…when he’d seen it, his heart had clean stopped–and for a moment, there had been an overwhelming silence in his mind. he felt his magic and warrior’s instincts honing into a lethal combination the longer he stared–howling to rip apart the people who had done that with his bare hands.
James and Lily expected more time with Harry. The war would end and there’d be room for more. More celebrations and birthdays and firsts with enough giggling smiles to fill countless photo albums.
After, Harry still has firsts, a decade of them that feel like an ill-fitting coat. His first night in the cupboard. The first threat of “to bed (and following day) without supper!” that Uncle Vernon followed through on. The first time he’s punished for magic Harry doesn’t know he has.
But then he turns eleven, and Harry has the coat turns into vibrant crystal. Warm memories and firsts that he replays in his mind over and over, until the edges are worn smooth. The first time he reads his letter. That first dead-run through the barrier and his first time on the Hogwarts Express. His first friend, and then later, friends. His first quidditch match and the joy of owning his own broom.
There are first birthday cards and the first time he finally had a family that wants him. Harry’s first (and second, and third) sleepover at the Weasleys. First antics and mischief making and riddle solving. His first time teaching a class full of fellow students because they believe in him.
Harry learning he destroyed the first horcrux when he was twelve and Dumbledore already destroyed the second. Harry’s first day on the run, and it’s the three of them as always. The first time he understands that the Hallows are real, and the choice over which to chase. The first smile he and Ron share when Ron came back.
The first moment Harry understands what he is meant to do and that terrifying first step into the forest. And that first tentative breath as everyone stares at Voldemort’s lifeless corpse.
The first reunion after the battle with passed flasks of firewhiskey and hoarse voices. The memories still ache but they’re healing.
The first time holding his son, and Harry’s heart full to bursting.
Every first is etched into the laugh lines on his face and fading scars on his skin, and the tender care he gives to the spaces in-between where there aren’t any firsts yet.
Harry smiles at his reflection in the mirror, ruffling his hair like his father used to do and says “It’s a good look on you, old man.”