Waiting for You
(Author's note: All characters, places, names, etecetera, not of my own creation belong to Ms. Rowling, and no offense or profit is intended by their use. The title is derived from a song I heard on a bootlegged European tape some years ago; the phrase caught my attention and I used it as the title until the song was actually released in the States under another name. Since it's not really a songfic, I won't bore you with the details there.)
Waiting for You
It had been three years since he had left Hogwarts.
Since he had left Britain for that matter. Somewhere in the aftermath of Voldemort's defeat and death, Mr. Potter - only those who had actually known him were given the right to call him Harry - had slipped away from the Order and the Wizarding World. The last known sighting had been the guys on the Knight Bus, who'd dropped him off at Shakespeare Cliff on the southeast coast, the day after his eighteenth birthday, August the First, three summers ago.
Not that anyone had forgotten, not that anyone had stopped looking.
Like the Jews had done for centuries, awaiting Elijah, it had become customary in the Wizarding World to set an extra place setting, in case Mr. Potter turned up. Restaurants throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade had enlarged their tables to suit.
Those wizards and witches who wore glasses had rapidly tended toward black wire-framed models, though avoiding round-lensed ones, in a twisted mix of fashion and respect.
Small children recognized his picture before they recognized the letters of their own names. It had begun as a huge headline on the Daily Prophet, then slowly shrunk down to the lower corner, but the Prophet had never dared to remove it from the front page. A tiny caption always asked, "Have you seen Mr. Potter?"
"Have you seen Mr. Potter?" His friends - those who had survived - were accustomed to the question; it was also asked every time they dared show their faces in public.
Neville Longbottom ran the best nursery in Diagon Alley, yet he was asked that more often than customers inquired as to the proper care of the plants they purchased from him.
Fred and George Weasley, proporietors of the Wizarding World's most successful prank shop, simply changed the subject to their new line of Jawbludger candies.
Remus Lupin, activist for werewolves' rights, was asked at every press conference and public appearance, sometimes twice. His reply was always the same. "Not recently. Next question?"
Even Dumbledore had bowed to the public curiosity; at last fall's Sorting Feast, his remarks had been: "The Forbidden Forest is strictly out of bounds to all students. And I have a few words to share. Quidditch. Self-evident. Pursuit. Inalienable. And no, I have not seen Mr. Potter."
All this was common knowledge in the Wizarding World.
It was not, however, common knowledge in the Muggle World. The new Minister of Magic, a friend of Mr. Potter - perhaps even his prospective mother-in-law, many whispered - had clearly stated that "If he truly wants to be found, he will be, without our needing to explain the situation to the Muggle Prime Minister. Besides, he is not a criminal." She had then smiled that wry smile of hers, and continued, "Then again, neither was Mr. Black."
She, herself, had fielded the question more times than she could count, before she'd finally left her Ministry job and gone to work for her parents, in order to avoid it.
Even so, it came two or three times a week, when the Muggle relatives of a friend or a Hogwarts student would call for an appointment. And a surprising number of her parents' appointments, these days, were made by owl post.
A Muggle picture of him, framed, hung on the wall above her desk, placed so it could be clearly be seen, though without the Prophet's caption. A collection of crayon drawings of him was taped to the wall around it, courtesy of the many small wizards and witches who'd sat in the waiting room while parents or siblings had their cleanings and fillings, and been given crayons and paper to keep themselves entertained. The drawings ranged from his Sorting to dragon-slaying to gardening, and sometimes she wondered if any of them covered his recent activities.
She glanced at the calendar, remembering something he'd said, long ago, when Padfoot had been on the run. "An owl doesn't really need an address, just the name. The address just makes it easier." To her knowledge, nobody had tried to write him in at least a year. He hadn't yet replied to her first letter, four days after he'd disappeared, but she knew that he eventually would and had not written again.
Just then, the phone rang, and she picked up, wishing that it would be him.
"Granger Dentistry, Hermione speaking."