Disclaimer: Must we go into this. I think these guys are insanely pleased that I don't own the series.
A/N: Requiem fic-verse but you don't have to have read it. I wrote this last July so this is part of my two-updates-a-day habit and also a study in how my writing has changed. One novel and sitcom later, I don't see a lot of difference which is hugely alarming.
Sunday June 20th 1999
In reflection, Harry didn't know why he was so scared. No; scared wasn't the word. Petrified might do it, he thought, as he stood frozen on the doorstep of the picturesque coastal cottage with his finger mere millimetres from the doorbell that had been charmed to chime along to Hits of the Weird Sisters. He couldn't say he was surprised. Nymphadora Lupin could be very persuasive and since his brush with death, Lupin had discovered a whole new reckless side to his nature - a side he was beginning to regret sharing with his wife who had taken his "Do what you like" to heart and applied it to every decision they perhaps ought to have made as a couple.
He frowned and tried to steel himself. He wasn't entirely sure that he ought to be nervous in the first place. After all, he had faced Voldemort, he had eaten Kreacher's stew and he had even been killed last summer. What was so truly terrifying about this morning?
Harry found himself waiting for so long that he was beginning to think the birds would perch on his outstretched finger. They probably would have done had the sounds of Teddy's laughter and Tonks' shushes and giggles not filled the hallway. The door opened.
"I was just about to er…to ring the bell."
Tonks grinned. "Talk about timing. Come on in. Teddy has a gift for you." She ushered him into the kitchen and flicked the switch on the kettle. "Tea, yeah? Or coffee?"
Harry nodded, accepting whichever came first and allowing himself to be pushed into a seat and watching Teddy change his eye colour every few seconds when he got bored. They settled on emerald green and he beamed at Harry.
"You're up early," said Tonks, handing him a steaming mug and only tripping once on the way back to the AGA. "Do you want some breakfast?"
Truth be told, no. Kreacher had done him proud with various omelettes since they had begun their working relationship but smelling bacon frying, he accepted and assured himself that this Ron-like approach to food would soon leave him. "Where's Remus?" He propped the items in his hands on his lap and hoped Teddy would not betray him.
"We promised him breakfast, didn't we, Ted?"
Teddy evidently was not listening, too busy peering under the table at the objects on Harry's knee. Harry bit his lip and pleaded with his eyes. Teddy frowned but made no further attempts to peek at the sheets of bright paper.
"So I'm trying to prove I can deliver breakfast in bed without coating the walls in it," she giggled. "Last time…Merlin, it was the day after our wedding, and I honestly don't know what happened. One minute, all was well. The next, he was covered in it." She gasped and reached into a cabinet, pulling out an envelope and neatly wrapped parcel that suggested Remus' influence.
Harry opened a card that contained further evidence of that which amazed him - the similarity in the Lupins' handwriting. Both wrote in a tiny scrawl - Tonks' slightly larger with more dramatic loops. Harry read the message that thanked him profusely and wished him a happy god-father's day. He grinned. They always included him in family events as though he was one of them.
He opened his present and found a pair of socks with snitches that zoomed around the ankles, a packet of chocolate frogs and a large mug that read "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man". Harry laughed. "The Godfather."
Tonks beamed at him. "We thought it was cool."
"So do I." He reached down and scooped Teddy up in his arms. "Thanks, Teddy-bear."
The kitchen door creaked on its hinges just as Tonks was plating up and through the ensuing smash of the plate, Harry failed to hear the yawn and soft padding of feet on the stone floor until Teddy hopped off his knees and with a cry of "Daddy!" was lifted into the air and spun round, producing giggles from the child and a rolling of his mother's eyes.
"I thought," said Lupin, "that it was safer to just come downstairs." He balanced Teddy on one hip, wished Harry a good morning, kissed his wife's cheek and repaired the smashed plate. "Evidently, I was wrong. Sorry."
Tonks sighed and frowned, eyeing her husband appraisingly. "Do you think maybe you'd better go and get dressed?"
"Why? It's only Harry."
Perhaps someone else might have taken this as a slight but Harry's grin threatened to cause his cheeks genuine injury.
"That t-shirt has got a hole in it and your pyjama bottoms are far too long."
Lupin rolled his eyes. "I was better off with my mother," he muttered to Harry who smiled conspiratorially.
"What was that, Remus?"
"Nothing, darling. Nothing."
Lupin glanced down at his beaming son and looked to his wife who provided the messily wrapped gift and ink stained envelope which were both opened meticulously so as not to rip the paper.
He laughed, opening Dolores Umbridge: Closet Vampire, Harry Potter's Unofficial Guide to Staying Alive and Names, Places and Legends in The Lord of the Rings. "These are brilliant."
Tonks nodded. "We got Closet Vampire signed for you. Apparently it's the funniest thing out there."
Teddy smiled at his father's obvious pleasure - he couldn't help it, he always did; just as he always laughed when he didn't even understand the joke. At least, his parents hoped he didn't. His hair was ruffled and he morphed his eyes to the same shade of darkest brown as his father's. Harry bit his lip and wished he could stop desiring the experience of this as a child.
"Thank you." Lupin picked up his son and kissed his forehead. The child shook his head and screwed up his eyes. His hair morphed from its usual colour of new pennies to sandy brown and streaked with grey. Lupin raised his eyebrows. "Cheeky."
Harry accepted a second mug of tea and immediately smashed it. He leapt to his feet and began to pick up the pieces, too flustered to remember the appropriate cleaning and repairing spells.
Lupin merely flicked his wand in his direction and Harry found the repaired mug in his hands. The tea, though returned to it, was decidedly unappetising.
"Thanks," he said weakly. "Sorry, I-"
Lupin smiled at him. "I'm used to it. I believe that would be the only spell I have performed since my son tripped into my life."
Tonks was understanding, amicable enough and laughing about how they must have swapped bodies, but Lupin kept frowning at him and shrewdly appraising him until he must have settled on a judgement as he added four lumps of sugar and focused his attention on his son. Harry breathed a sigh of relief and resolved not to touch anything.
And eventually the moment he had been both dreading and awaiting arrived upon him as Tonks scooped up her protesting son and announced they were going to dress. It was now just he and Lupin and Harry took a deep breath. He opened his mouth to speak but Lupin spoke for him.
"You're going to visit your Dad, aren't you?"
Harry laughed bitterly. "You frighten me. You really do. I've already been." He grasped hold of the envelope and small package. "Listen, I've been meaning to speak to you anyway. I mean, what I said last year…"
Lupin rolled his eyes. "Can we not talk about that?"
"I never apologised properly."
Lupin sighed and with a flick of his wand, the mugs flew across the room and landed lightly in the sink. "You didn't have to."
"No I did. I still do." He appeared to take a great deal of interest in the floor as he said, "I think I over stepped the mark." Lupin said nothing but took the seat opposite Harry and listened intently. "You've proved you're not a coward and I knew you weren't and…" he trailed off. "I'm sorry. Look, I think that I said worse. I don't believe you're trying to replace Sirius."
Lupin's eyebrows disappeared beneath his fringe. They almost became part of his scalp as his eyes widened.
"I don't believe anyone could, but you've always been there for me when I needed someone to take me seriously and just…you know, help me. So I just wanted to say thank you and that um…" Harry mumbled and trailed off quickly.
"I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't catch that last bit." His tone was not smug or even the slightest bit self-satisfied. "If you want to tell me, you can, but don't think I don't know you were just angry. I did things I'm not proud of and I never really apologised either."
Harry slid the envelope across to him. "You've always been the closest thing to a father I had so…so um…well, happy Father's Day." For a moment he thought Lupin was speechless, but he accepted the card and the offered gift.
"Thank you," he said weakly. "I um….Thanks."
Harry nodded. "S'all right," he mumbled.
The awkward silence was broken by Lupin who once again seemed to be reading Harry's mind. "It's okay, you know. You're not betraying his memory. Do you mind if I open it or would you be mortally embarrassed?"
Harry grinned and shook his head. "Course not."
Lupin laughed. "Oh I always am. I keep thinking maybe I should have put the receipt in with the gift so they can take it back without telling me how much they hate it."
Harry was incredulous. "But your presents are always brilliant."
"Well, thank you." Lupin was glad he spoke before he looked down as, had he been faced with his gift beforehand, he may never have said it. He feared he was now mute.
"I thought it was a step up from a camera," said Harry. "If you don't like it, I can take it back."
Lupin shook his head, still unable to form a sentence. "Perfect," he murmured.
Harry couldn't imagine just what Lupin would do to a seemingly ordinary Muggle video camera but he thought that the amount of charms that would be put upon it would rival Arthur Weasley's flying car.
"It's wonderful, Harry. Thanks ever so much." And Harry found himself wrapped up in long arms and a God Save the Queen t-shirt that he was convinced was actually bought with the album in the seventies. He released Harry and winked. "Though I think I might have preferred your unofficial biography."
Harry blushed. "Oh shut up. Don't even talk about that." The corners of his mouth turned up slightly as Lupin laughed. "It's getting ridiculous. I'd try and prosecute but that would only mean a Harry Potter guide to choosing your lawyer."
Lupin smiled softly. "Or a Harry Potter Guide to Harry Potter Guides. That I would actually go out and buy." He laughed. "If you don't make it as an Auror, you can become the only official writer. How's training going?"
Harry grinned. "Really well." It seemed to be the only thing that was. "And everyone's really good about the whole Chosen One thing. No-one cares. Neville's a bit…odd these days but I don't think that has anything to do with me."
Lupin shook his head. "It's the Lestrange trial. Rodolphus is up next weekend. After that, I think Neville might calm down a bit. I don't think Auror Longbottom is who he really wants to be."
Harry nodded. "I hadn't thought of that." He had the feeling Lupin knew more about Neville than he was letting on but he didn't press the subject. "What are you doing today?"
"We're going for a walk." Lupin smiled grimly. "We're going down to the beach for a walk. I know what'll happen. It happens every time we leave the house. We'll forget something or other about three times and Teddy will get bored and start screaming and we have to shush him before we can go and then by the time we actually leave the house, it'll be time to come back again." He sighed. "Oh the joys of fatherhood." He smiled somewhat sadistically. "Of course, you've got all this to come."
Almost as soon as she opened the door, Tonks yawned. "Remus, get upstairs and take that damn t-shirt off." She sat with Teddy on her lap, beside Harry. "I don't know what it is. He won't sleep. He's over a year old now. I think it's because we always have to get up when he cries and he knows he can wake me if he does it. Merlin, he could wake the dead." She tapped her son's nose. "He's so naughty."
From the other side of the room Lupin grinned wickedly. "It's our anniversary next Monday. We were wondering if you'd do a spot of babysitting?"
Harry paled as he met Teddy's eyes. Perhaps it was just paranoia, but was that child smirking at him?