Nineteen Years: What the Epilogue Doesn’t Say
“Nineteen Years Later” is fast approaching, but though all may be well, the past 19 years are hardly likely to have been as blissful for Harry as the moments he shares with his family at King’s Cross. Before we celebrate, I would like to take a moment to imagine what the epilogue does not say.
Happiness would come, Harry thought, but at the moment it was muffled by exhaustion, and the pain of losing Fred and Lupin and Tonks pierced him like a physical wound every few steps” (DH 746).
On the day the war ended, Harry slept through the morning and woke at twilight to find he couldn’t breathe. Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Colin… The names slammed into him one by one – 50 bricks dropped onto his stomach from a great height – and their weight pinned him to his bed. With every empty gasp, a sharp pain flared in his sides; he felt as though he were sinking into darkness until somehow, not knowing what else to do, he fell asleep again. Even years later, as it became easier to breathe, he’d lie awake at night once in awhile with that same heaviness in his chest.
On the second night, his dreams were filled with flashing lights, drawn-out screams, cries of grief, and high, cold laughter. He woke with limbs shaking, his heart racing so rapidly it hurt. He jumped out of bed and paced the room, clutching at the locket chain tight around his throat, until Neville gripped his arms and steered him back to his bed. On other nights he would be engulfed by jets of green light, or by a rising sea of burning gold, or by towering tongues of Fiendfyre. Thankfully, nights like those soon became few and far between, but every now and then, after a particularly dangerous shift with the Aurors, they’d return.
The days of funerals that followed were the hardest to endure, but he attended as many as he could manage. Many of the dead were students he’d never gotten to know in his years at Hogwarts. It was yet another dull blow to the stomach to realize how dreadfully young they had been – how dreadfully young he himself was – to have gone through and given up so much. The realization left him reeling. And for too long, he couldn’t look any of the Weasleys in the eye.
The months he’d been on the run had been so agitated and restless, the recent battle so furious and confusing, that it was only once the dust had settled that Harry could feel the weight of everything he’d been through. The devastation he’d seen, the pain he’d endured, and the death he’d so narrowly avoided never truly left him.
The first time he held his baby godson in his arms, the rush of affection he felt was immediately dampened by the memory of Teddy’s parents’ funeral just hours before. On the eve of his wedding, as he lay awake at night dwelling on how unimaginably happy Ginny made him, his thoughts inevitably strayed to the fact that he’d never expected to live long enough to be this happy, or that one of Ginny’s brothers wouldn’t be there to celebrate with them. The joy of every holiday he celebrated with his family was always accompanied by visits to the graves of those family members they’d lost. When James Sirius turned 11, Harry remembered with a pang that at age 11, Ginny had been possessed by Lord Voldemort for months, while he himself had nearly died to defeat him. As his children grew older, Harry sometimes looked at them and remembered everything he and his friends had faced at their age – the Basilisk, Dementors, Death Eaters, and all kinds of strange and devastating magic – and could only hope his children would never endure what their parents had.
And now, as he sends his second son off to Hogwarts, 19 years later his fingers still find the ancient scar on his forehead, and his thoughts stray once again to everything that scar represented. “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” He was happy, his family would be happy, and that was certain. But even though it could pain him no longer, Voldemort’s mark would never completely fade.
MuggleNet Live! 2017: Nineteen Years Later, the most epic Potter party of the year, is tomorrow! We would LOVE to meet you in Orlando for an amazing Potter fandom experience! Check out our website for details about the magical evening we have planned with the awesome talent from the Potter films!