Eliza didn’t fail to miss the dull, haunted look in Alexander’s eyes when he walked in the door after the war had ended. She knew the war had to be hard, she wasn’t a native girl like many believed she was, and she knew that there was a chance her husband would never fully recover from everything he went through.
When Alexander Hamilton first walked in the door after the war had ended, his eyes were dull and haunted, tired with dark bags underneath them, and his shoulders slumped with exhaustion and stress. And Eliza knew that she should probably find a book or two on trauma.
“Alexander,” she whispered, pulling off his dirty, bloody uniform jacket. “You must be exhausted, go to bed, I’ll be here when you wake up.” And too out of it to argue, for the first time in his life Alexander nodded, and went to bed.
Eliza woke to movement at sunrise the next morning. It took until Alexander had climbed out of bed, pulled on his uniform, and glanced around the floor for his boots for him to realize that he didn’t need to do that anymore. The war was won, there was no need for uniforms and no need to be up this early anymore. With some encouragement from Eliza, Alexander took his uniform back off, climbed back into bed, and drifted off to sleep in the warmth of his bed and wife.
The next week was hard. Eliza watched as Alexander rationed the food she gave him, eating only a third of it before tucking the rest of it away for later. It took a while each day to get him to eat the rest of it, with Eliza telling him that he didn’t need to do that anymore, they had plenty of food. He was too skinny, all of the soldiers were. He wandered around the house, as if he was looking for something or someone, and Eliza didn’t know what to do except let him be. It wasn’t until the end of that first week that Alexander had his first nightmare.
She woke up to him screaming, and thrashing around, yelling out words she didn’t understand.
“Alexander!” She called. “Alexander! Wake up!” He let out a gasp when he did, then glanced at Eliza with glossed over eyes.
“Betsey!” He gasped. “What are you doing here! You have to leave, you could get hurt out here!” A battle, Eliza had concluded. He was having a nightmare, and possibly a flashback, about a battle he’d been through.
“It’s ok,” she soothed. “You’re home, whatever you’re seeing isn’t there.” It took another hour for him to settle down enough to fall back asleep. It took Eliza two.
When Philip was born Alexander seemed to get better. The sight of the baby pulled him out of his worse flashbacks, and he actually smiled around the child, a rare sight for the Hamilton family.
“Oh Phillip,” he said. “You’ll come to age with our young nation, and I know you’ll blow everyone away.” And Eliza smiled, this was the happiest she’s been her husband for a while.
But then they got word that John had died.
Alexander buried himself in his work. His nightmares came back, but this time they were of John, and him dying while Alexander was just out of reach. Even Philip could sense something was wrong, but for once the baby couldn’t coax a smile out of his father.
“Alexander,” Eliza said. “Please come out, we can get through this together.” And when Philip had said his first word, Alexander was there to witness it, his eyes slightly lighter than before.
When Eliza met George Washington she noticed his eyes were as haunted as Alexander’s, but they seemed to light up when he saw her husband. Picking up Phillip, Eliza left the room. Those two needed each other, and they needed to talk without her in the room.
“Treasury?” She asked once he told her later. And he smiled, proud, and happy, for what seemed like the first time since the war had ended.
“Yes,” he answered. “The country needs me, so I accepted.” And Eliza smiled.
“I think you’ll do excellent,” she replied.
On July fourth, the Hamilton family went out to a hill to watch the first fireworks display of many. It was to celebrate their independent, and Alexander was excited to go, to see all that he helped fight for be celebrated. But then the first firework went off, and his eyes dulled.
A flashback, Eliza realized.
“It’s ok!” She cried. “Whatever you’re seeing isn’t real!” And as she dragged Alexander back home, Eliza cussed out the war and everything that it had done to her husband.
Thomas Jefferson would say he wasn’t on good terms with Alexander Hamilton. But when he saw him freeze up when it started to rain during a debate, he couldn’t help but get a little worried.
The concern only increased when thunder echoed across the sky, and both Hamilton and Washington froze.
“Your Excellency,” Hamilton mumbled. Washington reached for his hand.
“It’s ok,” he whispered. “It’s just thunder, it can’t hurt us.” But as the storm went on, up to the point where the two were ducking under the table to take cover from the cannons they were mumbling about, Thomas couldn’t help but feel bad. War sucked, he’d never experienced one, but he knew from horror stories that it was not a game.
Thomas cussed out the war and everything it did to Hamilton and his Excellency as he tried to calm the two. And while he did, he didn’t fail to miss the dull, haunted look in their eyes.
Thomas knew they would probably never fully recover from this. Not fully at least.