Seamus knew Dean had a tough year. He actually spent every minute of the past months at school worrying about his boyfriend and whether or not he'd survive this war. He was unbelievably relieved to see him alive and well before the start of the Battle. Unable to refrain himself, he pulled Dean in his arms as soon as he arrived. He felt his boyfriend tense up a little at the gesture at first, then Dean seemed to relax into him. Seamus was concerned by the fact Dean wanted to fight despite not having a wand, but he could see his boyfriend was worried about him too. After all, Seamus was hard to recognize with all the bruises on his face, he seemed much worse off than Dean. If only appearances told the whole story, they would've looked much different.
Seamus had more injuries and it took several weeks for his face to heal, but all of that was physical. By the time summer arrived, Seamus was back to his old self, no trace of the war left on him. Dean, however, was a completely different story. He may have appeared completely fine and not very hurt when he showed up for the Battle, but once again, that was all physical, all appearance. Dean's injuries were much less visible, and much more difficult to deal with.
When they were first reunited, Seamus noticed the bags under Dean's eyes and how exhausted he looked, but he attributed it to a year spent on the run and didn't let it spoil the joy he felt of seeing him again after missing him so much. They got separated during the Battle, but every time he saw him, Dean was doing great. Seamus had no idea how he even got a wand, but he was very impressed by his boyfriend's skills. When the Battle ended and they were both still alive, Seamus thought they could be happy together finally. All of this horror was over and they could move on and forget about it all. It wasn't so easy.
As they sat in the Great Hall with Aberforth, rejoicing in their victory, Seamus noticed that Dean was jumpy. He stopped everything and looked around nervously at every sudden noise. Seamus thought it was temporary, a thing that happened in the aftermath of being on the run for months, some fresh air and time away would take care of it. Seamus brought his boyfriend home to Ireland after assuring the Thomas family he would take care of him. Dean was safe now, and certainly that fear and nervousness would go away soon. It didn't.
Dean didn't sleep. Seamus was often woken up a few hours after they'd gone to bed, by his boyfriend jumping up, in sweats from a nightmare he'd just had. Seamus tried to comfort him, tried to reassure him and help him go back to sleep, but nothing worked. He ended up spending his nights in the kitchen and Seamus was left in bed alone.
Fred Weasley's funeral was held a week after the Battle. They had planned to attend, but Dean hadn't slept all week. He looked terrible, and was highly irritable. He clearly could barely handle himself and kept getting angry at everything, Seamus in particular. There was no way he could go anywhere near a crowd. He still wanted to go though. He kept repeating how he didn't want to let his friends down, that Luna needed him there, that he had to show support to his ex-girlfriend and that he hadn't seen Neville, Harry, Ron and Hermione in forever. In the end, Seamus had to stay home too to keep him company and make sure he wouldn't go and cause more pain to everyone in this difficult day.
Dean sulked for days. He spent his days laying on the couch, barely eating. When Seamus got back from Remus and Tonks' funeral, he found a pile of unopened letters addressed to Dean hidden under their bed. Seamus had talked to Neville and Luna over the weekend so they knew what was going on now, but the fact his boyfriend closed himself off like this worried him. He didn't feel comfortable leaving him too long.
Unfortunately, three weeks after the Battle, Seamus had to go back to Hogwarts for a whole week to take his N.E.W.T.s. His parents assured him they would take good care of Dean while he was gone. Dean couldn't go as he hadn't been able to attend classes all year.
McGonagall assembled them all in the Transfiguration classroom to give them explanations on how the examinations would work, it turned out to be very similar to the way O.W.L.s did. The Great Hall was usually were exams were held, but it currently served as headquarters for the volunteers repairing the castle and they couldn't use it. However, with about a third of their class missing, they could easily do with smaller spaces.
All of the muggleborns, like Hermione, had missed the school year and therefore couldn't take their exams yet. They would have to come back in September to do their seventh year if they wanted to take them. Harry and Ron had been given an exemption by Kingsley Shacklebolt and would be able to become Aurors without sitting their exams. Neville was given that option as well, but, as he wasn't interested in that particular career, he decided to try passing his N.E.W.T.s. Seamus was sharing their dormitory with only Neville and Charlie and it felt a little awkward. The other two boys had been staying there for weeks now and had clearly gotten used to being alone.
In any way, Seamus was glad to have a friend going through this with him. Parvati was there as well, sitting with her sister among the other Ravenclaws. She seemed really sad, but that had to be because her best friend, Lavender, had just died three weeks ago. He recognized three Hufflepuffs from the D.A., Hannah, Susan and Ernie, and three Ravenclaws, Terry, Michael and Anthony. Of all the Slytherins, only two were missing, including Crabbe who had died during the Battle. In total, there were 26 students back for the examinations.
"Those of you who fail can try again next year if you wish, that also goes for your fellow classmates who didn't join us today, but were here throughout the year to take classes." McGonagall started explaining how they would proceed.
"Blaise, have you heard from Theo at all?" Draco Malfoy whispered.
"Just send him an owl if you're so worried. I know he'd be relieved to hear from you." Goyle sounded exasperated.
The Slytherins didn't appear as close-knitted a group as they used to be, though Seamus had no idea what had happened. However, it didn't stop them from commenting on Seamus' still badly bruised face, he was only starting to look recognisable, thanks to his mother's healing spells.
Taking all of their N.E.W.T.s in only a week was very demanding and, by the end of it, they were all exhausted, but glad it was over. Seamus still stayed one more day so he could spend time with Neville and Charlie. He had missed just hanging out and having some fun. Sure, they worked on the repairs, but they had nothing to worry about and they laughed profusely while doing it. Charlie had left Hogwarts before they started and Seamus had only met him briefly before. He enjoyed getting to know him.
"Seamus, you're back. How did it go?" Mrs Finnigan asked her son as soon as he stepped inside the house on Sunday morning.
"Good, I think. How were things here?" Seamus threw a look toward the couch. He was both relieved and worried to see it empty. Dean not being on it could be an improvement, but the fact he wasn't here to greet Seamus wasn't a good sign.
"I think you need to bring Dean back home to his family, maybe it would do him good. He needs help and we can't provide it. Sometimes I think St Mungo's might be the best place for him."
"Did something happen?"
"He keeps thinking people are after him. I know he's been on the run for months and had to constantly be vigilant, but he's safe now and instead of getting better, he's getting worse. He jumps up whenever someone knocks at the door. He went into a panic the other day when he couldn't find his wand, he made a huge mess of the house. Your boyfriend scares me, Seamus. I'm afraid if it keeps going like this, he might hurt someone, or himself."
"So, you're kicking him out, are you?"
"No, he can stay as long as he wants. I'm only suggesting an option that might be better for him."
"Alright. Where is he?"
They were at Dean's home two days later. The whole family were happy to see them, and glad to finally meet Seamus, who they'd heard a lot about over the years. Of course, Dean didn't get better due to a simple change of scenery. He kept having nightmares and being jumpy constantly. He had gotten very irritable due to the lack of sleep as well. He had trouble sleeping at night, but got sleepy enough to manage it during the day sometimes. Dean was asleep one afternoon when his mother sat down at the kitchen table with Seamus.
"How are you doing, Seamus?"
"I'm fine, Mrs Thomas. Honestly, I'm a little tired, but I'm doing alright."
"I see you trying to take care of my son, it can't have been easy on you."
"It hasn't been, but I don't have a choice, I'm in love with him. But I don't know what to do anymore. He needs more help than I can give him. I don't want to have to bring him to St Mungo's, but I don't see any other options at this point. He hasn't gotten any better."
"Have you considered trying muggle treatments? As far as I can see, he doesn't have anything magical. Looks more like PTSD to me."
"What is that?"
"Post-traumatic stress disorder. A lot of soldier who come back from war have it. Dean has been on the run for months trying to stay alive. It fits."
"So, you think we should bring him to a muggle doctor?"
"I do. I can call to make an appointment with ours if you want."
"It would be great if you don't mind. I'm not really familiar with how the muggle world works. I've used a phone before, my dad's a muggle, but it would still be easier if you did it."
"That's no problem. We both want the same thing. For Dean to get better."
Seamus smiled and she left to make the call. Three weeks later, Dean had been diagnosed with PTSD, was on medication and was seeing a therapist. He still had trouble sleeping and was having nightmares, but his overall mood had improved. Seamus was relieved. They had found a way to help the man he loved. And while Dean still had a long way to go, and probably other meds to try before finding the one that suited him best, Seamus wasn't watching him get worse while feeling useless anymore.
As June came to an end, so did Seamus and Dean's time together. Dean came up to him one afternoon and told him he needed some time on his own, that he needed to figure things out by himself. Seamus was taken aback. He had not expected that. He tried to convince Dean, they had been apart for so long and had been through so much, didn't they need each other more than ever? However, he realized this was a hard decision for Dean, who could barely say more without his voice cracking, and he decided to go with it. If it was what Dean wanted, what he needed to be happy again, then Seamus would leave. He would give Dean anything he asked for in the end.
Seamus didn't know where to go from there. He went home, but beyond that he had no clue. He was lost. He had spent the past year worried to lose Dean, worried his boyfriend would die and his heart would be broken. And there he was, Dean alive and on track to get better, but he was heartbroken nonetheless. He hadn't been prepared for that.
He spent a good part of July wallowing, growing lonely and frustrated. Everybody else was busy, and not in Ireland. He exchanged letters with several of his friends, though Dean didn't answer him any more than he had done anyone else so far, but it wasn't the same as being around people. He was also looking for a job, but it left him with quite a lot of free time. As days went by, his sadness softened, but his anger grew stronger. After everything he'd done, everything he'd gone through, how could he end up alone and so far away from his friends? The most painful part was the feeling that if he and Dean had never crossed that line into romance, they would probably still be hanging around each other, staying together through everything, because they were best friends and nothing could get between them.
The first day of August, Seamus decided he had enough of being alone. And if he couldn't do anything about Dean not replying to letters, because he wanted time apart, nothing stopped Seamus from showing up at the Burrow to visit Ginny. They had hung out together a lot while she was dating Dean and they'd become good friends. He had stopped writing to her in May as he had a lot on his mind with Dean and the N.E.W.T.s, and she hadn't written back even once anyway.
Mr and Mrs Weasley were surprised when they opened the door and saw Seamus standing there. They weren't expecting any visitors. It was clear they had hoped one of their sons would've finally come by, but they were still very nice and welcoming, like always happy to have any friends of their children over. It was Seamus' first time at the Burrow and it didn't look like he had thought it would, though the conflicting descriptions of it from Ron, who kept saying it wasn't much and mostly messy, and Harry, who told everyone repeatedly how awesome it was, made it hard to build a visual image. He found it to be quite cosy. There was a bit of a mess, yes, but it was more the kind that made you feel like people actually lived there, none of the artificial cleanliness you saw everywhere you were expected.
"Hi, I'm Seamus, I go to school with Ron. Is Ginny here? I thought I'd stop by for a visit."
"Oh, what a wonderful idea. Yes, she's in her room on the first floor. Some company will be great for her," Mrs Weasley said.
Seamus thanked her and climbed the stairs up to the first floor. There was no answer when he knocked on the door, so he did again and asked if he could come in. He heard her jump up as she exclaimed, "Seamus?" then ran to the door to open it.
"I didn't know you were coming."
"Does that mean you actually open letters?"
"I did, but no one writes me anymore, including you. I don't blame you though, must be annoying writing to someone and never getting an answer."
They walked over to the bed and sat.
"It mostly makes it hard to keep up a conversation. And it worried us. But I'm glad to know you at least read our letters, Dean left them all unopened on the floor."
"Oh, I wondered why I hadn't received anything from him. Is he alright?"
"He really worried me for a while, but he's doing better now. The muggles diagnosed him with a thing called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They have him on some medication and he goes to therapy."
"Why didn't he come with you?"
"He kind of broke up with me, said he needed time to deal with all this on his own."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"Don't be, I'll be fine, as long as he's happy. You don't seem to be doing great though."
"I've been struggling, but I'm getting a little better. I have a month to get myself back together enough for school, I'm working on it."
"Yeah, I wish I still had Hogwarts to look forward to, at least I'd know what to do. I passed my N.E.W.T.s, but I'm not sure what kind of job I want. I applied to some and never heard back."
"Um. Wait, I heard Bill mention Gringotts was looking for curse-breakers in Egypt. Several people stopped working there during the war and they're not all going back. I think you'd like that."
"Curse-breaking, yeah, that sounds like something I'd enjoy. That's a great idea. Thanks, Ginny."
"No problem, I'll write to my brother, he can put in a good word for you."
Seamus stayed at the Burrow for two days hanging out with Ginny. None of the boys were there so there was plenty of empty beds. When he left, he wished good luck to Ginny for her apparating test and she wished him the same for the curse-breaker job.
It took almost a month, but he got it. Seamus left Ireland at the end of August. He enjoyed Egypt and the work was exciting. Ginny knew him well, she had been right to think he would make a good curse-breaker. He had no idea why he had never thought of it before. There was nothing quite like the feeling of working on a curse for a while and finally breaking it, even better if something exploded in the process. He made new friends, had a few hook ups with guys. He didn't miss home at all, he only missed Dean.
Seamus went back home for the holidays. He spent a few days with his family, then left on Christmas day. Harry and Draco had invited a whole bunch of people for dinner and he thought it would be nice to see everyone again before going back to Egypt. He arrived in the late afternoon. As soon as the door started to open, he could hear the sounds of laughter and conversation coming from the dining room. He entered and only then did he notice who had come to answer the doorbell. Dean was standing in front of him and he looked better than he had seen him in a long time. They hadn't seen or written to each other since Dean said he needed space. Seamus was glad to see him well enough to partake in a social gathering such as this.
He smiled. He had missed Dean so much.