Disclaimers: Harry Potter is the property of J.K. Rowling and her publishers. The artist/author of this work receives no profit from it, nor do the creators/maintainers of hpqfac or quillsforacause. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Notes/Dedications: Back in the heady days of 2006 when I was putting Ron through hell I hit my one thousand review mark for my fic Within These Walls. Xheartkreuzx was reviewer one thousand. I said I would write the fic of her choice as a prize. She asked for a Harry/Weasleys (mainly Arthur Weasley) bonding fic.
This is what I came up with.
Harry wandered into the living room at the Burrow, looking for Arthur to tell him that Ginny wasn't feeling well and they were going to go home. He found the man cooing over his little grandson Sam.
"Sorry to disturb you," Harry whispered, not wanting to wake the baby, "but Ginny's getting really grumpy and uncomfortable in this sticky heat. I'm going to take her home now."
Arthur's eyes twinkled as he looked up at Harry.
"Not long now eh?" he beamed. "Not long before you're sitting with a little miracle like this one."
Harry forced a smile onto his face and nodded.
"Yeah, just a few weeks, it'll be great."
Arthur chuckled at this and shifted baby Sam in his arms so Harry could see his face.
"Look at him Harry, so much like his father, isn't he?"
Harry smiled sadly and nodded.
"Especially the eyes, yeah."
"And the nose," Arthur ran his wrinkled finger, roughened by time, down the baby's narrow nose, "going to be just like Ron, aren't you?"
The baby scrunched up his nose, then his whole face, before waggling his pudgy arms around and settling down again.
"No freckles," Harry gestured uncomfortably, "must have Hermione's complexion."
"Oh Harry babies aren't born with freckles!" Arthur chortled, "freckles come with the sun and this little one has to stay out of the sun for a while," the old man directed his gaze back at little Sam and looked almost awe struck, "such delicate skin. We don't want to burn it do we Sammy? No we don't!"
Harry cleared his throat and leaned backwards out the doorway to see Ginny fuming as her mother fussed over her huge belly and rabbitted on about her first pregnancy and how, by the time Ginny was born, she could go the whole nine months without complaining once.
'I had a family to think of dear, no time to complain about swollen ankles.'
Ginny would always come home from the Burrow in a fury at her mother. Hormones and the Weasley temper led to lots of ranting about her mother the martyr and how pregnancy isn't a competition.
"Look I think Ginny's about to blow her top, I really should g-"
"Why will you never spend any time with little Sam?" Arthur asked him kindly but with an unusual amount of blunt force for such a non-confrontational man.
"I...well..." Harry tried not to squirm as he moved towards the door, still desperate to leave, "it's not Sam! I like Sam, I love him, he's my little nephew and my best friends' only son."
"I didn't ask you if you loved Sammy, I asked you why you never spent any time with him." Arthur sat up and stepped towards Harry, the red haired baby cradled in his arms. "You come to the house, grinning like a cat that got the cream and as soon as you see this little one you go green and turn around to talk to Charlie about parasites found in dragon dung!"
Harry laughed nervously.
"Charlie's the one who brought that up," he shrugged, "I was just doing a lot of nodding."
Arthur looked utterly unconvinced and stepped even closer with the baby.
"Are you scared of babies or are you just scared of Ron's baby?"
"What?" Harry's eyes grew so wide they filled the frames of his glasses completely.
Arthur held out the babe in arms and a terrified Harry reluctantly took him, making sure to cradle the child in the way Ginny had ordered him to practice with a plastic doll. Harry forced a smile onto his face and tried to rock the infant gently.
"I'm not scared of you, am I Sam?"
The baby squirmed and cracked his bright blue eyes open a fraction before making an unhappy whining noise and staring at Harry.
"Um, maybe you should take him ba-" Harry tried to hand the baby over to Arthur again.
"He's fine with his Uncle Harry." Arthur nodded confidently.
Sam stared up at Harry with wide unblinking eyes for what felt like an eternity. Harry hated that, it was so creepy. How was it possible to never ever blink?
"Go on Sammy, back to sleep," Harry said nervously, bobbing himself up and down in a way he'd seen Hermione doing when her son was acting up.
The baby turned beetroot red and began to scream his head off.
"Oh God take him, he doesn't like me just take him back!" Harry begged Arthur, but the older man simply stepped back and smiled serenely.
"I'm sorry Harry but at some point your own little one is going to scream like that and you will have to deal with him."
"But...it might be his nappy or he might want feeding and I've not practiced any of that yet, can't you just...?"
"He doesn't want anything Harry, he's just being temperamental and you have to calm him down."
Harry felt like setting the kid on a sofa cushion and running away.
"Do you want your mummy? Is that it?"
"He wants to feel safe and comfortable Harry and he knows you feel neither. He's just reacting to your tension."
"Well take him then!" Harry snapped holding the child out to Arthur in desperation.
Sam screamed even louder and Arthur sat down in his chair and crossed his legs.
"Deal with your nephew, Harry," he said as he folded his arms across his chest.
"But..." Harry held the child to him and began to pace up and down the living room with him. "Shhhhh, come on Sammy, be a good boy. Be a good boy for daddy's friend Harry."
There was no change in Sam's demeanour and Harry slumped down onto the sofa and tried bouncing the wailing child on his knee.
"I wouldn't Harry, unless you want to make him sick," Arthur warned.
"See I don't know this stuff, I shouldn't have him, I'll do something wrong and he doesn't like me holding him anyway. Please take him back Arthur, please?"
Arthur drew in a deep breath and smiled as he leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees.
"I remember when Ronnie was placed into my arms for the first time."
Harry froze and swallowed, still rocking the crying baby from side to side on his lap.
"All skin and bones he was, like a little pink Whippet! He didn't open his eyes for so long, Molly said the room was too bright for him, and I held him and talked to him and coaxed him into lifting his little eyelid with those fine little copper hairs along the edge of it and he peeped out at me."
Harry felt a lump in his throat that he couldn't swallow and the redness of Sam's skin was making him feel hot.
"And I said, 'hello little man I'm your daddy'."
"What did he do?" Harry forced the words out hoarsely.
Arthur looked into space with a blissful smile on his face and replied.
"He urinated on me."
Harry gave a weak chuckle.
"But he looked at me. He looked at me for an age without blinking once. He looked at me and I looked back and I thought, yes – this is it. I thought that in that moment we saw each other and we were going to be alright."
"So that's what I have to do then?" Harry asked, shakily. "I just stare him out, do I?"
"I can't tell you what to do Harry," Arthur sighed, "I can only tell you that you will just know. You will know what is right for your child, for each individual child. You know why Sammy's stares at you like that."
Harry looked back down at the sniffing baby, the puce shade fading back to a healthier pink now, and bit his bottom lip.
"Maybe he doesn't like the glasses."
"He likes mine, Harry."
"Okay...maybe...maybe he doesn't like green eyes."
"Or?" Arthur said with a smile of encouragement.
"Maybe he's staring at me because I'm staring at him."
Arthur beamed. Harry looked up at him.
"Could that be it?"
"We'll never know but it's an idea Harry and it's your idea...your instinct. Instinct is always a marvellous thing to follow as far as babies are concerned. My instinct was to look right into my son's brand new soul and come to a silent understanding with him."
Harry looked down at Sam and gave a sad sigh.
"Sammy never got to do that with Ron. Ron never got to look at his boy like that. He never even got to see him."
Arthur got up from his chair and ruffled Harry's hair.
"And yet Sammy never needed his father to see him to be bound to Ron in an instant, did he?"
Harry looked down at the little redhead as the blue eyes closed and he dribbled. Harry chuckled silently and wiped the baby's chin with the cuff of his sleeve.
"More like your dad than you know," he mumbled.
"Oi!" Ron said from the doorway, passing a pleased as punch looking Arthur. "What's that supposed to mean? Has he shat himself?"
"No, but I'm disturbed that's the first thing you thought of having in common with your son Ron," Harry sniggered.
"That was your fault Potter," Ron grumbled, as he felt his way along the side of the sofa and sat himself down on the armrest, "who takes a bloke to a curry house for the first time on his stag night anyway?"
Harry shifted in his seat and lifted Sam up towards Ron.
"He's right in front of you mate," Ron felt for Sam, traced the contours of his shape through the blanket and then leaned in and took his weight from Harry's arms, "there ya go, back to daddy."
"Was that him screaming just now? I honestly can't tell between him and Ginny these days."
"Oh she's not still at it with your mother is she?" Harry groaned.
"They've gone volcanic; the grass is smouldering beneath their feet. I know well enough by now to walk away from the smell of burning."
"This is a lesson you just learned?" Harry said, raising an eyebrow unnecessarily.
"Shut up!" Ron grinned before lowering his long nose down to Sam's face and dragging the tip of it from his forehead all the way down to his chin.
Ron had done that when his son had been handed to him for the very first time. He had traced the baby's profile and inhaled his scent and declared that his face was all squishy. Hermione claimed she felt a little squishy herself. Sam had looked at his daddy, stared up at eyes that didn't stare back, and made a gurgling noise. Ron had laughed and leaned over, whispering into his newborn son's face.
'You're so beautiful.'
Harry watched as Sammy's eyes opened and he looked up to see his father was holding him. The little chubby hand rose up and batted at Ron's chest. Ron turned his face down towards the baby and grinned.
"Were you giving Uncle Harry trouble, ya little demon?"
Sam made a happy burbling sound and kept on reaching up for Ron's face. Ron seemed to know and bent down lower. The tiny fingers grabbed the end of Ron's nose and Ron blew a raspberry against Sam's belly before kissing him on the forehead and getting up from the armrest.
"Mind seeing me through to the garden, Harry?" he asked with a yawn.
"Sure," Harry smiled as he got up and cupped Ron's elbow with the palm of his hand. "Lead on."
Ron had the lay of the land pretty much memorised but little things like chairs pulled out and people wandering around still needed a little navigation. As Harry passed Arthur they shared a smile.
In a few weeks time he would know what to do. He would know his child on instinct.
He would know.
A/N Collossal appriciation to Cat (tincat here and mjki5cr4 on Live Journal) for her own contribution to my sponsorship to Quills For a Cause - her off to beta my contributions.