Toward Freedom

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Here We Go Again

Chapter 2: Toward Freedom

POV: Al

The feeling of crossing the barrier between platforms nine and ten never got old. There was nothing quite like the sight of the Hogwarts Express steaming on its tracks, waiting for all students to board to take them toward a new year of unknown adventure. Parents on the other side hoped it was the thirst for knowledge that happily made us climb on, but it wasn't just that (at least not for a lot of us). 

It was knowing we were heading for freedom.

"Listen to me, Al," Dad had said earlier this morning. He had walked into my bedroom, pretending like he did not see me stuffing his old, trustee Invisibility Cloak into my trunk. He sat at the edge of my bed, laying his Auror robes on his lap, careful not to wrinkle them after Mum had gone on a rant about him having to look at least somewhat presentable as Head Auror. "You're a Sixth Year now, and with that comes a little more room to breathe. You're a smart kid, but I know you're not going to run along and join extra curricular activities with Rose to occupy that spare time."

"Wizardying Debate isn't actually as thrilling as Rose makes it out to be, Dad," I told him with a chuckle, proceeding to throw in extra socks into my trunk. "Nor is the Herbology Huddle Neville has been trying to sell for the past five years."

"The point is," Dad continued, offering me a small, fleeting smirk after my comment, "it's easy to skive off. Your exams are harder, yeah, but you have less responsibility. You have more time to get into mishaps. And while I'm not exactly the perfect model on following rules when at school, I just want you to remember... the Ministry is monitoring your magic."

I turned to him, pausing my debate of whether or not I should pack the books Aunt Hermione had brought over for me to take back to school (something she did every summer with each of us, hoping it would encourage us to read more).  "What's that supposed to mean? I cast one spell and suddenly I'm reckless? Suddenly I'm a threat?"

"You cast an Unforgivable," Dad said louder than we both expected his voice to echo out.  "You cast the worst of the three. And believe me, Albus, I know why you did it, but your choice had consequences. You are under the Ministry's watch now -- for the next couple of years, no less. Be aware of that. Be aware of your actions."

I slammed the top of my trunk closed. I had wanted to tell him that I was aware. I wanted to tell him I knew what I was doing, even if they thought I had been wrong. The actions I took to save Mum last year were not wrong. I knew Dad wanted me to regret my choice, but how could I if it saved Mum's life?

"Son," he sighed as he stood, placing a hand on my shoulder. He looked down at my hands. I had not realized my palms were clutched into fists, "casting Unforgivables taps into a darkness inside of you. However small, magic like that fans it into something bigger. I just don't want to see that happen." 

Freedom before had meant miles of castle and grounds between James and me. 

Freedom now meant escaping a choice I had made to save my mother.

"What's wrong with you?" There was a nudge on my ribs. I turned to the left, finding Lily's brown eyes narrowing at me in questioning. "You're usually a complete dweeb about seeing the train every year."

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