A Night at the Burrow: A Fan Short
A/N: This is a small interlude I wrote from the "Nightmares of Futures Past" world by S'tarKan. Bloody wonderful fic, and if you're reading this than you must agree. (Because honestly, who else but fans would trouble themselves with this oneshot.) When reading the fic I was struck with this idea and it wouldn't leave me alone. Harry has had some bad dreams, but he usually wakes up screaming, not crying. However, one night he did. What would Ron's reaction be if he heard? Indeed, the structure of the plot makes me wonder if Ron might have. This is my take on what might have happened that night. Published with author's permission. Thanks S'tarKan for your advice.
Context: Sometime during chapter 15, not long after Harry moves in with the Weasleys.
Ron's mind slowly emerged from sleep, it was a hazy journey and not one he was sure he wanted to be taking. It was summer and a faint breeze was blowing across his face in a most gentle manner. Almost like how his mother's hand had toyed with his hair when he'd been little and unable to sleep. Being in his own room, in his own familiar bed, it would be rather easy to go back to sleep. But for some reason a part of him seemed to be prodding him, telling him he needed to wake up. After a moment his mind cleared a bit and he was able to realize that it had been a noise which had pulled him out of his sleep. And it wasn't a night sound he was familiar with.
When one spent most of the year sharing a dormitory with four other boys, well one became accustomed to sounds that could wake you in the middle of the night. Neville had a soft puttering snore, Dean sometimes talked in his sleep and Seamus would almost always wake up around 2 a.m for a drink of water from the bathroom faucet. Ron had been told that he snored, he didn't believe it. Harry's bed was always silent; oddly enough this lack of noise seemed to bother Ron more than any of the other sounds. The youngest Weasley boy knew full well that Harry's silence was made by spells and hid the nightmares his friend seemed to wrestle with nightly. Even still, it wasn't unusual for Ron to occasionally wake in the early hours of the morning to see Harry's thin silhouette leaving their room.
Now, since Harry had come to live with them, he'd been sharing a room with the raven haired boy sans silencing charms. Their first night as 'roomies', the previous evening, he'd awoken to find his bed rattling as if a giant had seized the Burrow and was shaking it like a tambourine. Indeed it had taken a moment for the startled red head to realize that wasn't the case. When he'd finally shaken the cotton out of his skull, he'd jumped into action. Ron had jostled Harry awake only—but Harry's eyes had burst open at the lightest touch, the green orbs glowing with power. But while that power had been somewhat intimidating, Ron hadn't even considered backing away. The look of terror had filled him with concern. When Harry had reluctantly, and furiously, revealed the contents of his nightmare, Ron had been at a complete loss. The Burrow burning to the ground? His Mum still inside? That was a terrible, impossible dream. Why did Harry dream those things? Was he really so paranoid that he'd worry about the safety of the Burrow? Ron knew Harry was careful, and perhaps with good reason…but why would he dream those things? Sure, perhaps Hogwarts was dangerous but this was the Burrow.
Still, it had taken him a little longer than usual to fall back asleep that night.
The next day, under the comforting brightness of the sun, Ron had managed to let go of Harry's fears. He was able to brush them off as some sort of lingering badness. Harry had been given a tough life, the murder of his parents, living with those monstrous muggles, being attacked by Slytherins and You-Know-Who. Perhaps it was no wonder Harry had those kinds of dreams about his new home. But nothing bad would happen here.
Still, this clearer mind made Ron, for the first time, really worry about Harry.
No that wasn't right, he'd indeed worried over his friend's physical safety many times before. Indeed it could be said that worrying about Harry was a hobby that he, Hermione and Neville had all picked up over their first year of Hogwarts. During the year they worried about Slytherins attacking, both the student and teacher variety. During the summer Ron's own particular concern had sparked his and the twins' rescue mission. But now this worry was very different. Ron found himself wondering if his best mate was, in fact, 'alright' as the young man claimed. Perhaps there was damage deeper than you could see.
Not that Harry didn't have a good reason for it, Ron's mind was quick to add that detail. After finding Harry on that bed at the Dursleys…Merlin he'd never forget that for as long as he lived. Seeing Harry on the bed, so bent and broken. Well, ever since finding Harry there, something about his view had changed. When Harry had managed to take on Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle on the Express, Ron had looked up to his new mate as pretty near unbeatable. The Boy Who Lived was legend after all and Harry Potter lived up to the name. Then on Halloween Harry had managed to kill a fully grown mountain troll. That same night his mother's lecture had explained, very loudly, that most adult wizards couldn't have handled a situation like that. Course, Mum hadn't exactly been proud. But Harry had managed, coming out with only a broken arm. He'd even been in good enough spirits to joke with the twins the next day, even though he had nearly died. The thought of Harry nearly dying had been enough to keep Ron up sleepless, yet it didn't seem to trouble Harry. Yep, his friend was pretty amazing.
But to see him lying on that bed, you'd never think that Harry Potter was unbreakable ever again. He had lied there so still, so swollen and purple with bruises. His voice had been whisper soft and scratchy as sand paper when he'd asked for water. The pleading tone as he asked for something to drink had nearly brought Ron to his knees. When he had noticed a scrap of cloth in his friend's hand he had wondered for a moment until he recognized the scarf Ginny had made Harry for Christmas. He was forced to look away when he realized Harry had been clutching to the poorly knitted gift like it was a lifeline.
But then Harry had seemed fine.
When he and Ginny had finally managed to work their way into Harry's hospital room, the young man had been seated up in bed smiling and cracking jokes. And it hadn't been fake cheerfulness either. Ron might not be an expert when it came to emotional stuff, Hermione would be first in line to agree to that statement. But he thought he knew his friend well enough to know when he was faking. Ginny seemed to know the real Harry too. Although how she could from a few ruddy letters was beyond him.
What had surprised him the most had been Harry's rational outlook on everything. Ron hadn't expected that. Sitting at the Burrow, the floo powder locked away, there wasn't much else to do except sit around and worry over how Harry was doing. He'd tried guessing how his friend would be feeling, and he'd been hard pressed to settle on what Harry's mood would be. So, he'd settled on trying to figure out how he'd feel if it had been him lying on that bed. Ron had a hard time putting himself in Harry's place but he was pretty sure he'd be utterly pissed at the unfairness of it all. But Harry's cool logical assessment had been a surprise. And while it hadn't been expected, Ron found he'd been oddly relieved. This was the Harry he was used to. Harry was strong.
Which was why he hated wondering if there was something more the matter with his friend. He didn't even want to think the words, didn't even want to consider if something was perhaps…well, if his friend was a little loopy. He felt like a traitor for even considering it. But those nightmares couldn't be normal. And while Harry seemed to find being normal an impossibility…just maybe there was something wrong with his friend. But Ron tried to banish those thoughts away. He told himself it was loyalty, real friends wouldn't think that. Gryffindors wouldn't turn on their own like that. But some part of him knew it was also avoidance. He didn't want to face that sort of problem. Being Harry's friend had meant facing things quicker than he'd have expected but he didn't think he was quite ready to handle that. And while they might be new to him, Harry had parents now. Maybe it wasn't official or anything but surely his Mum and Dad would help Harry if he needed help, right?
But now it was the second night they'd shared a room, with no silencing charms to block out the noises Harry made. And Ron had awoken to a strange noise, one which he had never heard in the night before. In the bed across from his, Ron heard Harry crying. But it wasn't crying exactly, or at least not like anything Ron would consider crying. There was such a primal quality to it, such a deep deep sadness. The noise seemed to fill their small room up with misery.
Lying awake listening to the sobs that racked Harry's body, Ron came across a clear bit of knowledge about himself and his life. He was very lucky; he'd never known this kind of emotion before. Oh Ron had cried, he wouldn't exactly publish that information for all of Hogwarts to read, but he remembered crying well…like a baby when he was little. He'd cried when the twins had played a particularly cruel trick involving his favorite bear and a spider. He'd really cried when he'd fallen off a broom and broke his arm, he must have cried during his entire time at St. Mungos, perhaps even after the healer had mended his arm. He But he'd never cried like Harry was crying. The noise coming from Harry was more painful than crying, the word didn't even begin to describe the flood of pain that was seeping from his friend.
And in the face of this brokenness Ron found himself frozen. He thought he knew what he should do, this was the time you offered comfort right? At the very least he should ask him what was wrong or tell him it would be okay. But somehow Ron couldn't do any of this. He was ashamed to say that he couldn't face this vicious outpouring of emotion. He lied there selfishly wishing that he hadn't woken up. He wasn't old enough to understand this sort of grief.
Grief was the word for what this was. Ron had heard the word before; it was a word that in his mind had come to mean his uncles Fabian and Gideon. It was the reason he didn't ask his Mum about them, even though he'd been somewhat curious about them, how they had died. It was the reason his own twin brothers, whose names also began with F and G, would occasionally bring a wispy sort of sadness to his mother's eyes, a sadness which had nothing to do with their dreadful grades. There were some things that families didn't mention. Not because they forgot, but because they remembered and the remembering seemed to hurt. Not that Ron could remember his long dead uncles, but he could taste traces of the pain their passing had left. Once, when he was little, his mother had been cleaning their house and had stumbled upon a thick winter robe buried in the bottom of their coat closet, the initials GTP were stitched along the inside collar with a distinctive flourish Ron knew to be his Mum's. She had held the thick material to her face and wept from someplace deep inside. The noise had come more from her gut than her throat. Ron, five or six at the time, had hid in his room. It had scared him then.
And strangely, as soon as he named it and knew it, Ron thought it seemed like Harry's sobs began to slacken. He continued to listen to Harry's ragged breathing for a moment, wondering if he could talk to his friend now. But whatever Harry had just experienced seemed so personal and separate than anything Ron had experienced. Should he say something? He wanted to help his friend but he'd suddenly been confronted with the realization that whatever Harry's demons were, they weren't something Ron had ever touched upon.
In the darkened room Ron bit his lip as he watched Harry shakily rise to his feet and move towards the door. Now was the time to say something, if there was anything to be said. But somehow, lying in his bed in the dark, Ron couldn't get up the courage to say—not a word, not a single word.
Soon Harry was gone. Ron could barely hear Harry's footsteps as his best mate stealthily slipped down the stairs.
His moment had left. Ron lied on his small bed and found himself filled with an odd feeling of disappointment. He turned onto his side, punching his pillow viciously and stared into the wall. He'd been a coward and he'd let Harry down.
Ron knew he'd failed the one motto Harry had taught him. Gryffindors look out for their own. And as he glared into the dark he became consumed with a determination to never let Harry down again. He didn't know what sort of person he'd have become if he'd never met Harry Potter that day on the train. He didn't want to know. And he might have been weak tonight, but this would be the last night.
Filled with this sense of focus, a sort he'd never felt before, Ron came to another insight. Whatever was the matter with Harry, his friend wasn't crazy. There had to be something real for Harry to suffer so. Ron didn't know what it was, but it was real.
Somehow Ron Weasley fell asleep again that night. He awoke to find Harry's bed still empty. His jaw tightened with concern and he wondered how to ask the questions he needed to ask. He wasn't as afraid anymore. Somehow he had put that part of him away, folded up like an old blanket.
He closed the door with steady hands, leaving another piece of his childhood in the room behind him.
Hope the other fans enjoyed this bit of reflection. Review if you would, I appreciate any chance to improve my writing.