Hi, Emma. I can see the parameters of the Milestone Moment Challenge in the lines of your story. I’m glad you posted it anyway, even though it missed the deadline for that challenge.
You present a cranky, sleep-deprived Harry in this story, so I re-read the final pages of the chapter The Flaw In The Plan, to see how JKR depicted his mental state in the hours after the final battle. Her account ends at about noon on the morning of Voldemort’s defeat, so everything that happened after that is fair game for the fanfiction writer.
Your story depicts Harry as thinking ,….it was over, in one moment.” We can assume that his mind has been so focused, for so long, on the defeat of Voldemort, that after that goal was achieved his thoughts would be just a disoriented jumble. He would not yet have had the time or leisure to realize that it’s not really the end; they must mourn and bury the dead, deal with the remaining Death Eaters, repair the castle, restructure the Ministry, and rebuild families and the social order in general.
He needs to come to some sort of resolution about his role in these historic events, but he has not done that yet. In your story, Harry persists in the fiction that this was all about him. He thinks ”…they had died for him. If he had gone straight to Voldemort when he had been called, they wouldn’t all have died. They shouldn’t have had to do this just for him.” No, Voldemort began his murderous rise to power long before Harry was even born. And Harry’s earlier death would not have aborted Voldemort’s reign of terror. If Harry had “died” earlier, the diadem Horcrux would not have been destroyed (because Harry was the only one who knew where it was), and Voldemort would have survived. In truth, the noble dead died for the whole wizarding community (and wider society as well), not just for Harry.
You do well in pointing out the contradiction of feeling both happy (Voldemort defeated) and sad (friends and family dead) at the same time, but also identifying “relief” as the one emotion that everyone can agree upon.
As for the focus of the Milestone Moment Challenge, the party, I was hesitant about how likely it was that all those people would still be present at the castle by the evening of May 2. My question was whether most of the students’ parents wouldn’t have taken their children away from that scene of destruction and violence and returned home? And I wondered how likely it was that there would be a jubilant party so soon after those horrific events. I discussed these points with my daughter Elaine (Islastorm of Gryffindor); she suggested that a boozy revelry might be credible for people suffering from PTSD.
In the final moments of the story, Ginny says to Harry, ”You’re just going to have water? C’mon, have some fun,” as she fill his glass with firewhiskey. It makes me feel sad that she equates “drinking alcohol” with “having fun” (though I should cut her some slack, because she’s only sixteen years old). In his fragile emotional state, Harry is definitely not going to solve his problems with alcohol. Is it really impossible to have fun while remaining sober?
Your writing style is good, sentences well-constructed, good word choices, the pace brisk, a good balance of action and reflection. This is a complex subject, and a lot more could be written about the psychological aftermath of the battle than would ever fit into a one-shot. Nice job.
I sometimes think that Harry thinks too much.
Author's Response: You're too right. :)