A/N: So, it's been awhile. I'll try to keep this note short. This story was inspired, in part, by the style of The Boy Detective Fails, by Joe Meno. It is a wonderful story – if you only read one book this year, barring, of course, Deathly Hallows, it should be Boy Detective. Much thanks to Black is the New Pink for the beta, I don't own anything, I love constructive criticism, etc. Just read the damn thing.
A Diagnostic Analysis of the Life and Times of Harry Potter: Part 5
Chapter One (Beginning Where We Left Off)
Harry had to be careful now, very careful, because every now and then he forgot, and remembering again hurt much, much worse.
He had to remember there was nothing left for him.
It was not an emotion he had expected, nor could he have dreamt it, even during the darkest nights when truculent phantoms promenaded just behind his eyelids.
Nevertheless, the apathy was quick to set in.
// We have heard of this thing, this state called disassociation or desensitization. We are not sure which is correct, but both seem to embody the same concept. In order to test its actuality, we put together a film composed entirely of violent, graphic images and showed it to a group of randomly selected muggles. By the end of the hour long run, every single one of them was immune to human suffering. Because Harry Potter spent not an hour, but three years of his life, in a state of nearly constant warfare, we feel it is safe to diagnose this as his ailment. //
After Voldemort was destroyed, Harry went to the Burrow, because there he had felt more at home than anywhere else. He didn't like it as much as he'd remembered.
Everyday he woke up. He laid in bed. He ate; he walked about the house, trying not to see the other blank-eyed specimens pacing beside him. He went to sleep again. Sometimes, he accidentally talked to someone. The way their eyes would spark, ever so slightly, made him feel sick, and he would return to his room (because Fred and George were gone, both of them gone gone gone so Mrs. Weasley had gifted it to him, tearfully, and then returned to her cold, lonely bed, only to wake again grasping for the husband that had gone with three of her sons) for the rest of the day: the lights turned off, on the floor, arms crossed on the chest, pretending to be dead.
More often than these accidents, he would be accosted. And in every case, these confrontations were instigated by one Ginevra Weasley. She had taken this mission upon herself, realized that someone had to pull Harry out of his self-induced slump. Because she did not care how much suffering and trials and tribulations he had gone through, he ought not be so depressing all the time. Secretly, she thought it gave him more right to happiness than anyone and everyone else. Outwardly, she tried to make it quite clear that Harry needed to get over himself. However, it was quite evident that Harry did not share either of Ginny's outlooks on his emotions.
Whenever she managed to corner him, Harry would stare resolutely at his hands, pick at the dirt that may or may not have been underneath his nails. Ginny would take his hands in hers, rub them to get the blood moving, hoping that the friction-generated warmth would travel back to his heart.
// We have reason to believe that warm blood had little or nothing to do with Harry Potter's eventual recovery. A complete list of possible catalysts has been complied and can be procured by contacting Cecil Hawthorne. We can inform you of the most probable catalyst, however (and this should come as no surprise): Ginevra Weasley. (Reasons for this have been sent out to committee for continued discussion.) //
On the day that The Breakthrough was finally made, the day The Problem was recognized (recognition being an important step towards the final solution), nothing particularly interesting was happening. There was, however, one anomaly in the daily routine. Harry had accidentally bumped into Ron while reaching across the table for butter for his pancakes. In turn, Ron had knocked over the syrup and it dripped, sloth-like and sticky, across the thick wood grain. Harry had begun apologizing profusely, embarrassed and fumbling for his wand, unable to remember the spell to clean it up. Upset, he had rushed from Hermione's consoling face and the spark in everyone's eyes, the joy because he had simply mumbled a few sparse words.
This, of course, was not the anomaly. This sort of situation happened all the time. // We have chosen not to report each instance for the sake of succinctness. // The anomaly was something like this: Claustrophobia (wall wall wall ceiling wall floor equal sign suffocation arrow solution question mark The Outside World exclamation point). So instead of escaping to his room, Harry ran out the back doors and into the fresh air. It was the first time he left the house after nine solid months of confinement. It was also his twenty-first birthday, though this is of little consequence.
He ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and even after all that running he really did not get very far, because staying inside a single house for three-quarters of a year tends to result in a loss of muscle tone. So Harry collapsed into the grass, not entirely sure where he was, and breathed a beetle.
Flipping onto his stomach, he coughed and sputtered until the insect was repelled from his airway, a sick, acidic flavor on his tongue. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face into the grass, hard enough so that his nose and forehead were stained green. Then Harry let his entire body relax, hoping that if he didn't think about it enough he and the Earth would cease to be separate entities and simply melt into each other.
He stayed like that for a long time // Based on memories and sun-to-horizon angle ratio examination we feel it safe to assume he laid in this comatose position for approximately nine hours. Probably, he fell asleep during this time. // When Harry finally rolled onto his back, a fringe of dusk was just beginning to suffuse across the summer sky.
And it looked so beautiful, and his mind felt beautiful right along with it, and at that moment The Problem became clear. For the first time in a very, very long time // Unfortunately, it was too long for us to gauge an accurate estimate. Maybe three years. Maybe not. // a smile split Harry Potter's face.
"Hello," said a soft voice above him.
"Hello," he responded, the corners of his lips still twitching.
Ginny fell into the grass beside him, gazing at the heavens.
"Would you like to help me with something?" Harry asked, propping himself up on his elbow.
She shrugged ever-so-slightly, her hand moving to trace a picture in the sky invisible to all but her. "Sure."
Lying back down, Harry took Ginny's raised arm and drew a pattern of his own design, The Problem in picture, her eyes following the lines they drew in the atmosphere. "We are going to find everything inside of me that I lost. I know it's gone. I just don't know where it went to."
"They," mumbled Ginny.
He stopped sketching their picture, and she shook herself slightly.
"They, not it. I hardly think your insides are still intact."
Grinning again, glad that she accepted him so simply, glad that she accepted The Problem for what it was, Harry stood, pulling Ginny to her feet. "Alright then. When can we start looking for them?"
Biting her lip, she gently mussed his hair. Leaning close, she breathed into his ear: "Welcome back, Harry."
// We are very sorry, but we are unable to provide a quality answer for this particular puzzle, this power of encoded words to unlock another so easily, for two to say and understand and be in such a way that everything is right. Of course, this mystery is the basis of our largest research project, one that had been in motion for years upon years, an apparently indefinite amount, for we appear no closer to cracking it than when be began, at the time of our Department's conception.
(It is quite a conundrum, this love.) //