Categories > Books > Harry Potter

The First Taste of Freedom

by 8th_House 4 reviews

A year or so after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry realizes his life isn’t exactly making him happy.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2012-09-09 - Updated: 2012-09-09 - 3034 words - Complete

TITLE: The First Taste of Freedom

FANDOM: Harry Potter
SERIES: In Pursuit of Happiness 1
CHARACTER: Harry Potter
WARNING: Post Book 7, but Pre Epilogue, AU
DISCLAIMER: Rowling owns Harry Potter and all his friends. I’m not making any money from this.
SUMMARY: A year or so after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry realizes his life isn’t exactly making him happy.

Oddly enough, it was seeing the Dursleys again after so long that really opened his eyes to the truth; he was living a lie and miserable for it.

Oh, he usually had a smile on his face, but it was fake and rarely reached his eyes. He wore nicer clothes that fit, and had new glasses with his proper prescription so that he could see clearly. He walked tall and appeared to be a fine example of a young wizard coming into his own. Yet, he still felt like the little orphan freak in oversized rags that the neighbors liked to gawk at.

After the Battle of Hogwarts, he had spent a year or so working with private tutors. He had recently taken his NEWT’s and was even now waiting for word back from the Ministry on his application to become an apprentice Auror. Most people thought his acceptance was a given, but he worried that it was only due to his fame and that he hadn’t actually earned it with his grades.

He had a beautiful girlfriend that everyone agreed was perfect for him. She was anxiously waiting for him to propose and in truth, the world was his oyster.

And he was miserable.

This was not his life. It was the life of the Boy-Who-Lived-To-Defeat-Voldemort.

Now that he realized this, he was a bit uncertain what to do about it. He supposed he could go back and get some advice from Professor Flitwick. It was his fault, in a way.

It all started earlier in the week when Harry had popped by Hogwarts to show Headmistress McGonagall his NEWT scores. He knew she had been upset by how many students in his year had been unable to take them due to the demands and sacrifices of the war and she had encouraged them all to either retake the year at Hogwarts or hire tutors to complete their education. Harry had just wanted to show her that he’d taken her advice and tell her about his application to become an Auror.

Then, he’d run into Professor Flitwick. The short Head of Ravenclaw House had been delighted to see him again and they had shared a lively chat about the newest brooms on the market. While Harry tended to think of brooms in terms of actually flying them, it was really no surprise that the Charms Professor thought of them in terms of the spells and enchantments cast upon them to make them function. As he’d expounded on the subject with his boundless enthusiasm, Harry had found himself helplessly enthralled and intrigued as Flitwick described the various magics and how they had to work flawlessly together to form a cohesive whole.

There were levitation charms, acceleration charms, steering charms, braking charms, stabilizing charms, comfort charms, and that was just the basics.

It was fascinating, really.

And that’s when it happened. Professor Flitwick mentioned that he had a long time friend who was a Master Enchanter working as a broom wright or more specifically, working on new broom design for a major broom company on the continent. And it just so happened that this friend of his was looking to acquire a new apprentice. Flitwick suggested that Harry should apply for the position. He had the power, the talent, and apparently, he had an interest in the subject.

Harry had lost his smile, stepped back and shook his head. No. No, he couldn’t do that. He had a girlfriend and had applied to the Aurors. This was his life-long goal soon to come true.

Flitwick had looked at him shrewdly and asked, “Is it really? I mean, I only ask since you seem so utterly miserable when you talk about your life and what your plans for the future are. If just thinking about it makes you miserable, actually living it will be worse.”

Harry had, of course, denied that. Flitwick didn’t seem at all convinced and suggested that he “Spend some time thinking deeply about what you really want from life, Mr. Potter. Albus Dumbledore was a good man and a great wizard, but I’m not blind to the fact that he manipulated events in your life to bring you to where HE wanted you to be. You were never given a choice. Now, for the first time, you have that choice in your own hands. You can plod along the path laid down for you by others or you can stretch your wings and fly.”

He had excused himself from the awkward turn the conversation had taken and went back home to Grimmauld Place.

Two days later and the professor’s words were still echoing in his head. He couldn’t understand why they had affected him so. He was happy. He had to be. This is what he wanted. What he worked so hard to achieve. So, when faced with an issue he needed to chew over and brood about, Harry did what he had always done. He’d gone to the playground in Little Whining and sat on the swings.

He popped into the playground behind the big oak tree and then walked over to the playground equipment and sat on the swing. He didn’t fit on it as well as he used to, but he was still able to use it being that he was still rail thin and a bit on the short side of average height. Once comfortable, he thought back to what the professor had said. The thing that he kept coming back to was Flitwick saying that the late Albus Dumbledore had secretly arranged his life. Okay, he knew that Dumbledore was the one to place him with his Aunt and Uncle after his parents were killed. But that was because the blood connection between him and his Aunt would fuel the wards to keep the Death Eaters away. And Dumbledore ran the Order of the Phoenix and he knew all about the horcruxes that Harry had to find. He…

Harry blinked. No. No, it was disloyal to think such thoughts.

And yet, there was truth in them. Unacknowledged or not.

But that was during the war and the war was over. He could do what he wanted to and he was. He was his own man.

Only, Professor Flitwick didn’t seem to think so. He seemed to believe that Harry was still following a plan written by someone else.

The sun was starting to set and out of unthinking habit, Harry stood up off his swing and began to walk across the playground to the road. There, he turned to the right and began shuffling towards the neighborhood. All the while, his mind turned over and over trying to figure out just who’s plan he might be following. He certainly couldn’t remember any bullet-pointed list of things that he had to accomplish in his life. Well, beyond “Slay Voldemort”. There was a big fat check mark after that one. But what was next on this hidden and mysterious list of things Harry Potter must do? Become an Auror? Marry Ginny? Have children? Send them to Hogwarts?

That wasn’t a master list of things to manipulate him into doing. That’s what he wanted out of life.

That was what he’d wanted for as long as he could remember. To be a nice normal wizard with a nice normal job and a nice normal family.

Then he turned the corner and heard a long hated voice booming loudly for effect, “Look Pet! Our Dudder’s first company car! Isn’t it a beauty? Why, that boy’s going places I tell you!”

Harry blinked, surprised to realize that his feet were carrying him back to Privet Drive on autopilot while his mind had been occupied. Quickly, he ducked behind a hedge before his relatives spotted him and peered out at them. The three of them were standing in the driveway next to a smaller version of Uncle Vernon’s car. The smaller one, presumably Dudley’s, was done up in a dark blue color. Vernon was beaming proudly and Petunia was fussing over Dudley who seemed to simultaneously be smug and soak up Petunia’s fussing as his due.

“Oh! I’m so proud of my little Diddy-dum’s! I remember when you were just a bright and eager young boy and now you’re all grown up and a man!”

Harry didn’t miss the way that his Aunt and Uncle occasionally gazed out across the street to see which neighbors were watching. He also didn’t miss the fact that there were quite a few of the neighbors that obliged them by watching the performance. He smirked at them all for falling for it. Couldn’t they tell it was just a show? Probably not. They all lived such bland little lives in their cookie-cutter houses with their boring jobs and meaningless gossip and competition for the best garden.

He was about to sneak away when his Aunt’s voice shrilled across the street to his ears, “Oh Duddy, you really are just like your father. I’m so proud. Soon, you’ll be one of the top salesmen just like him. Oh, and I want you to come to tea this Saturday. My dear friend Amelia is coming over and she’s bringing her daughter Felicity. She’s such a dear girl and she’d be perfect for you. She’s tall, blonde and loves to garden.”

He watched as his relatives turned and made their way inside #4 and stood there silently as all his preconceived notions shattered about him to lie in glittery shards at his feet.

His whole life was a lie. He wasn’t living the life of Harry Potter. He was living the life of the Boy-Who-Lived.

He was following a plan, but it wasn’t one of Dumbledore’s making. It was a plan put together by the expectations of his relatives, his friends, and the wizarding public.

The idea of a normal life with a normal job and a normal family was Vernon Dursley’s dream life. He’d had the quest for normality pounded into his mind for years before he’d even heard of Hogwarts. He learned to crave it because being different earned him beatings, starvation, and isolation in a cramped boot cupboard. When he found out about magic he thought that he could be a normal wizard instead of a normal muggle and that would be good enough.

That didn’t work out too well though once he found out about the whole Boy-Who-Lived rot. The Boy-Who-Lived had public expectations to contend with that went against the idea of normality. So, he focused on mastering Flying, Defense and Charms since that was expected and strove for average normality everywhere else. How much could have been changed for the better, how many lives could have been saved if he had worked hard at all his classes instead of just the ones he was expected to do well in? He’d never know.

Being an Auror? A nice normal job…and one acceptable for the Boy-Who-Lived. And when he really thought about it, it wasn’t a career he’d chosen. It was back in fifth year that they had career counseling. Umbridge had ruined his appointment by starting a screaming match with McGonagall. But before then she’d asked what he wanted to do and he’d said Auror, hoping to discuss it with her to get her opinion simply because he’d heard that was what his father and godfather had done. Truthfully, that was really one of the few magical careers he’d even been aware of. The others being teacher, healer, shop clerk, and Ministry Department Head. Surely that couldn’t be all of the careers available? He never got to find out. Umbridge and McGonagall ended up screaming at each other before he could ask and McGonagall was swearing an oath to help him become an Auror and he felt trapped in a choice he hadn’t really made from options he wasn’t even aware of.

And then there was Ginny.

She was the perfect girl for him. Everyone said so. Most especially Molly Weasley and Ron Weasley. Which he was sad to realize, didn’t mean much. He didn’t know when the Weasley’s decided he was the one for her, but he did know that he was the only boy she’d dated that didn’t get harassed into breaking it off with her by her brothers.

It was only now, after hearing his Aunt Petunia trying to set Dudley up with someone just like her that it all clicked. He was trying to imitate his own father’s life because he’d been raised hearing over and over again how Dudley was “just like his father” and he wanted that too. It was normal. And normal is what he was raised to crave. And Harry’s father had become an Auror and married a red haired witch…so what? He had unconsciously set himself up to become an Auror and marry a red haired witch?

Or perhaps he didn’t set himself up for it, but stood back and allowed others to convince him to let things fall into place that way because of his father. Maybe to unconsciously be closer to him, to have things in common with him. To be called “a chip off the old block” or something equally inane.

The only problem was…he wasn’t happy.

If he was totally honest with himself, he looked forward to becoming an Auror Apprentice with a vague sensation of dread. It was something to be endured not enjoyed or Merlin forbid, savored. Although how he thought it would be better as a full-fledged Auror as apposed to an apprentice, Harry wasn’t sure. The truth was; he was riding the edge of burnout from the war. He’d had his belly full of danger, death defying stunts and pain. He’d had enough of dodging curses, dark artifacts, and people’s lives being dependant upon his own success. Maybe in a few years he’d change his mind and miss it all, but right now he couldn’t bring himself to be excited at the thought of being an Auror.

And since he was being totally honest with himself, he had to admit that he was only dating Ginny out of habit. It was the path of least resistance and if his burnout for fighting was real, this made a lot of sense. It’d be an uphill battle to break it off with her and retain his friendship with Ron. And losing Ron meant losing Hermione and he just didn’t know if he could take that one last blow.

That last thought brought him up short.

Losing Hermione’s friendship would hurt him. Badly. He knew that and freely admitted it.

But Ron…

Another illusion shattered as he realized that deep down, he didn’t really consider Ron a friend anymore. Harry called Ron his “best mate” still, but he thought of the guy as “Hermione’s boyfriend”. Why? And when did that happen?

Thinking back, Harry realized it was from the time that Ron abandoned them in the tent with no food and little hope. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camels’ back. It was one betrayal too much for Harry so Ron had slipped from “best mate” to friendly acquaintance.

The other person that really pushed for his relationship with Ginny was Mrs. Weasley. And as much as Harry cared for her and respected her, he had long since resented her overwhelming need to meddle in his life. Especially after she got on the bad side of Sirius doing so. It was the hurt and anger that she’d riled up in his godfather by countermanding his wishes for Harry that had firmly put a stop to Harry seeing her as a mother substitute. She wasn’t his mother. She had no say in his life.

And yet, he knew that she was already planning his wedding in secret.

Harry was nearly dizzy from the sensation of being trapped in his own life. Especially when he realized that despite the fact that he’d never once voiced the idea to anyone ever, it was expected by all that he would become an Auror, marry Ginny Weasley, have children, and eventually end up as the Minister of Magic.

A soft hysterical giggle escaped his lips and he wondered if this is what Bill and Charlie felt before they fled England and their mother to build a life for themselves on foreign shores.

He needed to get away for a while and think.

He needed to figure out what HE wanted to do. It was his life and he needed to take a stand and think about his own needs and happiness for once. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t normal. That was Vernon’s dream. It didn’t matter if it didn’t resemble his father’s life. That was Dudley’s dream. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t an Auror. That was McGonagall’s dream. It didn’t matter if he didn’t marry Ginny. That was Molly, Ron, and Ginny’s dream.

But what was Harry’s dream?

He didn’t know, but he finally realized that he needed to figure it out or he was going to wake up one morning years from now and turn his own wand on himself just to escape the misery that he endured day in and day out.

With a soft pop of air, Harry disappeared from Little Whining.
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