Battle-Scarred

The things they lost in the war.


Harry: Motion

Harry Potter's whole life was one blur of motion.

From the time he was a child, he spent his days working: weeding the garden, cleaning the floors, cooking dinner. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon never let him stop moving until it was time to shut him up in the cupboard for the night, and then he would sleep fitfully, his mind invaded by nightmares of green flashes and high, cold laughter.

Even when he was sitting still in class, his mind would be racing with fantastical visions of flying motorcycles and how on earth he had ended up on the roof that one time. Maybe he could fly?

It turned out, he could.

When he got to Hogwarts, he landed almost instantly on the Quidditch team, and away he was again, soaring around the grounds on his brand new broom, just a blur of red and gold in the sky.

He was always planning, thinking, solving. Diving blindly down trapdoors guarded by three-headed dogs, killing basilisks, fighting off dementors, performing some ridiculous stunt for the Triwizard Tournament, racing to the Department of Mysteries, fighting death eaters, fighting Voldemort, hopping across the country in a tent, destroying horcruxes, and fighting, and fighting, and fighting. And moving.

If the adversary wasn't his near-abusive relatives, it was near-evil (and sometimes completely evil) professors, or monsters, or Lord Voldemort himself. There was always something to fight, always something to move to.

So when the battle was won, and Voldemort vanquished, and the whole of the wizarding world celebrating their victory—Harry stopped moving.

The remaining death eaters were scattered and running for their lives. The ministry was back under the control of the good guys. All of Hagrid's blast-ended skrewts had long died. There was no one to fight.

He sat with Ginny at the Burrow, summer sun goldenly alighting the grassy hills. He'd been doing a lot of sitting lately. Ron had once suggested a game of Quidditch, but Harry wasn't interested. He didn't have his broom anymore, anyway.

So he sat. He had never noticed how quiet the world was, when you sat still.

He thought Ginny had come to sit with him because she wanted to snog or something, but she made no move, so he didn't either. Eventually she turned to face him, and he was surprised to find her looking angry.

"So you're just going to sit here all day, is that it?" she demanded.

Harry shrugged.

She crossed her arms. "Why can't you just…" She sighed.

Harry gazed off at the setting sun. "Just what?"

"Look around, will you?" She stuck her face in front of his. "Dad and Percy are doing major cleanup for the Ministry so it can get back on its feet. Bill and Fleur are pregnant. George is reopening the shop. And Ron and Hermione are always together, looking as if they'll be married within a year."

Harry sincerely doubted that last one. Hermione was a bit too sensible to marry before she had a career in place. He was about to voice this, but Ginny cut him off.

"Do you know what I'm saying?"

"Er…" He faltered. "Not really."

Ginny gave another aggravated sigh. "They're all moving on, Harry, every one of them! Even George! And I feel like you and I are just… sitting around. I can't even tell whether you care about me or not anymore."

Stung, Harry whirled to face her. "I do!"

"Then why can't we move forward? I know it's hard, it's hard on all of us, but you can't just stay stuck in the past forever!" she argued, her eyes hard and glinting, her hair fiery in the glow of the setting sun.

Harry's tongue was stuck in his throat. How could he explain the stagnation he had felt since May? How could he explain the vast, empty gulf that was his future, a future that he dared not contemplate? The farthest ahead he was capable of thinking was the next meal. Every time Ginny had brought up the future of their relationship, Harry just waved her off. How could he explain the agonizing impossibility of even thinking of these things? Of thinking beyond the sun on the hills and the wind in his face and the deadly quiet of the world?

So he just shook his head. "Ginny, I can't—"

Ginny stood up abruptly. "Forget it."

So he sat there, the world as silent and still as the bodies that had once lined the Great Hall, which he saw on the inside of his eyelids whenever he lay down to sleep. This was why he didn't sleep very much.

Ron noticed Ginny's irritation towards Harry and confronted him about it. Harry admitted that he wasn't quite sure what his problem was.

"It's obvious, isn't it?" said Ron, and when Harry shook his head, he continued: "Well, in the middle of the Battle, you somehow came to accept your impending death in about half an hour, a bloody remarkable feat. You let go of your life. And then you walked to what you thought would be the end for you, only it wasn't. Life was thrown back at you. You just haven't figured out how to take it up again."

Harry stared. "That was obvious to you?"

Ron's ears went red and he shrugged a little. "Well, yeah. A bit."

"You have been spending too much time with Hermione."

They were quiet for a minute. Ron made sense. He wasn't really sure how to live anymore. But it wasn't just because he'd let everything go on that walk into the forest. "I guess I just feel like I'm not going towards anything anymore. Instead I'm going away from what was the whole point of my life."

Ron snorted. "Who the bloody hell knows what's the point of anything?"

Harry breathed in the clear summer air. "S'pose you're right."

"Guess we ought to just make it up as we go along, yeah?" Ron asked. "Like writing a Potions essay?"

Harry was surprised to find himself laughing. "Fancy throwing a Quaffle around before it gets dark?"

"I'll kick your sorry arse, you're only good at catching little golden things," said Ron as he headed for the broom shed.

Harry stood up, and he started moving.