If you’d asked Harry where his life would be ten years ago, or even five, chasing a squalling toddler around his office and wondering just how soundproofed his home office walls are, he’d have laughed in your face. Still, the unexpected nature of his life doesn’t mean – well if he could have Remus and Tonks back…
Teddy pauses his caterwauling and grins up at Harry, “Hungry.”
“We just had breakfast,” Harry glances at his watch, “Twenty minutes ago.”
Apparently unimpressed, Teddy shrugs and clacks his toy trucks together on the braided rug, making low rumbling noises likely meant to mimic engines.
“How about I finish up with this,” Harry gestures to his dangling sentence and Teddy frowns, “And you stay quiet,” the frown deepens, “After which, I’ll take us for doughnuts, yeah?”
“Ron’s?” Teddy perks up.
“He’d have me drawn and quartered if I went anywhere else,” Harry drawls, trying – unsuccessfully – to pick up where he left off on his writing.
“What’s – ”
Harry winces, regretting the introduction of medieval execution methods to his inquisitive godson, “Nothing, I’ll tell you another – it doesn’t matter.”
Sighing like a man ten times his five years, Teddy goes back to his toys and Harry finishes working his way through the last of his notes. He’d gone on sabbatical earlier this year when Neville’s wife got pregnant and couldn’t watch Teddy during Harry’s classes anymore, which presented the opportunity to work on long-neglected scholarly research without the pressure of prepping for classes (and then teaching them).
He’s still not quite sure how Remus and Tonks managed as well as they did – two working parents with a choice between a septuagenarian and a sleep deprived doctoral candidate for babysitting – but they’d done it, more than successfully.
So when they’d asked about putting him down as legal guardian should anything happen, it’d seemed a gesture at most. And yet, three years later, they’re long since dead – Andromeda too – except for that spark in Teddy’s eye, the curve of his chin, the slant of his smirk, the lilt of his laughter…
Shaking his head and briskly swiping beneath his eyes, Harry settles down to power through this last bit of his goal for the morning (life with Teddy has taught him the importance of realistic goal setting) and the next three quarters of an hour pass with relative ease.
By the time Teddy’s getting truly, irreparably antsy, Harry is too, if he’s being honest. So they bundle up and set out hand-in-hand, toward Ron’s bakery.
They’d known each other – Harry and Ron – in boarding school and been thick as thieves through graduation, until Ron returned to Devon after an unexpected death in the family and Harry’d been accepted at Cambridge.
He’d felt like a jerk – despite Ron’s assurances to the contrary (comforting, loyal git even when he’s the one grieving) and assertion that he’d not let him throw away his chance just to ‘sit ‘round and watch him mope.’ So with Ron’s loving shove toward continuing academia, Harry let himself get absorbed into the quagmire of higher education.
And then, two years later, Harry meets Hermione in an unbelievably boring history class and she ends up introducing him to her boyfriend who makes great doughnuts at his little hole-in-the-wall shop. Then Ron’s back in his life like they were never apart. Which is great for everything but Harry’s waistline. But a self-imposed restriction on his doughnut intake is a small price to pay for a best mate. Though, since he’s been Teddy’s legal guardian, his self-control has been severely hindered.
He did gain new motivation for avoiding daily trips after a few too many of Teddy’s sugar-induced crazes put a bad taste in his mouth.
Nonetheless, Harry’s a soft touch for puppy dog eyes and sugary snacks so he can only resist so long – thus the impromptu late-morning jaunt to Ron’s.
Teddy darts forward, struggling to push the door open until Harry lends his assistance, which has them entering with a chiming of the overhead bell. In a flash, Teddy’s got his face pressed against the bake case and Harry’s hot on his heels, offering a hasty apology to Ron at the counter, only to realize it’s not Ron. So beautifully not Ron Harry’s heart stutters. And so does he – brilliant. “S-sorry ‘bout – ” he gestures to the now finger and nose printed glass and the gorgeous not-Ron woman at the register smiles kindly and makes her way over to the bake case. “Alright there, little man?”
Reluctant to take his eyes off the bounty before him, Teddy darts his gaze up and back, then up again, lingering as his cheeks flush rosy. He nods wordlessly and Harry really can’t blame him for being speechless. He puts a comforting hand on Teddy’s shoulder, and the latter seems to regain himself, blinking up at the cashier with those wide grey eyes, “I like strawb’ry.”
She – Ginny if her name tag is right – glances at Harry for permission (which he grants with a nod) and slides the case open, pulling a doughnut out with deft fingers. “As a fellow strawberry lover, trust me when I say you must have this one.”
Teddy claps his hands gleefully, remembering to murmur his thanks halfway through his first sugary bite. Harry’s about to order when Ginny leans over and pulls a doughnut from the case. “You look like a cinnamon crème man.”
He’s caught off guard, wondering if knowing doughnut preferences is some kind of magic power, when Ginny smirks and sets a steaming cup of coffee on the counter alongside his pastry. “Ron tipped me off about regulars.”
“I was hoping you’d say favorites,” Harry mimics her smirk.
And he really thinks he’s not imagining the flash in Ginny’s eye as she makes to answer, but before his levels of self-delusion can be assessed, Ron emerges from the back with a wide smile, “Potter and Lupin!” he claps Ginny on the shoulder, “I see you met baby Weasley.”
“Logical next step after chubby Weasley,” Ginny teases, swatting at Ron’s soft middle.
“That hurts, Gin,” Ron grasps at his chest, “Right here.”
Ginny shoves his shoulder, “Don’t worry, Hermione likes your little pooch,” she sends a commiserating glance toward Harry, “Or so I’ve been scarringly told.”
“Shove – ” Ron cuts off and glances toward Teddy who grins, halfway through his snack. Ginny winks and his face reddens.
Eventually, Harry guides Teddy toward a table and they settle into casual conversation – mostly about the latest happenings on Teddy’s average ‘kids turned superheroes’ program when Ginny sets a tall glass of milk on the table, sipping at her own drink and halfway through one of Ron’s fresh-baked, chocolate digestives.
“Mind if I join you boys?” Ginny asks, lingering near the empty chair, “Ron the slave driver took pity and gave me fifteen.”
Her voice pitches up at the end while a smirk quirks her lips. Ron shouts back, “Ungrateful!”
Teddy leans forward, “D’you watch Happy Heroes?”
Ginny slumps down too, freckle-covered hands splayed on the tabletop, “It’s mine and my niece’s favorite .”
Mouth dropping open, Teddy turns to Harry, looking like it’s his birthday and Christmas at the same time. Harry raises his brows and swipes a serviette over Teddy’s sprinkle covered face, “You’ve found a new member for your fan club, Ted,” he winks at Ginny, “Congrats.”
While Teddy gets going on the latest ‘drama’ on his show - some shapeshifter villain is terrorizing local zoo animals - Ginny makes all the right noises. Oohs, aahs, and gasps as necessary and Harry feels like melting a little.
And though her focus is on Teddy, as is Harry’s, he doesn’t miss the way her gaze darts in his direction a half dozen times, like they’re both in on a joke together. When she winks at him, just before giving Teddy her own take on Happy Hero Flavius’ sorbet gun snafu, Harry feels a warmth vibrate through his chest that he hasn’t felt - in a long time.
Long enough that Ginny’s already been called back from her break for the lunch rush and she’s hasn’t got time to do more than wave and smile at them kindly as the bell announces their departure.
Teddy gets a bit tired halfway through the walk home and deigns to allow Harry to carry him, tucked close against his chest. It’s moments like these - feeling the steady thrum of Teddy’s little heart against his chest, the grip of his fingers at his collar, and his steady breaths against his throat - that Harry can’t imagine his life as it was before. However unexpected and heartbreaking the series of events were that led him to this point, he’d not trade it for a normal life.
Which doesn’t mean he’s abandoned his desire for certain normal things. Although before doughnuts today, he’d thought the urge might’ve cooled to an imperceptible trickle.
Until warm brown eyes, laughing lips, freckled cheeks, a sharp chin and a wit to match have his stomach jumping giddily like it hasn’t since - ever. The closest being the infamous winter formal mixer with the neighboring girls school where Harry’d nearly given himself a coronary at the age of thirteen while trying to work up the courage to ask the girl he fancied to dance.
But that was light butterflies and an embarrassed flush to his cheeks. This was - like a sun blooming in his stomach - and about a million other things too flowery and sappy to give voice outside the confines of his head.
Teddy’s mind has wandered in the same vein, apparently, because as he snuffles against Harry’s shoulder he murmurs, “I liked her. Gin.”
Sighing, Harry presses a kiss to Teddy’s brow and slips onto the lift as the doors open on the lobby. “Me too, little man. Me too.”