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Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter.

Author’s Note: This one shot was written as a companion to another fic of mine, Epilogue 2 of “The End,” specifically, though I’m fairly certain that it can also be read as a stand alone piece. If you disagree, or anything in this confuses you, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do about it.

Runner


Dudley taught me to run. It was probably one of the first things I ever learned, right after “Don’t ask questions.” Run like the angel of hell is behind me, because at five I thought it was and at seventeen it might have been and now…maybe I never learned to stand still.

I thought I’d forgotten all the lies the Dursleys told me, about the world, about my parents, about me, but I suppose not. Maybe now that every other rule, every lesson, every piece of advice I’ve ever gotten has been broken or violated, I’ve reverted back to the most basic survival instinct: when someone is barreling at you with fist raised or wand outstretched and there’s nothing you can do about it, run. There are no playground bullies behind me, no dark wizards, at least not yet, but I have to keep running, because I couldn’t stay behind, I couldn’t wait around for it to happen again. I guess I still don’t know what I’m doing here. Maybe Hermione could…

Hermione. She’ll figure it out, realize why I left. Hermione will look at it logically; tell everyone that I’m a dangerous friend and they’re better off without me. They won’t believe her. She won’t believe herself. Maybe Ginny will understand, she did once before, called it a stupid noble thing. I wonder how noble this is. I wish I could go back there and see them again, make sure they’re alright, say goodbye, tell them I’m fine. Maybe I will, I could just…

…Maybe Hermione could explain it to me, why I’m running. She probably knows better than I do. It’s not out of self-preservation, I know that. No one who values his skin starts in England, chooses a direction at random, and then vows to keep flying in a straight until he can’t fly anymore. I could have wound up over the Pacific Ocean and was actually a bit disappointed when I didn’t.

There’s snow all over the ground and it’s freezing up here. I’ve been trying not to use magic, but I had to cast a warming charm on myself. I couldn’t hear my thoughts over my chattering teeth. I might have picked a better time of year to run off like this. I’ve seen more places in the past few weeks than in my entire life. With the Dursleys I was lucky to get as far as the zoo and afterwards, well, I usually had several compelling reasons keeping me in England, but now I can roam wherever I please. I feel freer than I have in my entire life. I had no idea how much there is to see in Europe, so many places, so similar and yet so different, with their strange buildings and different languages. On the ground, if anyone notices me, they see a bedraggled looking kid who doesn’t speak a word of Italian, or forty nine of the other fifty languages on this continent. No one looks at me and sees Harry Potter.

I suppose if someone were to ask most witches and wizards in England, they’d say that the world needs its beacon of light, its hero, its Harry Potter. But the world needed its Albus Dumbledore too, right up until it couldn’t have him anymore, and it still got along alright. So pick a new beacon, I’m through.

So I left because I couldn’t stand being in England anymore, where so much bad has happened that I could have stopped, where people still call me a hero. Turns out I can’t stand being anywhere for too long. So here I am, a hundred meters off the ground, where I can’t see anyone and they can’t see me. All that’s below me are lakes like puddles and buildings like dollhouses and mountains like molehills and I’m nowhere in particular, and if I’m nowhere in particular then I might as well be nowhere at all. Maybe if I stay nowhere for long enough I’ll just disappear. Maybe the world will be better off without me. They’ll mourn the loss of the famous Harry Potter, and in a week they’ll forget all about me, except for Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. They’re why I can’t disappear.

I could save them from Voldemort. I could save them from Death Eaters. But I couldn’t save them from me, not as long as I was there and they were willing to lie, or steal, or sacrifice themselves, or jump in front of spells, or die for me. Maybe Hermione was right about my saving people thing, but sometimes people need to be saved, and sometimes I’m the only one who can. I was fourteen when I realized how I face death. I fight it with everything I have, because it’s the sort of thing that ought to be fought, because it’s what my parents did, because it’s what people expect of me.

I never wanted any of this, not the Dursleys, not the prophecy, not to be hunted by the darkest wizard in a hundred years. All I ever wanted…well, Ginny may have had something to do with it, but I don’t think that can happen now. I try to keep myself from hoping that she won’t find someone else. She deserves to be happy, even if it can’t be with me. It’s not fair, but very little about my life has been fair and I stopped using that as an excuse long ago.

This running is a strange thing. From the time I was eleven I was always chasing: spiders, snakes, Horcruxes, Death Eaters, Voldemort, snitches. Now I don’t even know what I’m running from. My home is the back of a broomstick; my bed is a park bench. I lay awake at night and ask the dark about the state of things. If only they could see the famous Harry Potter now. I want nothing more than to go back, but Dudley taught me to run, and for once I’m going to listen to him.

************

Author’s Note: So that’s it for this one shot. If you’re intrigued and want to know about how Harry got where he is and what’s going to happen to him, have a look at “The End.” There’s a link in my profile page. In the meantime, please let me know what you thought of this. Thanks for reading!

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