Harry glanced around at his small apartment in central London and offered a wistful sigh.
Today marked the start of the first year where he wouldn’t be in constant fear of Voldemort. A life lay ahead of him pregnant with possibility, open to him and his war hero status.
In a few short weeks he would begin his Auror training with Ron and the chance to change and evolve the Ministry into something good. It would be something that brought everyone together instead of creating division.
He should be excited, shouldn’t he? So then why wasn’t he? It was this thought that finally dragged his lean body out of bed as he yawned, stretching a bit until a satisfying popping sound emitted from his back.
He looked out the window of his room, seeing an owl gently tapping at the window. Harry went to it, smiling as he opened the sill.
His friends never forgot about him, no matter what. The owl looked exhausted fluttered over to Harry’s bed dropping several large parcels.
“You’ve been busy,” Harry said to the barn owl, nuzzling its feathers a moment before placing giving her some feed. The creature made a soft sound in response, watching Harry a moment before falling into a light sleep. Harry smiled and went back to the parcels, opening the first card.
Hullo Harry, Romania’s so fun, you wouldn’t believe it! Mum’s keeping an extra close eye on Dad during these trips, she’s sure he’s going to get stitches again! I wanted to telly-phone you this week, but Dad says I’ll be back soon enough and I’m also rubbish at using it. I can’t wait to start training next month, it’s going to be mental! I hope you like your presents, they’re from all of us!
Harry tore open the present to reveal a large box, inside it was a mountain of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes . Harry laughed at the miscellaneous items, picking them up and looking at the random gags. There were sneezing saucers, Blotto blips and so much more, it was almost overwhelming. He felt a small pang at his side as he looked at them, his mind drawing back to Fred for a moment. He wondered how George was doing managing the shop without him.
He glanced at a few of the other parcels. Hermione had sent him a book on famous Quidditch captains, which he eagerly set aside to read later on. He snatched up the long piece of parchment with her familiar looping scrawl.
I hope your summer has been well! So strange to think that I’ll be returning to Hogwarts without you this term. I know you think it’s silly wanting to finish my N.E.W.T.’s and all, but I really have my sights set on a very specific Ministry position. They only accept you if you have the right grades (Even if you were part of the team that took down Voldemort). Besides, you know me, I can’t NOT finish something. But it won’t be the same and I admit to feeling a bit of trepidation going back alone without my best friends.
I hope you’re having such a wonderful birthday. I know you said you’re busy these days, but I hope you come to visit me at least once before you go off and start your training! I miss you terribly and I know that its my fault for going to Australia right after, but you know why I had to. Mum and Dad are doing so much better and we’ve just finally moved back home! It’s so nice to be at home amongst all my books and neighbors and everything just feels so safe. I can’t remember the last time I actually felt safe in the past few years, can you?
I hope Ron is having a wonderful time in Romania! I miss him terribly as well. Maybe you can convince him to join you when you visit? I’m afraid I’ve been a pretty terrible girlfriend so far! So far we’ve murdered a monster together but not actually gone on a proper date! I know, I know this is likely very boring so I’ll ask you about a topic you are sure to enjoy: how is your beloved Ginny? I suppose she’s rather downhearted to be in Romania, so far away from her Romeo! (I couldn’t resist)
I hope you enjoy your book, I know that reading on your time off isn’t your favorite pastime but I do think you’ll enjoy this one!
Harry smiled at his friend’s missive, knowing that Ginny was indeed missing him terribly as Hermione had alluded to. The many letters they’d sent back and forth to one another had been a very large indication of that.
All of a sudden there was a small peck from outside his window and another owl with a squished face was pressing itself up against Harry’s windowpane. Harry smile, recognizing Ginny’s script on the package from where he stood.
“Goodness I am popular today,” he said to himself opening the window.
Moments later he opened the package and smiled fondly. Inside was a small yellow cake with red icing. Gryffindor colors from his favorite girl.
To the boy who lived. Happy 18th Birthday. May all your wishes come true!
Harry nodded to the cake as if conversing with it. It was true he was free now. Free from Voldemort, free from his continual need to be on guard. Free to pursue a normal wizarding life with his friends and girlfriend as a war hero. This should've cheered him up but it didn't. Instead his mind drew back to those final moments, watching as Voldemort’s red eyes glowed furiously.
There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me now, Riddle. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good. "
“You have survived this long crouching behind greater men and women ,” Voldemort sneered with a coughing laugh. “You are alive because they died!”
Harry closed his eyes against the onslaught of tears that were beginning at the corner of his eyes. It was true. In the pursuit of defeating Voldemort they had lost so many. Sirius, Dumbledore, Moody, Fred, Lupin, Tonks, even Snape.
Harry’s eyes closed as he recalled the man’s last moments. Insisting that Harry take his memories. Harry shuddered as he recalled watching the light of the man’s dark eyes going out. It was so strange when viewing his memories in the pensive to see Snape young. Seeing him with his parents and knowing of Snape’s enduring love for his mother. Harry felt a tightness in his chest.
He wanted things to go back to as they were. He didn’t mind going back to a school where Malfoy teased him or Snape hated him. He would welcome the man’s blind hatred with open arms. He would be fine with a school where he was in danger at every moment if it meant the people who mattered so much were alive.
He absently smoothed his hair out of his eyes. He knew that going back to Hogwarts would prove too much; that’s why his Auror training would be starting so soon. He couldn’t face a year of classrooms and Headmasters that were no longer there. It was a cruelty he couldn’t fathom.
Was that the cause of this suffocating darkness? Is this what caused the empty feeling within him some nights? It had all started when he'd gone to the Weasley's for a few weeks after the war. Molly had insisted on it. She didn't want him alone and he was grateful to be surrounded by them all in their loud, busy home. During his stay he had idly wondered if his presence was to combat the loss of Fred.
He would have stayed longer if it weren't for their family venture to Romania, and even though they'd offered Harry to come he’d declined politely, knowing full well he wasn't a Weasley.
That was it, wasn’t it? He had no family. They were all gone. Forever.
Family. He walked casually over to the album Hagrid had given him his first year, the one collection of his parent's that he had. He opened its first page, glancing at the waving figures of his parents as they held an infant Harry between them. Harry felt the tears well up in the back of his eyes but quickly dismissed them with a flick of the page.
There was another of his parents, looking at each other with looks of admiration whilst in a soft embrace. Harry often looked to this one over the years, knowing full well that the image before him was one of total undeniable love. He supposed that's why Cho had never really done it for him because he could never imagine loving her as much as his father had loved his mother.
But Ginny had been different. Harry smiled at the thought of his sweet girlfriend with her kind eyes and her soft mouth. Their weeks at the burrow had been spectacularly intimate; stolen kisses, broom rides, the feel of Ginny’s body against his.
He drew his attention back to the photo book and time slipped past quickly. Harry went through each and every image before him, smiling and laughing when he came across those including a mischievous looking James and Sirius. They must have been worse than Fred and George, (No wait, was that possible?) and Harry found himself longing to be included in their mischief.
There was one he didn't care to look at all that often, and strangely enough it was one quite comical. It was one of James, Sirius and Lupin all making odd faces into the camera. Judging by James head boy badge, it had been their seventh year. It wasn't Sirius' death that made him skip over the picture though, nor was it his father's. Harry almost felt like he was looking at his own doppelganger when he gazed in that picture. But that's not what deterred him.
What did turn Harry off from the picture was faintly in the bright background stood a lone figure stood with arms crossed sneering at the trio with disdain. It didn't take him long to note that it was a teenage Severus glaring at his father with such hate. Whenever Harry came across that certain picture, he was sure to pass over it quite quickly.
Despite what he knew about Snape he couldn’t help but be uncomfortable at the sight of such open disdain for his father. He closed the book quickly, his emotions still unsettled around his former Potions Professor. Yes, the man had done a lot of good. But at the same time he'd also done a lot of bad.
"Well then," he said to himself, breaking from those thoughts. "What to do first?"
Cleaning, making dinner or organizing things for his Auror classes next month. All of these options seemed a little dull to him at this current moment. He went for a swipe at his cake's delicious icing, looking with longing to the slightly sloppy message one last time.
May all your wishes come true
Harry scoffed openly at this, shaking his dark head in response. I only have one wish Ginny. I want my parent's back. I want the people who sacrificed themselves for me to be alive again.
The icing hadn't even made it halfway way to his mouth when he stopped. A powerful realization came to him. It was like a shock from a thunderbolt, much like the one he wore on his head. He knew what he wanted to do, he knew what had been ailing him, he knew how to set things right.
He would fix everything.