Preface: How We Got Here
"Daddy!" That cry, from the very first time it had left those lips, always made his heart leap against his chest; no matter what form it came in, or what distance it came from. To him, it was a call of promise, a call of hope, and a call of love.
He had been hesitant, at first, in answering to that call. It wasn't that he didn't love the child, he did, he truly did, more than anything that ever walked this Earth or ever would. It was that he didn't want to erase the memory of the boy's real father and was unsure at how he would do at being a 'daddy'; yet, as the cry became more and more frequent, his initial doubts faded away.
"What's up, cub?" Little feet had slammed their body into him, almost knocking him over; little hands had grasped at his trousers, wide emerald eyes looking up at him in idolization from under a fringe of impossible-to-comb ebony hair as the three-year-old spoke with a smile that nearly split his face in half.
"I wove you!"
Oh, those words, spoken so easily, so carelessly. His little cub had no idea just how much power those words had; just how they made him, considered by many to below the lowest of creatures, feel to be entrusted with the most precious of emotions that stemmed from this little boy. It also brought to the forefront of his mind the memory of how this greatest of gifts came into his life...
He had been wandering around the streets of London in a painful daze, unable to think clearly, unable to accept what he had been told by the other members of the Order of the Phoenix; that James and Lily Potter were dead, betrayed by their Secret-Keeper, no one knew where Harry was or if he was even alive, Severus, their spy in Voldemort's ranks, had vanished the same night Harry did, and Peter Pettigrew had been killed by their best friend; Sirius Black, the man who had supposedly betrayed James and Lily.
He couldn't believe that Lily and James were dead, not with all the precautions and Charms they had taken and set up to ensure their safety, baby Harry's safety. If he believed they were dead, it would follow that Harry would be dead as well and the little tyke had so much more in life to see, he had just started to live it...
Severus had earned the grudging respect of the Marauders after he kept silent about Remus' 'furry problem' as James always called it, and it had deepened into something more for Remus when Severus had rescued Lily from Voldemort's grasp, even James had said he wasn't 'entirely a slimy git'. Hearing that he had vanished was a stab to the heart. Maybe he was just laying low, making sure everything was all clear...
Peter being dead wasn't that much of a surprise; he was always crummy at Defense. It wasn't like he hated the bloke, but his death didn't hit as hard as the others. Besides, being killed by Sirius? The man who protected his friends as fearsomely as his Animagus form? After Peter reveled that Sirius had given James and Lily over to Voldemort? Sirius? That just wasn't possible...
Yet the whole world insisted it was, shoving it into his face like some horrible nightmare; Godric Hollow had been destroyed, James and Lily just buried, Harry disappeared into the ether, Severus hadn't been heard from since Harry gone missing, the only remains of Peter that they found were a single finger and Sirius was rotting in Azkaban without the precautions of a trial. Once again, like most of his wretched life, he was all alone.
Stumbling over a curve and falling onto hard cement, he just lay there, letting the overwhelming nothingness of his existence flow over him; he had no home, no family or friends, he couldn't get a job because people treated him, at best, like some sort of horrible monster, and the only people in this world that he ever loved were either dead, imprisoned, or missing.
Send me a sign, he remembered asking that of the sky, the sun, even the white letters that spelled out 'Privet Drive' on the sign above his head. Anything and anyone that would listen to his silent plea. Please, Merlin, send me a sign that my life is still worth living...
"Harry, you are suppose to play over there!" A voice cut through his morbid thoughts, almost hitting a range he had only heard in opera singers on the telly. "Leave my Duddykins alone! Those are not your toys!"
Harry. James' son was Harry, named after an uncle who died fighting Voldemort. Harry. Lily named their son Harry in honor of James' uncle after only an hour of pestering. Harry... The thoughts bounded around his skull like a Bludger, flowing down his legs like electricity and pushed him to his feet, making him follow the voice that called out the name of his best mate's son.
"I swear boy," The voice was closer now, familiar in an unpleasant sort of way, "if you crawl an inch closer to my Diddypoo, I'll- eek!"
He had haphazardly burst through the hedges then, cutting off the woman's threat and making her scream as she darted over to her whale of a son, heave the boy up into her arms and dash into the house, leaving the child called Harry sitting in the dirt, utterly confused.
Then the most incredible thing in his entire life, including meeting James, Lily, Sirius, Peter and Severus, happened; the boy raised his head and turned to him, giggling out his nickname, a name only his closest friends knew, only his closest friends even understood;
"Merlin's staff..." He had sunk to his knees as he gazed in wonderment at the child crawling toward him. It was Harry, all right; James' unruly hair, growing in a little puff on his head, Lily's sparkling, emerald eyes and a wide, trusting smile that belonged to Harry alone.
Apparently, his little journey tired Harry out, for as soon as the little miracle made it to 'Moon-knee's lap, he laid down and promptly took a nap, leaving the man holding him to whisper a single sentence over and over as the tears he had held in himself for so long finally fell.
"Thank you, Merlin. Thank you so much, thank you..."
He had received his sign.
It hadn't taken very long for him to convince the woman to give up the little boy that was now wrapped around his legs, it had taken much longer, not to mention much more of a headache, to convince the Lily's sister that he wasn't after her son as well. He just thanked whoever listened to his earlier plea that she was in too much of a rush to get rid of Harry to ask too many questions.
The real kick in the teeth had been that Dumbledore had sent the boy to these people, to this woman who obviously favored her own son above her nephew, that treated Harry like some old rag to be thrown away. That Dumbledore, the man he had trusted since childhood, had known and had not said a single word to him, hadn't even simply stated that Harry was alive and being cared for, simply pretended ignorance like everyone else.
So he returned the favor; taking Harry and all of his things, few that they were, he brought them to his parent's home and made a life for them. He taught Muggle children at the preschool/kindergarten that Harry went to and cut them off from the wizarding world completely. He even removed them from the Floo network so that there would be no unexpected visitors. Harry may not have had all the luxuries that he so rightfully deserved, but he had plenty of what Remus had always wanted to give: warmth, caring and a loving family.
A loving family was what the boy really needed, for those first few days with Harry and finding out just how he had lived his life prior to Remus saving him had really tested Remus' self control; it was all he could do not to go back to that house on Privet Drive and Curse the hell out of those disgusting Muggles that had mistreated his boy so badly...
For every time he had shouted, whether from burning his hand when he attempted cooking or cheering on a game on the telly, Harry would flinch horribly and almost immediately stop what he was doing, falling over himself in his need to apologize. It made Remus sick to the stomach at the thought of how Harry had lived his life, being so scared of everything.
Another thing that proved that Remus was, by nature, a peaceful, even-tempered man was what had happened when he had first tried hugging Harry; he had wrapped his arms around the small frame and had been unpleasantly shocked when the boy had tightened his body up almost immediately, causing several things to pop. Remus was so afraid Harry was going to hurt himself tensing up like that, he nearly dropped the boy in his haste to release him.
From then on, he never tried to embrace Harry on his own, he instead let Harry initiate the touching; only giving him an occasional, brief, one-armed hug around the shoulders or a quick pat on the head when he did something he had been trying so hard to accomplish, like when Harry finally learned how to use the loo. He didn't want to push his affections on a little boy that rarely felt it in his short time at his Aunt's.
Then came that day, that glorious, wondrous, summer day, when two-year-old Harry had ran down the stairs after Remus had called him for breakfast, clad only in his striped pajama bottoms because he was still trying to learn how to dress himself, and wrapped his skinny arms around Remus' legs for no reason at all and called him, for the very first time-
"Daddy?" Looking down at Harry still wrapped around his legs, he saw that he had been absorbed in his past thoughts for too long, the endearing sparkle that he oh-so-adored in those bright green eyes had faded into a dim fear that his feelings for his father weren't reciprocated.
Kneeling in front of the small child that could make him feel all-powerful and completely worthless at the same time, that had given him a reason to keep on living when he was at the lowest point in his life, Remus John Lupin wrapped Harry James Potter in his arms and felt those tiny fists clench tightly, trustingly, to him as he gently squeezed his son and whispered, "I love you too, cub, I love you too."
A/N; Yeah, yeah, I know. I should be working on A Light in the Dark, I Am Lord Voldemort or my many other Harry Potter fics, but this one was a challenge and I do so love challenges!
As always, Harry Potter doesn't belong to me, I'm just borrowing this universe.