An important (and I am sorry to say long winded) aside:
I never really intended to write this story. In fact, I tried hard not to write it. You see, I feared that it was irreverent to mix fantasy, like Harry Potter, with the emotionally charged history of real life war - in this case the Falklands War, which I chose simply because it occurred at a plausible time given the time-line of Harry Potter. I didn't think I would ever post this, or could ever, which was why I tried so hard not to write it, but the story came out anyway. For even while researching the Falkland's War and telling myself I wouldn't write the story, it just felt meant to be. This story had always started with underlying themes of suicide, and imagine my surprise and horror when I found out the very war that fit the time line was controversial in the fact that research estimated that more people died from suicide after the conflict than died in battle. But suicide, Whitetail ... why suicide, you ask?
Well, it began a year ago, a cold winter morning. A friend of mine came to me to say that her boyfriend - who was in the military and had returned from being overseas - had shot himself. I was to keep it quiet. I was the only one she told, and I had to go to classes in a haze, wondering what on earth just happened. This was someone I knew - albeit not well, but after this I needed to understand. I needed to see why he did this (and I could to some degree, I'd been bullied badly as a child ... but this was a different sort of war). So I became a soldier in my mind, throwing an imaginary character I knew and cared for into the place I could never go. I explored it. I lived it, I breathed it for months. I dreamt it. I had to see why ...
And even when it was finished I never thought that I could post this story because I feared people would think it was too different ... too absurd to throw together real wars and Harry Potter characters. But like all pieces of art - good or bad - they are never meant to gather dust. They are meant to be seen, critiqued ... explored. I don't promise it to be perfectly accurate factually and historically (in fact I don't mean it to be entirely), but I did my best and tried at the very least to make it feel even a tiny bit like how it might have been to go through something like that. So here it is. Here's For Valour, and I hope it is the story that at least one person needs to read, because it was the one I needed to write.
I would also like to dedicate this story to all those who have taken their own lives because of war, soldiers and civilians alike.