Disclaimer: All the parts of the Harry Potter universe belong to the talented Ms. Rowling—I'm merely a fan who would rather enjoy living in such a world.
Author's Note: This is what happens when you have a summer desk job that occasionally allows your mind to wander. This was written before the publication of Book 7 and there's a chance it may be in conflict with how Harry's future actually turns out. It's a one-shot, so this is it.
The Girl in the Papers
By Blue Kat
They say that you can't choose your family. Not that I'm complaining, of course—I like my family. We get on well. However, there are times when I really wish I could change who they were. Not their identities or personalities, but how they fit into society.
Let me start over.
My dad is…fairly famous. Actually, I suppose 'fairly' would be an understatement. Dad is regarded on the same level as great heroes. He's the stop-traffic-Merlin's-beard-is-that-who-I-think-it-is sort of famous.
My dad is Harry Potter.
I'm going to assume that you've probably heard of him as well.
Please don't misunderstand me; I am in every way grateful and appreciative of what my father did and I think I'm quite lucky to call him my dad. However, I really can't deny that there is an enormous amount of pressure that accompanies being his daughter.
The media attention is one thing. Reporters have been a constant in my life since before my birth. Mum saved some of the articles for me—"'The Boy-Who-Lived: A Dad?!", "Harry and Ginny Expecting!", "Potters' first child to arrive in December!" Accompanying the articles were pictures of my parents, glowing and happy, although Mum had taken a black marker to the ones that she thought were unflattering.
More articles and pictures accompanied my birth—"Potters welcome Lily Margaret!", "It's a girl: the newest Potter!", "Potters have a baby girl, Mrs. P smacks intrusive reporter with bedpan" (Mum was quite proud of this last one, especially because it was accompanied by a photograph of the incident in question).
I had my first interview at the age of two when I loudly and clearly informed a reporter that Dad and I had to leave because I really needed to use the toilet. Unfortunately, that went into the actual article and even more unfortunately, Mum saved a copy. Dad had me accompany him on several interviews thereafter, resulting in several instances like this:
Reporter: Mr. Potter, how do you feel about the current situation at the Ministry?
Dad: Well, I think—
Me: (to the reporter) You've got a big nose.
Mum saved those articles as well.
But as soon as I began progress into adulthood, cute answers were no longer enough. Reporters had real questions and they wanted real answers. The first serious question I was ever asked happened shortly after my tenth birthday. A reporter stopped me while I was out with my parents and asked how I felt being named after my grandmother, who so heroically sacrificed herself and whether or not I drew strength from her example.
Luckily, Dad was there to say "that's enough" and tell the reporter to clear off.
Truthfully, I don't mind being named after my grandmother (actually, I was also named after Grandmother Weasley as well, but most people don't realize it). I admire her greatly as well as the selfless decision she made. But do I want to talk to a complete stranger about that or reveal my feelings to the public at large? No. It's not that I'm embarrassed or ungrateful—it's just that some things should be private.
The hard thing about these questions was that they were rarely about me. I don't mean to sound egocentric when I say that, but it was rather difficult sometimes. No one wanted to know about Lily Margaret Potter as a person—they were interested in Lily Margaret Potter, daughter of heroic Harry Potter and granddaughter of martyred Lily and James Potter. It was almost like having two identities—the real me and this girl in the papers who was completely detached from me, a girl who was only famous because of her family.
I had hoped that once Sirius (named Sirius James for Dad's godfather and Grandfather Potter respectively) grew up, he would be able to help me shoulder the immense burden placed on my shoulders. No such luck. The pressure and the reporters didn't bother Sirius in the slightest—Dad always said that he was named well, as the original Sirius sported a similar carefree attitude. The press loved it. When my sister Fiona (who was not named for anyone—Mum just liked the name) came around, I hoped that she would help share the burden that Sirius had ignored. However, this was another case of wistful thinking, as Fee was similarly unperturbed by the attention and also turned out to be good at everything she attempted, not unlike Aunt Hermione. Next to Sirius and Fee (not to mention Mum and Dad), I was the plainest of the Potters. Although 'plain' isn't necessarily a bad thing to be, it's quite difficult when you're part of an otherwise quite exceptional family.
Hogwarts also introduced a different set of pressures for me. When I received my acceptance letter, the Daily Prophet ran an article—"Eldest Potter to begin Hogwarts this September!"—and there were quite a few reporters who came to see me off on the Hogwarts Express. This did not create the best impression on my fellow classmates.
"You must think you're really something special, huh?" sneered a girl called Chelsea Logan when she found and cornered me on the train. "Having reporters come to the station to interview you?"
"No, not really," I replied. I wanted to say that it wasn't really me they were here for—it was this idea of me, the girl in the papers, but I thought she might think me mad. So instead I said: "They were really there for my dad, but perhaps you're too thick to notice that."
It sort of escalated from there and Mum and Dad were not very pleased to hear that I got into my first fight before I'd even arrived at school. Uncle Ron, however, sent me a note of congratulations (with a postscript from Aunt Hermione advising me not to listen to his advice).
However, quite luckily for me, both Mum and Dad did not have perfect academic records. They were both clever, of course, but I didn't have to live up to Aunt Hermione-like standards when it came to my schooling. There were, however, different expectations that I had to live up to.
"Lily, how does it feel to know that when your dad was your age, he had triumphed over You-Know-Who twice and saved the Sorcerer's Stone?" was the first question a reporter managed to ask me after I completed my first year at Hogwarts. I more or less got the same question every year after that. Fourth year was the worst because Hogwarts hosted another Triwizard Tournament (with even more security measures). I was quite glad that my name didn't turn up in the Goblet of Fire—I was more interested in getting Colin Rigby to notice me than defying death—but the reporters were fairly disappointed. Some of them even managed to call my strength of character into question.
"Young Sirius Potter at least attempted to place his name in the Goblet of Fire, while his older sister did not. Lily has her father's eyes, but it seems Sirius got his father's daring," reported one article in the Daily Prophet.
"Don't worry about it," wrote Dad after I'd owled him about the article. "Honestly, I'm slightly disappointed in Sirius. I thought I had made it clear that entering the Tournament was extremely dangerous. He's only twelve—I don't know what he's playing at…Anyway, it's all rubbish, Lily. They like to think they know you, but they don't. Keep your chin up and try not to let it bother you so much."
In cases like these, I was grateful for the girl in papers because I could sometimes pretend that they were talking about someone else and not me at all.
Other than that, I rarely had problems at Hogwarts itself because reporters weren't allowed on the premises, unless it was for a special event like the Triwizard Tournament. I had great friends, I got on well with most of the other students (with the exception of Chelsea Logan), I got decent marks and I was on the Gryffindor Quidditch team (although I was a Beater, which was great because people couldn't really make many comparisons between me and Dad). Despite occasional difficulties, life was pretty good.
However, when Career Advising appointments came up in my fifth year, things took a bit of a turn.
While I was a fairly good student and a decent Quidditch player, there wasn't one talent that really stuck out. I wasn't really "excellent" at anything except for maybe Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts. However, neither one of those subjects were really interesting to me. I suppose I enjoyed them to some extent, but they weren't what I'd call a passion.
The weekend before my appointment with Professor McGonagall (who was still the head of Gryffindor house, although she said she was getting too old for the job, as she had seen three generations of Potters pass through Hogwarts) happened to be a Hogsmeade weekend, for which I was extremely grateful. I had been growing tired of the Gryffindor common room and I needed a change of scenery. I stuffed all my informational literature on various areas of employment in my bag and took over a table at the Three Broomsticks. With a butterbeer in one hand and a quill for taking notes in the other, I began to read through the material.
After several hours in the Three Broomsticks, I had read through all the leaflets and brochures and had come no closer to reaching a decision. My mug of butterbeer long since drained, I sat at the table staring into space and sketching aimlessly on the margins of my parchment.
"There must be something out there for me…" I thought to myself. "Surely—"
"I thought I recognized that untidy mane of hair," declared a voice. I looked up.
"Hi, Uncle Fred," I said grimly. He looked mildly affronted as he pulled up a chair.
"I'm Uncle George."
"Sorry," I replied. "The lighting's bad in here."
"Sorry is right," said the real Uncle Fred, pulling up an empty chair and sitting down next to me.
"You're no longer our favorite niece," said Uncle George primly.
"Pity," I replied. "What're you doing here?"
"We're looking in on the new shop and we thought we'd stop by for a quick pick-me-up," answered Uncle George.
"What's the matter?" asked Uncle Fred as he got a good look at my face. "You look like you've lost your best friend."
"We're only joking, you know, you're still our favorite," said Uncle George, patting my hand reassuringly.
"Ah, no wonder!" said Uncle Fred, taking notice of the stack of papers on the table and picking up a leaflet that read 'Considering a career in Healing?'
"Career Advice!" declared Uncle George, taking a pamphlet and flipping it over. "'Become an Auror and fight the forces of evil'."
"Doesn't sound like you, Lily," said Uncle Fred, wrinkling his nose.
"Nice picture of your dad, though," stated Uncle George, tapping a photograph under the heading 'Famous Aurors.'
"And you don't want to be Healer…I've heard there's a lot of vomit involved," advised Uncle Fred.
"Any prospects?" asked Uncle George.
"No…" I sighed. "I just…I don't know what I want to do. I've looked through the entire pile and I haven't found anything."
"Oh, cheer up," urged Uncle Fred.
"It's a bit of a joke anyway," said Uncle George.
"We went through the appointment with McGonagall without anything in mind," said Uncle Fred. "Well, not anything proper, mind you. We knew that we wanted to start the joke shop. McGonagall told us we wouldn't amount to anything if we didn't get our priorities straightened out."
"And look at us now," said Uncle George proudly.
"But you're good at that!" I protested. "I'm not really good at anything…I'm just average and rather plain."
"What's this, then?" asked Uncle George, pointing to a few of my sketches.
I shrugged. "Nothing. Just some sketches—they're not anything special."
"I beg your pardon!" exclaimed Uncle George.
Uncle Fred raised his eyebrows. "I'll have you know that these are quite good."
"You're just saying that to cheer me up."
"Would I lie to you?" asked Uncle Fred.
"Remember that time you told me it would be really funny to put a gnome in Grandmum's handbag?"
"Well, I didn't lie—it was funny," protested Uncle Fred.
"You neglected to mention the fact that I'd get in quite a lot of trouble," I replied.
"Both of you, actually," added Uncle George.
"It's an isolated incident," said Uncle Fred, waving his hand.
"And then that other time—"
"The point is, Lily," interrupted Uncle Fred, "we would not misguide you in a situation such as this."
"We know when to draw the line," agreed Uncle George.
"You've been drawing for ages, Lily," said Uncle Fred.
"And you've gotten quite good," added Uncle George, looking quite serious. "It's obvious that you enjoy it, so…why not?"
I paused for a moment.
"Well…even if I am…what can I do?" I asked. "It seems like I'd be wasting the magical part of my education."
"There's plenty to do!" exclaimed Uncle Fred. "You don't think illustrations draw themselves, do you?"
I raised an eyebrow. "Well, actually—"
"Don't be cheeky," scolded Uncle George.
"There's still demand for someone who is naturally talented at drawing," said Uncle Fred.
"Magic doesn't replace everything," added Uncle George.
I paused once more.
"It's just…what will Mum and Dad say?"
"They'd say that if it makes you happy, you ought to do it," replied Uncle George. "They're smart like that, your parents."
"Besides, who cares what they say?" stated Uncle Fred.
"Who cares what anyone says?"
"It's your career, isn't it?"
"And if it's what you want to do, then that's what matters most," concluded Uncle George.
"Your grandmother didn't approve of our choice of occupation," added Uncle Fred, " bu we went through with it anyway. And she came 'round after a while when she realized that it was what we wanted to do."
"I thought it was because we didn't come to financial ruin?" said Uncle George.
Uncle Fred shrugged. "Same thing, really. Point is, it was our dream and we didn't let people interfere with that because we knew that it what was right for us."
I chewed my lip for a moment. I had always liked drawing and I had always been rather good at it. And hadn't Dad always said that I never looked happier than when I had blank piece of paper in front of me and a pencil or a paintbrush in my hand?
I took a deep breath.
"I think…I think you may be right." I paused again. "I think I want to be an artist."
"That's my girl," said Uncle Fred with a huge grin.
"I knew you'd come through," replied Uncle George.
"What d'you say we head down to the shop?" suggested Uncle Fred.
"We'll let you use the old Family Discount to celebrate," added Uncle George.
I smiled slightly. "All right."
The three of us left the Three Broomsticks, my spirits lighter than they had been in a great while. For one of the first times in my life, I had a great sense of who I was. I wasn't just Harry Potter's daughter or Lily Potter's namesake. I was, above all things, me. I was Lily Margaret Potter, an average fifteen year old witch and an aspiring artist. The girl in the papers was only one very small part of me (but a part of me nonetheless). And for once, that was all right with me.
On the way out, I pitched all my leaflets into the rubbish bin. I kept the parchment because Uncle Fred was right…the drawings were quite good.