A/N: For any new reader – just read on and skip this boring A/N, okay?
Now, for all of you who read my old story Things, this is the new and revised version of it. Things was deleted by the administration because of the rule against list stories. Therefore, I will have to start over again. At first, I was heartbroken, but now I am starting to consider this an opportunity to edit and change the earlier chapters, and perhaps gain a few new readers in the process… Now, for those of you who have already read this story, there will be a lot of repetition, of course. While I have changed for example this chapter a lot, with even two completely new "drabbles", or whatever I should call them now (not "things" or anything list-like, anyway). (They're number 3 and 10, if you're interested.) And I hope you'll not give up on this story. I will get to updating with new chapters sooner than after I've posted the 47 old ones, I promise! I'll just change the order.
As I see it, you have three options. One, you read these revised chapters in their more developed format and see if you still like them. Two, you ignore the chapters you've already read but still check in from time to time or put this on alert or something to see when I post a brand new chapter. Three, you forget about it completely. I sincerely hope you won't choose option number three…
Okay, I'll stop rambling now. You do whatever you want to, of course. Now, either read this and let me know what you think, or put me on alert or ignore me or whatever you want to do (and I'll stop taking up your time with this overlong A/N).
Growing up, Harry figured that living with the Dursleys would be the most challenging experience he'd ever have to deal with. Getting to Hogwarts, he was sure he was starting a new life, with new possibilities, less difficulties. Then, he faced Voldemort. Once, twice – and again, more times than he could count. Still, he had never felt true agony, true despair and fear until he lost Sirius. His Godfather, his father's best friend. Dead. Vanished, behind a silly, damned veil. At that point, he knew for sure that nothing the world (or Voldemort) could ever throw at him could be worse than this emptiness, this ache of longing and of the hollowest disappointment from what could have been and now was impossible. A family.
Then Fred Weasley's still grinning face was staring unseeingly at him, every night. It wasn't the guilt that made this worse (if he had only gone into the Forest sooner, made it all stop…). He had felt the guilt with Sirius too. It wasn't that he had known Fred longer, that he was an even more counted upon part of his everyday world, or that, while he'd been constantly worrying about Sirius, he'd never even considered that Fred could be lost. No, it wasn't anything like that that made Fred's death a thousand more times more difficult to get over. The difference was that this death broke not only him. It broke his family too (just as he had come to realize that he actually had one).
If forced to choose a best friend of his two, Harry would choose Ron. He's not sure why. Hermione is better in many ways; tactfulness, in understanding his feelings, to comfort him and know to conjure up roses for his parents' graves. He and Ron don't talk about those things. (Not that this means that they don't still know these things about each other, even if they will be forever left unsaid.)
He's not sure why, but he knows that it's true. Fourth year without Ron was a lot more unbearable than the periods in third year without Hermione. Not even mentioning those weeks without him on the Horcrux hunt when his absence made everything impossible to face.
It's not something he's proud of. But it's just always been Ron, ever since that first day on the Hogwarts Express. Ron was his first friend. That means something, runs deeper than he can control.
If asked, though, he'd never admit this. He'd tell the questioner that it's impossible for him to choose between them because it's the combination that does it. (It is, really. They need Hermione too. The difference is just slight, but it is there, and it shames him.)
Since the end of the war, Harry has received the question of when he was most scared in his life countless of times. In the beginning, he used to hesitate, too many events blurring up in his brain at once, and he ended up giving each reporter different answers. After a while, though, he had time to think it through, and he settled on the Battle of Hogwarts. Since then, he has stuck to that, even if many people are surprised to hear this, claiming that he seemed so confident that night, so fearless. But that's not what he means – facing Voldemort. About that, they are right. Then, he didn't have the time to be scared, so he wasn't (even if the way his legs shook afterwards was probably a sign that he hadn't been completely unfazed). But he's not referring to that.
He's referring to the preceding battle, when everything was out of control and everyone he cared about was in the very same building – because of him - and not likely to survive, at least not all of them or even most. That was even worse than walking into the forest, knowing he'd never see them again.
This is why the only events that he considered alongside this battle were the time they fought at the Ministry (it had been his fault, for being stupid, dragging his friends into the trap, and – even if he tried desperately to quiet that voice – he knew all too well that they were only teenagers up against full-grown wizards with no mercy) and the time Ron got poisoned (this doesn't seem all that dramatic to anyone who hears it, and most people even tend to forget that it occurred in the midst of all the other incidents from those years – but for a short while, Harry was sure that he was going to lose the one person that would be most impossible, unthinkable for him to live without, and that sure deserves a place within the top three).
Some people claim that the first few weeks after the battle have turned into a blurry mess of chaotic memories that they can't get into focus – funerals blending together with other funerals. Harry wishes it was blurry for him too. But it's not. It's quite the opposite, in fact. In vivid detail, he recalls Andromeda Tonks handing him the crying Teddy because her body was shaking too badly for her to trust herself with him, Dennis Creevy looking like he'd aged ten years, Susan Bones hysterical sobbing into Hannah Abbott's chest unheard through Mrs Macmillan's piercing shrieks of "no!", his own vigorous lost fight against breaking down as Ginny's tear-streaked face stared stonily ahead at the coffin containing her brother…
Even if he claims the opposite, he was relieved that he was kept busy during that period, with witnessing at Death Eater trials, talking to reporters and so on. Because as what little he did see is burned into his memory, his nightmares, he's not sure he could've taken anything more. From what he's heard about the different DA members' different struggles with injuries, near-death and post-war depression – well, if he'd had the chance, he wouldn't have been able to keep himself from trying to save them too. However, if he had attempted that, he probably never would have made it through himself. And, selfishly, he counts himself lucky. Because he loves his wife and family and his more stable life now, and he would not trade it for anything, not even helping those friends.
He was the best man at Ron's and Hermione's wedding. And, just as a best man is supposed to, he made a speech about how he wasn't surprised to see them standing there, happier than ever, planning to be together forever. "Well, if any of you have seen the two of them together, you know what I'm talking about," he said, earning multiple chuckles from relatives and school mates. They had all seen it, long before at least one of the parts realized what was going on.
However, the truth is that Harry in his school years had never expected his two best friends to actually get married. He had noticed that there was something there sometime in fourth year (Ron was after all painfully obvious), and by sixth year and the whole Lavender-deal, he'd been starting to suspect that they would get together at one point or another. But he'd never thought it would last. (After listening to their bickering year after year – how could he?)
As it turns out, he was wrong. They work, through the bickering and rows. Even if he could never stand that, after the Dursleys, and is perfectly content with his more peaceful co-existence with his wife, he sees that they couldn't have had it any other way.
But, even though he will never admit this, and even lied about it on their wedding day, he didn't fully see that until those first days, weeks, months, after Fred's death. Then, he knew, when it was obvious to anyone, even him, that Hermione was all that kept Ron afloat. Then, he knew, and he saw what most of the world had seen for years. And now, he pretends that he saw it along with them. (After all, he was their best friend, and constantly in their company. How it could have escaped him is beyond him now. No wonder Rose has labelled him "the worst love detector since Merlin's time". While he does protest, he can't help but agree with her. The time it took for him to even figure out his own feelings for Ginny… well, "worst love detector since Merlin's time" might not be that exaggerated.)
At times, he now questions his and Ginny's decision to name their children after deceased heroes. But when they first started discussing baby names, Lily and James were soon agreed on, without hesitation. And when Ginny cradled their son for the first time and whispered "Hi there, James", it felt good. It felt perfect. It felt like he was honouring his parents in a wonderful way, and that he was, in a way, letting them live on.
That night, however, Hermione had a talk with him, tentatively pointing out that there was a possibility that his son would feel too much was expected of them with that name. Harry had honestly never even looked at it like that before. That was why he yelled at her, and told her to mind her own damn business. Because she made him doubt something that had felt so amazing.
That was also why he had to talk to her before he and Ginny settled on Al's name, making sure that she didn't think it was an awful idea. He's grateful that she didn't argue then. He's not entirely sure that she meant it, but she said what he wanted to hear and he needed that. Because when Albus Severus blinked open those green eyes, he just had to have that name.
Naming Lily was the easiest. To name their first girl after his mother was what they had decided from the start. And the name Luna – well, just seeing Luna, who never cried, tear up when they told her was enough to know that they had done the right thing.
Most people think it was an easy decision for him to take the offered post in the Auror department, after months of helping them while being more of an honorary member. The papers saw it as just a formality that he actually got hired for real. But to him, it was an important choice. He and Ginny stayed up late that night, discussing it. He asked her if she thought he was putting her through too much by getting himself into such a dangerous position again, if she thought he shouldn't risk being an as short-lived Godfather to Teddy Lupin as Sirius had been to him, and if maybe it just wasn't worth it. Even if it had been his dream, even if he had no idea what else he would do, he would turn them down if she just said the word. He told her that.
In response, she looked at him seriously, considering him. Then she kissed him softly and told him steadily that this couldn't be her decision.
"But, hey, you've gotten through this much, so I guess there's no reason to believe you're not gonna stick around a while longer, is there? Danger or no danger?" She smiled, and he knew she didn't quite mean it.
He knows that she worries sometimes. But he also knows that she knows as well as he does that being an Auror was just something he had to do – and wanted to do, for that matter. And he will be forever grateful to her for understanding that.
When James left for Hogwarts the first time, he didn't cry. Ginny did, that night, and he comforted her – half-joking (but secretly trying to convince himself also) that this was a good thing, because now Lily and Al would get a chance to be heard once in a while as well.
He didn't cry when Al left either. At the station, he was too busy trying to boost his son's confidence, making sure that he actually would be fine there, away from them. The following day (and weeks, and months), he didn't have time to miss him, being too busy trying to make sure Lily would have a good enough time as a temporary only child.
But, when then Lily left and they returned back home, met with a silence and emptiness that their house hadn't seen in fourteen years, it finally dawned on him. That night he cried like a baby and Ginny was the one who had to comfort him. And convince him not to send a letter to the school at once, demanding that all of their children should be sent home immediately because of the family emergency that he couldn't possibly live without them.
He and Ron had always joked that one day, one of their daughters was bound to end up marrying Draco Malfoy's son (because fate just did love to play with their nerves). When, in Rose's fifth year, Ron stumbled out of the fire, spluttering incoherently ("She – and, and him! I – and she – and him!"), looking extremely flustered but defeated at the same time, Harry just chuckled and poured him a glass of Firewhiskey. Then he, still grinning, told Ron to relax, because Al had been telling them for years that Scorpius was all right.
Secretly, though, he was overwhelmingly relieved. Because, even if he would never admit it to Ron, he knows that if it had been Lily, he would have been a lot less calm. He counts himself lucky there. Lorcan Scamander is a lot easier to deal with. Compared to the son of their old enemy, a former Death Eater, the grandson of Lucius Malfoy – well, compared to that anything would be fine, really. But, even if Harry can't say he loves the idea of his daughter dating, he supposes that Lorcan, Luna's son, is in comparison the ideal son-in-law. Even if he does sometimes talk about Wrackspurts, and, even worse, is a whole year older than Lily – in comparison to what Ron has to go through, Harry really can't complain.
When Hermione suggested that they should arrange some sort of DA reunion, Harry was sceptical. Only a few months had passed after the war, less than that since Ernie's delayed passing. Lavender had just been released from St Mungo's, as had Michael Corner. Cho was still there. George had by now opened up the shop, but wasn't exactly getting out much. Basically, he pictured an evening of awkward conversation and multiple breakdowns, and he wished for nothing of the sort. However, both Ginny and Neville backed Hermione up and despite Harry's reluctance, it happened.
The first time, his expectations were fulfilled. Lavender stayed clutched to Seamus's arm the whole night, keeping her gaze at the floor, hardly speaking to anyone else. Susan didn't show, and Hannah kept checking her watch the whole night, Neville's hand soothingly squeezing hers every few seconds. George stood in a corner with Lee, Angelina and Alicia, switching between looking like he wished he was anywhere else in the world and looking defiantly challenging at everyone who dared look his way with anything resembling pity.
No, the first time wasn't a success. But, still, somehow, these reunions ended up continuing every couple of months, and with time, they became less painful. Eventually, they learned to laugh together. Now, many years later, Harry is grateful to all of them that they kept on going, even through the pain. The relaxed and joyful feats they arrange today are something so completely different from those first times, and he wouldn't want to have missed that for anything.