It was dark and quiet in the Burrow that night. The house seemed peaceful and still, gentle snores of its inhabitants bouncing off the walls.
A figure's shadow rippled through the moonlight. His glasses reflecting the soft nighttime light, Harry James Potter made his way, trembling slightly, to the first landing. He stood silently outside the door, knowing exactly what – exactly who – was inside. He knew that if he was found here, he'd be killed no less than five times, but he needed her tonight.
They had visited him again: his nightmares. It had been a few months since the final battle, and the nightmares those first few nights had been some of the worst. Every night, the battle would reappear in his head, and instead of just witnessing the deaths of Fred, Colin, Tonks, or Remus, he'd see Ron thrown from the astronomy tower, or Hermione bitten by Greyback, or – the worst – Ginny, illuminated by green for a spilt second, before crumpling, dead.
But that night's dream had been one that he'd never had before. It had been terrifying – every single terrible thing that had ever happened to him had come into one place, and all the guilt he had surrounding those events had pulled him down, threatening to drown him. After waking, sweat-covered and shaking, Harry had tiptoed out of Percy's old room and down the many stairs to Ginny's.
Ginny had been Harry's lifeline. Every morning since the first nightmares, they had sat down and shared their night demons. It made the dreams slightly more bearable, Harry thought, to have someone there to comfort him, and to hold him and whisper sweet things in his ear.
Harry didn't think he could wait until morning, though – he longed – no, needed to feel Ginny's arms around him, and knew he wouldn't sleep until she was cradled against him.
Harry placed his hand on the doorknob and turned it, placing gentle pressure on the wood to open it as quietly as possible.
His breath caught in his throat. Ginny was sprawled out on her bed, her hair a halo of red, and the moon shone down upon her; she was a goddess.
Taking a few hesitant steps toward the bed, not wanting to wake the sleeping beauty there, Harry briefly realized that he was clad only in his thin pajama pants. Ignoring this fact, he pulled up the covers, and slipped under, slithering closer to Ginny's warmth. She seemed to automatically curl up into him, and he wrapped his arms around her, before falling into the most peaceful sleep he'd had in years.
Charlie Weasley blinked as the sun shone in his eyes. He groaned and turned over, but there was no escaping it. It was time to get up.
After stumbling out of bed, swearing a bit, and pulling a shirt on, Charlie opened his door and walked clumsily, still half-asleep, down the stairs. He yawned as he observed his mother, who was already at work in the cramped kitchen.
"Morning, Charlie," Bill said between bites of oatmeal.
"Morning," he grunted back. "What're you doing here?"
"Charlie Weasley! That's no way to speak to your brother!" His mother's reprimand made him flinch.
"All I meant was – aren't you supposed to be a work, or something? At home with your beautiful wife?"
Bill rolled his eyes, chewing his breakfast. "No, moron, I come here every morning."
Charlie's eyebrows raised. "You do?"
"Yeah," Bill paused for a snort, "you just sleep too late to know." Shaking his head with amusement, he took another spoonful of oatmeal into his mouth.
Charlie grumbled slightly, and pulled a bowl of the steaming sludge toward him.
A few minutes late, Charlie was leaning contentedly back in his chair, idly tracing patterns on the table. Bill, beside him, was whistling and looking about the kitchen, plainly bored.
"Anything we can do to help, mum?" he asked, and Charlie sent him a glare at the use of the word we. He was perfectly fine, thank you, sitting here daydreaming.
"Actually, yes. Could you wake Ginny up for me? I need to talk to her about her upcoming birthday. She'll be seventeen! Oh, I can't believe it, they grow up so fast..."
Bill rolled his eyes at Charlie, and got up, leaving his weepy mother behind. Charlie, not wanting to be stranded with her in the small kitchen, groaned quietly and rushed to follow Bill, who was already knocking on Ginny's door.
"Ginny? Time to get up. Mum needs to ta-"
His speech was abruptly cut off as he opened the door, and a strangled noise escaped his lips.
"What is it?" Charlie asked, and rushed to the door, pushing Bill's frozen figure out of the way.
The sight that met his eyes was one that he never thought he'd see in his life.
Harry was in Ginny's bed. They were wrapped around each other, and, even as Ginny's two eldest brothers looked on, Harry buried his nose in her hair and took a deep breath. He murmured something, and pulled her closer. Ginny snuggled even deeper into his embrace.
Charlie knew Harry and Ginny were – erm – involved, but he didn't know – didn't want to know – that they were this far. He was in her bed, for Merlin's sake!
Bill seemed to have broken free of his stunned trance, because a terrifying roar made Charlie jump a few feet into the air.
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?"
Harry and Ginny jerked awake, and if Charlie hadn't been so shocked, he may have laughed at how comical they looked. Harry yelled "Holy shit!" and Ginny yelped, and they both were tangled up in each other and the bedclothes.
As it was, Charlie was rather frightened of Bill himself, and he wasn't even on the receiving line of the shout. He couldn't imagine how Harry and Ginny must have felt.
Harry scrambled out of bed, and Charlie was pleased to note that he had pajama pants on; relief flooded through him. They hadn't shagged...yet.
Meanwhile, Bill was fuming beside him, and Charlie was slowly awakening from his own shock, and had a growing urge to pummel Har...Potter to a pulp.
"Oi!" Ginny yelled, indignant. She was sitting up on the bed, the covers pooled around her, hands on her hips and eyes flashing, and Charlie almost backed down; she looked so Mum-like in that pose, that he nearly didn't want to cross her.
"Yeah, what are you two doing? Get a little desperate during the night, Potter? Did you need to sneak in and see your girlfriend in the middle of the night? Have a wet dream, or something?"
Charlie was pleased that Harry had the grace to hang his head, but felt a small twinge of guilt as a spasm of pain flitted across his stubble-lined face. He pushed it aside.
"Hey! Don't you start on him!" Ginny made to get up, but Harry stopped her.
"It's fine, Gin," he said quietly. Ginny sank back down onto the mattress and crossed her arms, her chin jutting out defiantly.
Ignoring Harry's ability to calm Ginny down – which none of her brothers had ever achieved – Bill rounded on his little sister.
"Ginevra Molly," he started, his voice much quieter than his earlier outburst, but shaking with anger just the same, "what in Merlin's name are you doing? You're only sixteen! That's too young to be sleeping in the same bed!"
"Oh, like you weren't doing it when you were my age," Ginny scoffed, rolling her eyes.
"That's different," Bill replied tersely.
"Oh? How so?"
There was a short pause, and Charlie and Harry observed the tension between the youngest and eldest Weasley children growing.
"It just is," Bill finally finished, his jaw tense.
Ginny exploded. "Oh, it is, is it? Well, I'll have you know that I went through all sorts of things in the last year at Hogwarts that you couldn't imagine! They forced me to mature – I had the Cruciatus curse performed on me too many times to count! I am plenty old enough to be sharing a bed with my boyfriend!"
"Oh yeah? Well I don't agree!"
"Hmmph! I'll be seventeen in a few days' time, and then you won't be able to tell me what to do! I'll finally be considered an adult, and I can shag Harry up a wall if I bloody well want to!"
"Oh, so you admit it? That's what you were doing last night? Shagging each other senseless?"
"No, you blubbering-"
But Ginny was cut off. "Potter!" Charlie roared, re-entering the fight. "You bloody bastard! You took advantage of our sister!"
"What – no!" Harry stumbled backwards, trying to escape Charlie's outstretched hands. "I swear I didn't! I just came here to – to -"
"See, can't even come up with a good excuse, Charlie," Bill commented derisively. "Maybe we ought to -"
"Do you want to know the real reason I came in here last night?" Harry yelled, and his voice had changed so much that everyone else stopped shouting. By that time, most of the house had already gathered and was watching the scene with open mouths.
"Do you want to know?" Without waiting for confirmation, Harry launched into speech. "Because of the nightmares," he said bitterly. "Every night – every night for the past three months – I've had the same dream, always the same, with a few differences." He was pacing now, occasionally running his hands through his already messed-up, bedhead hair. "The final battle. And it's not just what happened there. It's what could have happened. All of you – dead. And it's my fault." His voice cracked. "I see -" he swallowed. "I see Neville – tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, like his parents." He took a deep shuddering breath. "Luna – Luna is crushed by a giant. Ron -" here his face broke, and he screwed it up, holding in the tears. "Hermione – Ginny – All of you – dead. I have to relive Fred's death and seeing Tonks and Remus lying there, and know – I could have stopped it."
Harry shook his head and sniffed, wiping his eyes. He turned back on dumbstruck Charlie and Bill with new-found anger and tears in his eyes.
"And you know what I dreamed last night? All of them came to me – every single one – and they blamed me. They told me it was my fault. All of them. Fred, Remus, Tonks," said Harry, his voice starting to waver. Swallowing, he continued. "Sirius, Cedric, Colin, Dumbledore, Moody – even my parents," he choked out, and the first tear trickled down his face. "Even Hedwig. And they all told me – t-told me I should have saved them."
Harry collapsed, crouching on the floor, knees to his chest, sobs wracking his body, as most of the Weasley family and Hermione looked on, stunned. Ginny was the first to recover, after a few seconds, and threw the covers off her, jumping down off the bed and nearly running to Harry. She pried his arms from where they were around his knees, and pulled his head to her chest. He wrapped his arms around her waist and clutched onto her as if for dear life, sobs still shaking his own frame.
Ginny ran her fingers through Harry's hair, messing it up even more – Was it ever neat? Charlie wondered – and whispered soothing things that only the two of them could hear. Slowly, every so slowly, the silent observers left the scene, and went quietly back to what they were doing before, until Charlie and Bill were the only two left watching the couple on the floor. Charlie backed out, gradually, keeping his eyes on his brother's contorted face.
Bill Weasley watched Ginny stroke Harry's tear-stained face gently, and he knew she really had grown up at last.
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