There is much debate in the Harry Potter fandom over who best represents the father or parental figure for Harry, with overall leanings towards Sirius Black. However, although Sirius and Harry clearly cared for each other, there is a much better and criminally overlooked (even by Harry) alternative.

The Candidates

Sirius Black

To start, let’s talk about why most people consider Sirius to be a shoo-in. Firstly, Sirius is Harry’s godfather. Throughout the series, with no one else able to take over the mantle of parental guardian, Harry returns every summer to the Dursley’s as they were his only living relatives! it later turns out that being blood-related is very important . This, however, becomes briefly untrue in book three, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999).

After Harry learns of Sirius’ innocence, Sirius casually lets Harry know that he can live with him if he so chooses. Harry, of course, relishes this possibility – which is kind of weird since he just met this man and thought he was a mass murder and loyal Voldemort supporter up until about 20 minutes ago.

For maybe half an hour, a glorious half hour, he had believed he would be living with Sirius from now on . . . his parents’ best friend. … It would have been the next best thing to having his own father back.

–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

And it is the above quote that is so important; that Harry himself uses Sirius as a fatherly replacement, even if wrongly so. But Sirius isn’t Harry’s father; he’s an escaped convict (innocence notwithstanding) on the run from the law, who spent the last 13 years locked away in the vilest and most taxing place in the wizarding world.

Fugitivity aside, Sirius did care deeply about Harry and was apparently legally able! Well, at least Dumbledore and McGonagall accepted him to speak as Harry’s guardian, as he was able to do what even the Minister of Magic was unable to do: sign Harry’s Hogsmeade permission slip.

No. No, I’m very sorry, Harry, but as I’m not your parent or guardian… No, I’m sorry, Harry, but rules are rules

–Cornelius Fudge to Harry Potter when asked to sign Harry’s permission form

What’s most interesting about Sirius is that he started off truly caring about Harry and his wellbeing, but slowly slipped into using Harry as a replacement for his old and lost best friend James, just as Harry uses him in a similar fashion. Upon first hearing of the attack on Godric’s Hollow! the place Harry’s parents lived, Sirius wasted no time in rushing over, even running into Hagrid. After confirming that two of his closest friends were murdered, Sirius asks Hagrid to place Harry into his care, as he is Harry’s godfather. Hagrid refuses because Dumbledore ordered Harry be delivered to the Dursleys, so Sirius lends Hagrid is prized motorcycle for the journey to Privet Drive.

However, this initial parental behavior erodes during both Sirius’ stay in Azkaban prison, and later during his confinement at his old family home at Grimwald Place.

He’s not James, Sirius!

–Molly Weasley to Sirius Black about Harry, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

During that fateful night at the Ministry of Magic, whilst dueling Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius’s very last words were “Nice one, James!“, speaking to Harry! This occurs in the movie version only, but I think that it does a great job of punctuating the book’s subplot . Immediately after, Bellatrix lands the killing blow, and Sirius falls backward into the veil, never to be seen again. I personally believe that the guilt of convincing the Potters to change the secret keeper to Pettigrew built up over the years, leading Sirius to look for a way to replace James to ease his conscience.

Despite all of this, Harry still held Sirius in the highest of esteem and was devastated by his loss. Harry eventually names his firstborn James Sirius Potter after his father and Sirius.

Remus Lupin

Lupin was always one of my favourite Harry Potter characters, and I always thought that he was by far the better father figure for Harry than others usually mentioned. First appearing in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban along with Sirius Black, Lupin’s character was sadly mostly shoved aside in later books. Even so, his initial appearance had a lasting effect on both Harry and the reader, and subsequent appearances did nothing but solidify his enormously caring and fatherly character.

We first meet Lupin on the Hogwarts Express, where he fends off a dementor, then immediately fusses over Harry, force feeding him chocolate! a common and effective remedy to recover from dementor encounters. He then continues throughout the year to be the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Harry has ever had, even giving Harry private lessons in producing a Patronus.

As their relationship grows deeper, Harry learns that like Sirius, Remus was one of his father’s best friends, and Remus becomes one of the only adults that Harry feels safe confiding in. Harry talks to Lupin about how the dementors affect him, how he hears his mother’s voice screaming and begging to spare his life, and about his embarrassment that the dementors seem to affect him more than the others. Lupin responds by listening and providing sound advice, just as a good father would have done.

What he really wanted (and it felt almost shameful to admit it to himself) was someone like — someone like a parent: an adult wizard whose advice he could ask without feeling stupid, someone who cared about him…

–Harry potter and the goblet of fire

Harry deeply wants and needs an adult in his life that he can talk to, but for some reason, as soon as Sirius enters his life, he never thinks of Lupin as being this adult. Unlike Sirius, Lupin was never on the run! although largely shunned by the magical community for being a werewolf, and regarding the above passage, would have been the most knowledgeable on the subject of Harry’s scar hurting.

Even though never allowed to reach his full potential as the father figure Harry desperately needed, Lupin was still always quick with invaluable advice and was a constant and stable voice to balance out Sirius’ brash personality.

Remus Lupin later names Harry godfather to his son, Edward “Teddy” Lupin, showing just how much he cared for and respected his old friend’s son, former student, the boy who lived, and the man he becomes! First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.

Arthur and Molly Weasley

Arthur, and especially Molly Weasley quickly becomes the closest semblance to a real family that Harry has ever had, welcoming him into the fold as one of their own. Harry remarks on multiple occasions how much he enjoys staying at the Weasley’s, being fussed about and receiving home cooked meals. The Weasley’s give Harry something that neither Sirius or Lupin could ever give him; a working family unit.

Mrs Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother.

–Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

A confused and lost Harry first meets Mrs. Weasley on Platform 9¾, where he asks her how to actually get onto the platform. Without missing a beat, Molly helps the clearly alone and slightly embarrassed young Harry, giving him instructions and allowing Harry to go before her own son Ron. Upon being informed by the twins, Fred and George, who that strange young boy was, Molly immediately forbids the twins from pestering Harry with questions. In her first moments, she helps, and then protects Harry, much like a mother would.

Every single year at Hogwarts, Mrs. Weasley hand knits! well, maybe she uses magic too Harry a Christmas sweater, simply because Ron told her that Harry never got anything from the Dursley’s. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), after the Weasley children break Harry out of the Dursley’s on a stolen Ford Anglia, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley do not hesitate to take in Harry, providing him with a safe place to stay and a full stomach.

In the next year, it is Mr. Weasley who thinks that Harry needs to know about escaped mass murderer Sirius Black, even when everyone else wants to keep Harry in the dark.  In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2001), the Weasleys again welcome Harry into their home, with Mr. Weasley even taking Harry to the Quidditch World Cup.

“He’s not your son”, said Sirius quietly.
“He’s as good as!” said Mrs. Weasley fiercely.

Molly Weasley talking about Harry, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Later, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Molly tackles a boggart! much like Pennywise, boggarts have the ability to transform into what you most fear. hidden away at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Like most mothers, Mrs. Weasley’s greatest fear is losing her children, and with the coming war against Voldemort, this fear rises to the surface when facing the boggart. Each time Molly attacks the boggart, it transforms into another one of her family, dead on the floor. At first, Ron, then Bill, then Mr. Weasley, Fred and George, Percy, and then, Harry.

She truly did love Harry like a son, and as far as I’m concerned, Harry officially became an honorary Weasley on his seventeenth birthday! wizards are considered adults at 17. It is traditional for a parent to gift their child a watch when he comes of age, and so, Molly gives Harry her late brothers watch.

Dumbledore

Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore may seem like an unusual inclusion for those who are intimately familiar with the story, but there is reason for his placement here, I swear!

Up until Harry’s sixth year, the two surprisingly don’t have a lot of time together, barring end of year disaster conversations like in Chamber of Secrets and The Goblet of Fire. In fact, Dumbledore spends most of the fifth book actively ignoring Harry. Furthermore, it turns out that our friendly headmaster was actually a cold, calculating, and distant mastermind, focused on the greater good and sacrificing many along the way – including himself.

Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love

Dumbledore to Harry, — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

In spite of Dumbledore’s emotional shortcomings, he was a man that Harry greatly admired, and had complete loyalty towards. Dumbledore even states in Chamber of Secrets, that the phoenix Fawkes only appeared to Harry because he showed such devotion. So, the question is, did Dumbledore ever love Harry, as a father would?

This is a bit of a complicated question to answer because of the gap between how Dumbledore felt, and how he wanted to feel.

I cared about you too much. I cared… more for your peace of mind than my plan, more for your life than the lives that might be lost if the plan failed… I acted exactly as Voldemort expects we fools who love to act.

Dumbledore to Harry, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Dumbledore very much wanted to distance himself from Harry, to not grow emotionally attached so that he could make the hard decisions without interference from his conscience. But watching Harry year after year, he came to love the boy like a son, wanting nothing more than to guide and protect him.

Although Harry does not use the Resurrection Stone to summon his old headmaster, it is Dumbledore who welcomes Harry during his most important visit to Kings Cross station, to guide Harry and comfort him. Harry names his second son Albus Severus Potter, after Dumbledore, which attests to their special bond.

Harry’s True Father

Rubeus Hagrid

Harry truly loved Hagrid and everything he’s ever done for him, and Harry certainly appreciates how much he knows Hagrid cares for him, but still poor Hagrid is always overlooked.

Hagrid is the one who rescues wee baby Harry from the wreckage of Godric’s Hollow and delivers him to the Dursley’s doorstep. Hagrid cared so much about Harry, even at such a young age, that he even cries when he has to give him up to the Dursleys.

“Could I – could I say goodbye to him, sir?” asked Hagrid.
He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss.

–Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

When Harry fails to receive his letter from Hogwarts, it is Hagrid who volunteers to hand deliver it, even bringing Harry his first real birthday present since living with the Dursleys, a homemade birthday cake!

Hagrid is so integral because it is he who represents Harry’s introduction and inclusion to the greater magical community. It is Hagrid who tells Harry that he is a wizard, explains what happened to his parents, who brings Harry to Diagon Ally and Gringotts Wizarding Bank, buys Harry his owl Hedwig, gives Harry his ticket to the Hogwarts Express, and as gamekeeper, is the one who shepherds the first years across the lake for their sorting ceremony. On a very primal level, Hagrid represents Harry’s link to who he really is, his very identity.

During Harry’s first year, Hagrid hand makes him a wooden flute for Christmas, invites Harry and friends over for tea, and spends the year contacting old friends of the Potter’s so he can make a scrapbook for Harry. What’s that trope about daddy never coming to your game? Well, Hagrid showed up to every single one of Harry’s Quidditch matches, cheering him on.

During the “Battle of the Seven Potters”, it is Hagrid who partners with the real Harry, but probably the greatest Hagrid truth was when he thought Harry dead in Deathly Hallows. Forced to carry a presumably lifeless Harry out of the Forbidden Forest, Hagrid cradles Harry in his arms, his grief and sobs punctuating the silence. This is great symmetry because the last time Hagrid held Harry in his arms, he was bringing infant Harry to the Dursleys.

Harry could feel Hagrid’s arms trembling with the force of his heaving sobs, great tears splashed down upon him as Hagrid cradled Harry in his arms, and Harry did not dare, by movement or word, to intimate to Hagrid that all was not, yet, lost.

–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Hagrid may have had his issues (he can’t keep a secret to save his life), but there was no one through the entire series who was more of a father to Harry than him. Yet, Harry never named any of his children Rubeus. Perhaps Harry only wanted to grant the dead that honor, and Hagrid, thankfully, lived through the war to contune to be all that he can to Harry and his new family.

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