He didn’t care how they would explain it away. He didn’t care that it had been preordained or that it had been his ‘destiny.’ He didn’t even care that it had really and truly been self-defense. Truth be told, he found that he didn’t care about much of anything anymore. Looking over the destruction left behind. What had been the Forbidden Forest was now blasted mostly to the ground, the corpses of centaurs and Aragog and his children lying where they had fallen defending their homes. The lake itself had been boiled in Voldemort’s final spell, exploding into liquid fire and taking many of those near its shores with it; the giant squid and the merpeople had probably been incinerated relatively quickly, a small mercy that escaped his eyes in the face of what was left. Here and there people were picking themselves up but far too many remained still, unmoving. He turned his back and started to walk, away from the destruction and the pain, away from the stares mixed with hope and fear in equal measures, away from expectations and fame and life. He didn’t know where he was going, but he walked.
Later, as the Ministry tallied up the dead and the papers reported them to the public at large, people would turn to each other in the streets, strangers would glance at each other in restaurants and cafes, crowds would huddle together on street corners, rejoicing that it was over, that life could now return to normal, but always wondering, looking for a name that never appeared. Later, as children returned to schools and parents returned to work, they would forget that anything had ever existed before this. Later, as families mourned loved ones lost and cherished those whose lives had been spared, there were some who did not join in any of it, some who lived with an unanswerable question. Later, much, much later, the stories would be told to children by parents, students by teachers, and the listeners would always ask “But what happened then? Did Harry live happily ever after?” And there was no answer.