Disclaimer: I don't need one. It's mine. Oh look, there's a pig flying over Salcombe.
A/N: Requiem fic-verse but you needn't have read it.
Remus Lupin was completely confused. It didn't happen often which only made Harry feel worse as he paced around the room and almost pulled out clumps of his own hair. This was the man who had faced Voldemort a grand total of seven times. This was the man who had abandoned his schooling to save the Wizarding world. This was the man who had actually eaten one of Kreacher's infamous omelettes.
"What's it like?"
Lupin frowned. "Do you want the truth or a white lie?"
Harry ran a hand through his hair. "Truth first."
"And then the white lie?" asked Lupin, his amusement plain.
"And then the white lie, yeah."
Lupin sighed. "All right. They don't stop crying. They won't let you dress them. They won't sleep. They won't eat. They'll cry when you try to have them Christened. They won't let you get away for even a minute's peace. They don't like it when you're trying to have a quiet five minutes with a book and you don't read aloud to them. They talk through everything you want to listen to and they listen to odd music. Oh yes, and you can kiss goodbye to sex."
Harry paled, worried both by the thought of the child that would be part of his family in a mere month and the fact that his former teacher had brought up the subject of sex. "And the lie?"
"Oh that," Lupin smiled grimly. "Fatherhood's a dream; an absolute dream." The bags under his eyes were testament to his sarcasm. Though a little of the grey had been removed from his hair, and the twinkle had returned to his eyes, he looked older than he ever had after a month of no sleep.
The Lupins had been 'blessed' with a second child only a month previously - a daughter, named for Remus' mother and on whom they both doted while Teddy wrinkled his nose and stayed away from her, presumably pretending she didn't exist.
"People keep telling me we'll never bond and I'm being told to go to St. Mungo's and stay out of the room, hold her hand through it and stay at home. How the hell am I supposed to do all that?" His nails had been bitten to the quick. Harry picked at the skin around them.
Lupin shook his head. "Ginny will tell you what to do and whatever it is, even if it's practicing contortionism whilst playing the violin, just do it."
"And as for not bonding, that's nonsense. I love Emma and I don't breastfeed her, funnily enough."
Harry laughed and finally smiled back.
"I felt completely incompetent with a girl. I was all set for another son. We were going to call him Sirius because it was November the eighteenth, so I didn't even have a name for her. I was thrown in the deep-end. Look at it this way, did you know that children with good father/child relationships do better in exams? And who's going to fund her first holiday? And having a dad around keeps children sane - as sane as any child who's half-Weasley is ever going to be." Lupin grinned at him.
Harry gave him a half smile and said, dryly, "No pressure then."
"Talk to the baby all the time - and I mean all the time. Keep practising, it's the only way you'll get to be good with children. Give feeding a go, help putting them to bed, just do a bit of everything. Remember how terrified I was of Ted? I came to realise that as long as I didn't drop him on his head or leave him to fend for himself, he was going to be all right. He might not have parents who rake it in, his clothes might be knitted by Molly, but let's face it, Harry, compared to a child called It, he's had a non-stop party."
Harry took a deep breath. "Yeah and Ted's okay with me, isn't he?"
"Okay with you? Yes, Harry, and Dementors make you a little bit sad."
Harry beamed. "It'll be okay, won't it?"
Lupin nodded. "Don't misunderstand me, I love Emma. I love Emma with all my heart, but I had played a huge part in Ted's birth and there was an automatic bond there. I was the first person who held him, who told him he was perfect, the usual stuff. With Emma, I adored her but I didn't really like her. She keeps me up at night and she never seems to want me, always her mother, whereas sometimes Teddy cried and wouldn't stop until he was with me. And yesterday, she grabbed my finger and I'm head over heels. Trust me, it might not be a walk in the park but the simplest things become mammoth events."
"But what do I do? How do I make it love me?"
Lupin laughed. "Just a hunch, but maybe stop referring to him as 'It'."
It was strange notion, thought Harry, knowing that in a month he would have a son; a little boy he and Ginny had agreed to call James and later, glad that the Lupins had produced a daughter, added Sirius for a middle name. It was all going very well. Harry had names he thought were appropriate, a nursery decked out in baby blue and Ron had accepted the role of godfather. It was all going swimmingly until he had had what Lupin was calling a mental breakdown, but what Harry had diagnosed as mere cold-feet.
"Have Dad-time," said Lupin. "Mine is Sunday mornings with Ted and Wednesday evenings with Emma. It's great. No Mums allowed. Me, Ted, a toy broomstick, and some fruit."
Harry dreaded to think and had no intention of asking. Maybe it was a Dad thing and he'd have a sudden urge to buy a broom and a punnet of strawberries as soon as James arrived home.
"And just some advice," said Lupin quietly, blushing slightly. "Her breasts are going to look like something out of a Renaissance painting but you're not going to be allowed anywhere near them so don't even try for at least six weeks." He cleared his throat. "But it gets better. You just have to be organised. Sex isn't about how turned on you are. It's a military operation." For the first time during his speech he made eye contact with Harry who he was relieved to find was not traumatised by the subject coming from him. "And be on hand all the time. Bring food, shoo people away, and run baths. And then you won't be blamed for anything. It's wonderful. You're immune."
Harry beamed at him. One thing that could be said for Remus Lupin was that he never minced his words. He was an appalling liar and he had a history of always being honest with him. Harry trusted him implicitly and though he felt far too young to be a father, he reminded himself that his father had done it when he was a year younger than he was.
Lupin smiled warmly. "And forget what I told you. One smile from Ted can make a whole bad day disappear. And you get to play with rockets and pocket-potion kits and all manner of brilliant children's toys. I don't know which genius invented Hungry, Hungry Hippogriffs. It's addictive. I'm convinced it's not even a child's game. Ted was fed-up long before I was. And finally, you can beat someone at Chess."
It all sounded wonderful. It was wonderful. And then James came home and Harry immediately changed his mind. Had he spent any more time in the fireplace of Sleepy Cottage asking what to do when the baby wouldn't sleep, Lupin told him he would send out change-of-address cards.