Pulling Hermione behind him, Ron raced away from the giant snake that was speeding towards the two. Nagini stared at them with hunger. She wanted to kill the two, get them out of the way. Ron turned around and swung his wand at the disgusting scaled monster and sent a curse at it. As though nothing had happened, Nagini continued forward. Running backwards gave a blindness to where Ron was leading Hermione, causing him to stumble over some of the rumble that had once been Hogwarts. Panic awoke inside of him as the snake rose to its full height and opened its jaw wide. Ron tightened his grasp around Hermione and squeezed her arms in a final embrace. Nagini, now towering over the two, shot forward and-
Ron sat up immediately. He wiped at his forehead, brushing wet and matted hair out of the way to try and ease himself. He looked to his side and saw Hermione sleeping soundly, facing away from him. Looking at his whereabouts, Ron tried to identify where he was. It was difficult to see in the darkness of the room, but he remembered quickly. Number 12 Grimmauld Place. He, Hermione, and Harry had a residency here in the old Black family household with the houself Kreacher, who came and went as he pleased. Yes, somewhere in this house, Harry was asleep in his own bed. He would no longer have nightmares nor dream of Voldemort. Beside him was Ron's girlfriend Hermione. She always slept soundly and never made a noise besides a sigh or soft moan. She was always safe in her dreams. So why wasn't Ron sleeping soundly, too?
Ron lay back down and stared back up at the black mass that was the ceiling. His position was stiff, as if someone were going to wrap him up and carry him away, one person at his head and the other at his feet. Lately, Ron found he was very tense, especially in his shoulders. Sometimes, it hindered him from being able to lift his arms above his head, which was annoying whenever he was getting dressed or fetching something from the top shelf for either Harry or Hermione.
Feeling uneasy about his sleeping position, Ron rolled over and grabbed his wand off the side of the bed. He sat himself up and rubbed his eyes before lifting his wand and muttering, "Lumos." The tip of Ron's wand emitted a small light, equivalent to that of a small flashlight, which allowed him to see just enough of the room to let himself see where he was going. With his wand out in front of him, Ron made his way out of the room. He stopped in the hallway, checking to make sure that Kreacher wasn't roaming the halls. (Ron ran into the elf one night and accidently bumped into him as he was carrying a handful of oddities. He received a string of curse words from Kreacher who continued to mumble terrible things under his breath that Ron couldn't make out.)
Once he was certain that the hall was clear, Ron made his way towards the stairs. He stopped in front of Harry's door, placing an ear against to double-check that he nightmares hadn't returned for his friend. Silence answered. Reassured, Ron made his way down the stairs, pausing after every creak that was made by the step. He finally reached the bottom of the stairs when he noticed a different light near the entrance of the house.
"Nox." The light from Ron's wand went out. He still held his wand out, ready to attack if the light was coming from a stranger. Pausing against the wall that led into the room he had dubbed 'Tree Room' (for the Black family tree in it), Ron took in a deep breath and held it. He listened for a second and heard a sniff. A sniff?
Ron edged around the corner, just enough so that he could see around it, and stared. There, facing the wall, was Harry. His hair was untidy as always and his wand was held up against the wall. His eyes were stained red and tears fell down his face almost endlessly. Unafraid, Ron stepped around the corner to see Harry wipe furiously at his face. He was staring up at the mural and gave another sniff, as well as a soft moan. Ron stood, staring at his friend with a sad face and an ache in his heart. Harry didn't seem to have spotted him yet. He was still staring at, what Ron guessed, was the burnt out face of Sirius Black, Harry's godfather.
It had been two years and six months since the death of Sirius. It made Ron worry about his friend. Perhaps he was still having nightmares. This gave Ron another sad lurch of the heart.
"Harry," Ron said. It was meant to come out as a question rather than a heartbroken mumble. Harry flinched towards Ron, eyes wide and nose still red from his recently halted cry fest. Ron stepped forward. The light in his wand returned so that half of the 'Tree Room' was full of light. Harry swallowed twice before looking away from his friend. He sat against the wall and ran a hand through his hair. A shaky inhale followed after that. From where he stood, Ron could see Harry's hands shaking. Uncertain if he should say something, Ron shifted his weight, back and forth, from one foot to another, before taking a seat next to his best friend. It seemed like ages as the two sat beside one another, listening to Harry's soft sniffs.
"Listen, mate.." Ron started. He shifted uneasily where he sat and didn't mutter another word. Harry shifted himself and his wand weaved its way between his fingers. The light from Harry's wand blinked out, seeing as he wasn't concentrating on it, and he made a coughing noise.
"..You've been having nightmares," Ron said this rather than asking. It was to confirm what Ron had feared, and, with no answer, he knew that it was true.
"I thought they would have ended after..." Harry paused, "Once Voldemort was gone, I thought I could be...normal. I thought that maybe I could.." Ron sat silently, staring hard at his fingers that were tightening their grip on his wand.
"But I can't," continued Harry, "For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to live with these nightmares, these memories.." Harry made a gasping sound and Ron looked up, seeing that his friend was crying again. "I never meant for anyone to die," He choked, "Sirius..Reamus..Fred.." It was Ron's turn to swallow hard. He'd had several dreams where he was staring down at Fred's lifeless body. Blinking at the tears pooling in his eyes, Ron tightened his jaw.
"Harry," Ron started in an exasperated mumble, "Everyone knew what they were getting into. They all died for you and-"
"But no one was supposed to die!" Harry choked out, tears now dripping from his face, "I didn't want anyone to! You all risked your lives for me and now what?"
"Now what?" Ron repeated, sounding a bit angered and hurt, "Harry, Voldemort is gone. You killed him. He's gone and can never hurt anyone again."
"But so many died," Harry shook his head, "It wasn't meant to be like this."
"Listen, mate," Ron started, shifting himself over so that he could stare at his friend, "We all risked everything to save you, yeah, but we did it because we wanted to. We knew what could happen if we got involved. It hurts when you lose someone, but it hurts even more if you linger on regret. You can't go around wishing they hadn't died or else you can never move on. Voldemort is gone, Harry. You - We did it and now everything will go great from here on out." Harry opened his mouth to protest, but he closed it and nodded. Ron sat back down.
"What are your nightmares?" He asked quietly, glancing at his friend from the side. Harry shifted.
"It's always about-"
Harry looked at Ron who was staring blankly at his wand. "I have nightmares about Hogwarts all the time," Ron started, "It's always the same part, too.."
"What part?" Harry asked, surprised that Ron was actually opening up to him. Usually, it seemed that Ron kept everything bottled up inside until it all exploded out of him in an angry monolauge.
"Hermione and I are running from Nagini," Ron said, "Everytime, I feel like I'm going to die..Like it's my last chance to live. I feel so hopeless.. I can't even save Hermione and it angers me. I know I'm not going to die in my dream, but I always feel like..like.." Ron shook his head, unable to express his final thought. He looked at Harry, "What about you, mate?"
"I dunno," Harry said, shaking his head, "I just know that it feels like I can't breathe sometimes. Like a large weight just landed on me and I can't escape it.."
"That's how I feel when Hermione buys clothes for me!" Ron said, leaping forward and smiling at his friend's relation." Harry gave Ron a bewildered look before the two burst into laughter. Their laughter escalated until their sides hurt and their breathing was difficult. They weren't sure what they were laughing at. Ron didn't know himself, but he continued to laugh with his best friend, glad that the subject of their conversation had shifted to something lighter.
The laughter died down between the two, leaving only smiles across their faces. Ron gave a big yawn and Harry followed after him. "Reckon we should, er.. Get back to bed," Ron suggested, "I think I see sunlight outside." Harry looked at his friend and nodded. He was the first to stand, helping Ron up with difficulty since the redhead was taller than him. Quietly, and with smiles still on their faces, Ron and Harry walked out of the 'Tree Room' and up the stairs in Number 12 Grimmauld Place. They ignored the creaking steps and paused in front of Harry's bedroom door to exchange goodnights.
Feeling at ease, Ron went to his room. He opened the door to find that Hermione was up and sitting at the edge of the bed waiting for him. Smiling a bit sheepishly at his girlfriend, Ron made his way over to her and kissed her forehead.
"Where were you?" She asked, turning herself so that she could stare at him, "You were down there for nearly an hour."
"Oh, yeah," Ron started, getting underneath the covers. He leaned against his arm to stare at Hermione as she positioned herself to lay next to him, as well as face him. For once, Ron felt comfortable in a position on his bed that didn't involve being as stiff as a plank. He heaved another large yawn. "Me and Harry were downstairs talking for a while."
"Talking?" Hermione questioned, looking a bit surprised, "About what?"
Ron gave a shrug, "About our nightmares."
"Your nightmares?" Hermione looked taken aback, "How come you never tell me about your nightmares?"
"Hermione, it's different," Ron said in a matter-of-fact tone, "Harry's my best mate. I tell him things that I don't tell you all the time." His eyes widened at what had just fallen out of his mouth and he flipped himself over in the bed. "G'night!" He said in a rather choked voice.
"Ronald Weasley, you tell me what you haven't told me!" Hermione said, climbing over her boyfriend.
"That's just completely off the point, isn't it?" Ron cried, trying to fight Hermione off of him. "Geroff me, Hermione!"
Harry couldn't sleep that night.