It is 10 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. How is Harry dealing with PTSD?
The wizarding world had found a decade’s peace after Voldemort’s demise, but all was not yet well, for one more battle remained. It was one Harry had long put off fighting, against opponents long gone and even longer unseen.
In the immediate rebuilding, Harry had been too distracted to notice what was happening – there was the pressing need to bury his loved ones and classmates, to compose his own testimony before the Ministry of Magic, the sound of fluttering that meant yet another demand, another request, another interview. These were tasks that emptied his life’s hourglasses, items on a to-do list that magically, miraculously never got any shorter. In the spare moments he could manage, Harry often found himself cursing that he had smashed the Minstry’s stock of Time-Turners, knowing he could surely use one now.
This – cursing himself – was something he found himself doing increasingly often.
This also was not usual, for self-loathing and punishment did not really suit Harry. Long before he came of wizarding age, he had felt pain enough, lost enough to become adept at dodging the wild branches of feeling. The years had taught him how to swerve wildly away from survivor’s guilt and veer out of shame’s way. Coping in this way, practicing emotional evasion was a necessity for him – it was one of the few things that helped ensure he would stay the Boy Who Lived, preventing his collapse under the weight of prophecy.
But the day had come where he could no longer duck away from those branches, deeply-rooted and growing steadily over the last decade. In the years that followed the Battle of Hogwarts, they would swing more and more violently every time he was reminded of the death toll, with greater and greater force every time he thought about those who had sacrificed in the name of his destiny, until finally, they connected.
He did not remember exactly when it began – a few months after his engagement to Ginny was as best as he could recall — but Harry’s waking hours became wracked with guilt, his sleeping ones interrupted by ghosts – the faces of Dobby, Dumbledore, Professor Lupin, Tonks, Sirius, and his parents. Each simply lingered there, sometimes fading out of sight, but never out of mind. There was only the vision of their faces, and the slamming of guilt.
As Harry confided the truth of his days to Ron and Hermione, his friends urged him to pay an extended visit to St. Mungoe’s Hospital for Magical Maladies, to take a haitus from his responsibilities as an Auror and deal with those haunting him. When he had had enough of the nauseating panic, Harry relented, checking himself in for the entire gamut of treatments, but even the most intensive sleeping draughts and memory charms could not pull him from a lifetime of unmanaged pains, could not dull the loss of an innocence he was never even allowed to have.
Hermione, despite all her research, was no more successful than the healers. There were no old incantations scribbled in some obscure textbook that could help Harry – the magical world, for all of its fantastic advancement, was not necessarily one more emotionally in tune. In fact, it had developed tools like the Pensieve to conveniently avoid trauma, not resolve it.
In time, Harry simply struggled on, swallowing the bitter potion of reality in order to keep on as The Boy Who Lived — he was to bear the balance of what his friends and family had paid. What he did not know, could never know, was whether or not the price was worth it. And worst of all, he was now long engaged to a woman whose brother was among the payers. He could not end it with her now, and though he felt deeply for Ginny, he could not tell her that the real love of his life was met on a train at age 11.
All the while, his ghosts continued to watch him toil, day after day, never speaking, never giving the forgiveness he hoped would come. Dumbledore had once told him, on the night he died, that magic always left traces.
So too, did pain.
Perhaps that was why had begun to spend his nights with quill and parchment in hand. The act took him back to his days at Hogwarts, suffering under the wrath of Dolores Umbridge. Those were not pleasant times, but the hours he spent in her study, bleeding line after line had breathed a truth to life – his deep belief that he must not tell lies.
He hoped it could again.
“I must keep living for them. Everything will be alright. My marriage will be a happy one.” he wrote, the scars on his right hand still firmly in view. “I must keep living for them. Everything will be alright. My marriage will be a happy one.”
He smirked grimly and copied the lines again, the scribbling continuing deep into the night.