Disclaimer: Harry Potter is sadly not mine
"You'll be fine Remus," Lily said reassuringly as she swung her cloak around her shoulders. "We wouldn't trust you with our son if we didn't think so."
"Yeah, don't worry Moony," James added, coming down the stairs, his invisibility cloak draped over one arm. "Harry loves you, you'll be great."
Remus was only reassured a little bit. Harry was the only baby he had ever been around and Lily and James were always right there the moment Harry started crying. He was usually the responsible, prepared one, but right now Remus had no idea what he was going to do.
"You know where all the diapers and bottles are, you know Harry's favorite toys and where his teething rings are, you've seen us do everything a thousand times and I've shown you again just now, there's nothing to worry about Remus," Lily said soothingly.
"I just checked on him, he should be down for at least another hour or so," James said. "We better get going Lils, Dumbledore wouldn't like it if we were late."
Lily nodded and gave Remus one more encouraging smile. "You can always send us a patronus if you need to," she added.
Remus nodded. James clapped him on the back. "Buck up Moony. Remember, he's only an eleven-month old kid. Much less frightening than Knott or McNair, and you kicked their arses good last time."
Remus smiled feebly as he watched his two friends slip out the front door and disapperate a few steps beyond it. He closed and locked the door behind them and then turned to face the quiet little cottage. He supposed he ought to be doing something productive while Harry slept, but Lily had left the place spotless and there was five hours before dinner, so he flopped down on the couch and pulled out a book.
He hardly opened to the first page when Harry started crying upstairs. With a nervous sigh, Remus got up and headed for the nursery. Harry was wailing at the top of his little lungs, his eyes squeezed shut and his face screwed up. Remus could see two tiny pearly white teeth poking through his pink gums.
"Hey, kiddo," Remus murmured, lifting the screaming baby out of his crib and rocking him a little. Harry's cries tapered into little whimpers as he opened his eyes to see who was holding him. When he saw it wasn't his mother or his father he began to wail again.
"It's alright, Harry, it's Moony, you remember me? I'm over here practically as much as your mummy and daddy are. They had to go do something for Dumbledore that's very important, so I'm gonna hang out with you for a while. Is that okay?"
Harry quieted a little at his soothing voice and Remus was momentarily reassured. "Your daddy said you were going to sleep for another hour, but I guess you've got other plans, huh?"
Harry gurgled in response.
"Alright, well… um, are you hungry? I know how to make a bottle, well heat one up anyways."
Harry stared up at him, fingers in his mouth. Remus took that for an "I guess so" and carried Harry down stairs to the kitchen.
Remus sat Harry in his highchair and pulled a bottle out of the cupboard (there was a cooling spell on it). He pointed his wand at the bottle and a moment later it was warm in his hand. He awkwardly shook a drop onto his wrist like Lily had showed him, but he couldn't tell if it was too hot or not. It didn't seem like it was, so he turned to Harry.
Harry had not taken his eyes off Remus while he warmed up the bottle. He was being unusually quiet. Ordinarily Harry would be pounding his little fists on the tray and squawking unintelligibly as he tried to master the use of his voice. Remus thought he must be nervous about his mummy and daddy leaving him alone with the likes of Moony for a babysitter.
He picked Harry up, positioned him just the way Lily had shown him and tried to give him the bottle, but Harry pushed it away with his little hands, turning his head to the side and making little moaning noises.
"Okay, not hungry," Remus sighed. He replaced the bottle in the cold cupboard and looked back down at Harry. Now what? "You bored?" he asked as Harry was staring off into space, chewing on his fingers again. "Let's go get some of your toys. You like that snitch your dad got for you, don't you?"
Lupin carried Harry into the living room and sat him down on the floor. He opened the toy box in the corner and began pulling things out. A stuffed golden snitch that fluttered a few inches off the floor, a stuffed blue cat, a brightly colored loopy thing that rattled and lit up, some blocks.
Harry grabbed the snitch and shook it a bit, then started sucking on it. He didn't seem interested in the other toys. Remus frowned. This wasn't like Harry. Usually the kid was into everything. He hardly ever sat still or stayed quiet for any period of time.
"Chsh!" the little snitch tumbled out of Harry's hands as the little boy sneezed.
"Bless you, Harry," Remus smiled, picking up the fluffy, droolly snitch and offering it back to Harry. Harry didn't take it. He was rubbing at his eyes and nose with a tiny fist. "Chsh!"
"My goodness, bless you again," Remus said, now frowning a little. He pulled Harry onto his lap as Harry gave a couple of little coopy coughs. "Not feeling so great?" Remus asked, looking down at him worriedly. Harry looked up at him, and Remus noticed that his cheeks seemed flushed and his eye a little glassy. He put a hand on Harry's forehead, but to his relief it didn't seem that warm to him.
"Chsh!" Harry sneezed again and this time he started whimpering. The little boy leaned against Remus's chest and buried his snotty, droolly face in his shirt.
Remus had no idea what to do with a sick baby. This wasn't something Lily had covered in her instructions. He thought about sending her and James a patronus. They'd be back in a second and they'd know what to do. But then he remembered the importance of their mission. They'd be home in a few hours anyway; he could handle things until then, right? He hoped so. If he had to he could call Alice, she had a baby, she must know how to handle things like this.
Remus carried Harry back into the kitchen and wiped his face clean with a warm cloth. Then, since Harry seemed so tired, he took him upstairs and rocked him until he fell back to sleep.
Remus hoped that Harry would sleep for a while this time, because he really had no idea what you were supposed to do with a sick baby. He cleaned up the toys and then pulled a book about house-hold healing off Lily's bookshelf, hoping he'd find the answers in there.
It was a few hours later that Harry started whimpering again. Remus threw the book aside and hurried up the stairs. All he'd learned was you weren't supposed to give babies or small children pepper-up potion because it would cause them to have a weak immune system and that only a very watered down cough potion was safe for something like a cold.
Harry threw his little arms up for Remus the moment he saw him and Remus scooped him up and rocked him a little. Harry started coughing again and this time they sounded worse. Remus frowned. Two more hours and Lily and James would be home.
"Chsh!" Harry sneezed for the fifth time in as many minutes. Remus didn't even care that it was right into his shoulder. He was rummaging through the cupboards, trying to find something he could give Harry to make him feel better. But he couldn't find anything. He closed the cupboard with a sigh and looked down at the baby in his arms.
"I'm sorry, Harry, I can't find anything to make you better. Guess we'll just have to tough it out, huh?" Harry rubbed at his nose and sniffled. Then he sneezed again. "Chsh!" He looked up at Remus with huge miserable green eyes and Remus felt his heart break a little because he couldn't make it better. "You know what always used to make me feel better? Getting my mind off it. Why don't we go look for a story and I'll read it to you, what'd you say?"
Harry made a squeaky sort of noise that Remus decided was a yes. He carried the little boy into the living room and knelt down beside the shelf designated to Harry's books. Harry didn't seem interested in picking one out; he just nestled into Remus's chest and yawned. So Remus grabbed the brightly illustrated copy of The Tales of Beadle the Bard he himself had given Harry for Christmas and settled on the couch with Harry in his lap.
"How about 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune'? That's a good one. It's got fair maidens and brave nights, and … er, a fountain in it. You'll like it." He opened the book and began to read aloud with Harry curled against his chest. Every now and then Harry would stretch out his little hand and grab onto the page, gurgling and squealing over some brightly-colored moving drawing, or else simply because he liked to make Remus pause in his reading and pry the page free of Harry's vice-like grip.
About half-way through the story, the little boy settled down and rested his head on Remus's chest, coughing every now and then. Remus was worried by the way the coughs shook his tiny body. When he finished the story, he looked down at the baby curled up on his lap, sniffling and rubbing at his nose and eyes. Suddenly his head bucked forward and Remus heard a volley of very congested little sneezes. "Chsh!… Chsh!... Chsh!"
"Bless you, Harry!" Remus exclaimed, but the little boy had already started coughing, his little frame shaking with the effort. Remus pulled him into a better position and started rubbing his back soothingly. Harry began to cry in misery, wiggling around in Remus's arms and burying his face in his shoulder.
"It's okay, Harry. You're mummy and daddy will be home soon and they'll take good care of you," Remus mumbled, standing up and beginning to pace the room. Harry quieted some to the motion, sticking a fist in his mouth and whimpering.
Remus kept talking, as he paced around the room, hardly aware of what he was saying, but keeping his voice calm and soothing. As he passed the side table on one of his rounds, he plucked a tissue from the box and wiped Harry's face clean as best he could one-handed. He kept on walking round and round and talking and even singing a little when he ran out of things to say, and gradually Harry's whimpers quieted and nestled into Remus's shoulder. The moment Remus fell quiet or sat down, Harry would begin squawking again and squawking made him cough, which made him sneeze, which made him squawk more, so Remus picked one circle over another and kept walking and talking.
This was how they found them when Lily and James slipped through the front door an hour later.
"Finally! You're home, thank Merlin!" Remus said as Lily carefully took her drowsing baby from him.
"Was he that much trouble?" Lily asked, looking down at her son, who had begun to stir and whine.
"He's sick," Remus said softly and as though on cue Harry scrunched up his tiny features and –
"Heh…heh Chsh! Chsh! Heh-Chsh!" and then he started coughing.
"I read your healing book, but I couldn't find anything in the cupboard for him," Remus said apologetically as Lily felt her son's forehead worriedly and James pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his face. "And he wouldn't eat anything, but he did sleep for a few hours earlier…" he trailed off looking anxious. "I'm sorry! I should have sent for you, but with what Dumbledore said –"
"You did wonderful, Remus," Lily cut across him. "I'm glad it was you here with him. As much as I love them, Padfoot and Wormy would have panicked, but you handled things just fine."
She smiled at him as she carried Harry up the stairs to put him in pajamas. Remus looked at James, who was grinning at him for some reason.
"I had no idea what I was doing," Remus told him, sinking back onto the couch wearily.
James sat down beside him and clapped him on the shoulder. "Welcome to parenthood, Moony, my friend," he said with a wide grin. "You never know what you're doing. You just do whatever you can think of. How d'you think me and Lily figured it all out?"
"Thought you might be hiding a baby manual somewhere around here," Remus said and James laughed.
"Nope. Kids don't come with instructions. But you were doing pretty good I'd say. You nearly had him asleep, and let me tell you, putting a sick baby to sleep is not easy." He paused for a moment, looking at his friend. "You're gonna make a good father one day, Remus."
Remus blushed and mumbled something indistinct before saying, "Yeah, well, I need to find a wife before then. And besides, I can't have kids. I've got that 'furry little problem', remember?" He added the last part slightly bitterly and James slung an arm around his shoulders.
"So? You're a catch, Moony! You're gonna find a great girl someday and you're gonna make a great father, I can feel it. A guy like you's gotta pass it on to the next generation. One day you're gonna be the best dad around, mark my words."
Nearly seventeen years later found Remus Lupin pacing endlessly around another living room with another baby on his shoulder. Thank Merlin this one wasn't sick, only stubbornly refusing to sleep. The first time he'd done this came to him as if it had been yesterday and he couldn't believe that the tiny, black-haired baby was now the godfather to the little bundle in his arms. With a bitter-sweet pang he heard his old friend's words again. "You're gonna be the best dad around, mark my words."
Well, he didn't know about the best, but just the dad part was more than he had ever dared to hope for before. Looks like James was right after all. He could practically hear his friend rubbing it in his face.
"You're good at that," a soft voice whispered from the doorway and Remus turned to see his wife leaning against the wall, looking tired and worn as any new parent, but smiling at the image of her son and husband.
"Someone told me I would be," he whispered back.
A/N: well, the end took a turn I wasn't expecting, but I like it all the same! I hope you did too! Please tell me! I really REALLY love reviews!