoot's Bedtime Tales of Mischief and Mayhem." He reached for the leather journal and pulled a Quick Quotes Quill from his jacket pocket. "Love these things. They make the story even more sordid. Right. The usual disclaimer applies, no tattling to your mum, no laughing at your dad at inappropriate moments, and no matter what your dad says, my version of the story is always the true and proper one.
"So," he said, opening the journal to a fresh page and activating the quill, which quivered in anticipation as it hovered over the page. "Have I ever told you about the time when your dad and Remus and Peter and I went out in Muggle London, summer before sixth year, and were nearly arrested for Solicitation?"
There had been any number of times in the past couple of months when he'd wished he could have just gone off with his parents, with Sirius and Remus, boarded a train in that misty Kings Cross station of his imagination, journeying to destinations unknown, to the family that should have been his all along.
It wasn't that he wished he'd died, just at times he felt that maybe he should have. He was barely eighteen years old and he felt as though he'd already lived a lifetime, several lifetimes in fact, including lives that weren't even his own. But then he'd think of Ron and Hermione who were with him daily as they helped to rebuild Hogwarts before the start of the fall term; he thought of his parents who had died so that he might live, and Sirius, who had sacrificed and lost so much, who had given in to his despair and suffered for it. He thought of Remus and Tonks who had gambled and risked, and paid with their lives to help bring about a world where their son could live and thrive and grow; and he thought about Teddy.
"You'll be godfather?" Remus had said, embracing him. "You, yes, of course—Dora quite agrees, no one better—"
He'd never seen Remus look more joyful and alive as he had that day at Shell Cottage when he'd brought them all word of the birth of his son. As he reached down to tickle Teddy's belly while the two of them lay on the blanket in the shade of a horse chestnut tree, listening to the sound of Teddy giggling over the light rustle of the leaves above, and watching his flailing arms and legs, his wide, toothless grin and his rosy, sun-dappled cheeks, Harry felt an echo of that same joy in his own heart.
This, he thought. This is what life is about. Teddy was a part of him now, and there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for him.
"I will always—" Harry paused, the unspoken 'be here for you' still on the tip of his tongue. An image of Sirius whispering that exact phrase to a black-haired, green-eyed baby seventeen years ago, and meaning it as intensely as Harry did now, flashed across his mind. He quickly decided not to start out Teddy's life making promises he couldn't keep.
He leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Teddy's forehead, and whispered the promise that Sirius had managed to keep:
"I will always love you."
Author's Note: Remus' dialogue in the last section was taken verbatim from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. [Chapter 25, US HB, page 514]