Another flash of lightning, followed closely by a deafening crash. Even the dull beat of the rain against the windows was drowned out for a moment, and Oliver shivered and hated himself for it a little. He wasn’t stupid. He knew the storm couldn’t hurt him, not while he was at Hogwarts, one of the safest places on earth. He had nothing to be afraid of.
But it was so loud, and the Gryffindor dormitories were built into a tower that stuck quite a bit into the air, and he could still see the flashes even if he closed the curtains around his bed and hid his face under the blanket. Nothing about that made him feel safe, whatever the facts may be. It was therefore no wonder he almost screamed when his mattress dipped unexpectedly.
“Hey, Oliver,” whispered a familiar voice.
Oliver pulled the blanket to below his nose so he could peek over the edge. Wesley was sitting on the edge of Oliver’s bed, wrapped in his own Gryffindor blanket, like a giant, red Wesley wrap with a mess of blond hair poking out at the top in lieu of lettuce. He yawned widely and then directed his sleepy attention back to Oliver.
“Hey,” he said. Oliver wondered whether Wesley had forgotten he’d already said hello, or if he just hoped Oliver would actually answer him this time.
“It’s two at night,” Oliver said, because that felt a lot more sensible to him than hello.
Wesley shook his head. “Half past.”
He wasn’t even finished speaking when a bright flash lit up his face for just a second. It painted him uncannily pale, like a ghost version of Wesley. Oliver squeezed his eyes shut against the clap of thunder that followed. He only opened them again when Wesley started poking his side.
“Stop it,” Oliver hissed. “Wes, I can get through this on my own. Go away.”
“You don’t seriously think I’m here for your sake? Nah mate, I just felt like hanging out in your bed for a bit at half past two in the morning.”
Oliver stubbornly stayed where he was for a moment longer, but then gave in and did the worm sideways to create some space on the right side of the bed. Wesley fell down with a sigh and pulled the curtains shut again.
“Much better. Sleep now.”
“Pff,” Oliver said. It was easier than admitting he felt a lot more comfortable now that he wasn’t all on his own and trembling. Wesley didn’t react, except by snoring softly.
Oliver would have dozed off himself, if there hadn’t been the snick of a door closing and quiet footfalls. Somebody had entered their dormitory. He considered ignoring the strange sounds. It wouldn’t be too hard, because the rain nearly covered them up anyway, but what if it was a burglar? What if it was Professor Snape, come to poison Gryffindor students so Slytherin would be victorious in the next Quidditch match? Oliver’s estimation of plausible reasons for the footsteps might have been influenced by the ominous weather and darkness, but regardless, he couldn’t take those kinds of risks as Quidditch Captain.
Weasley was on the side closest to the door, so Oliver shook him awake.
“Hmpfbl,” Wesley said. “What?”
“There’s someone here,” Oliver whispered. “Snape wants to poison us.”
“Can’t he do it tomorrow?”
“He’s in the dorm right now!” Oliver pressed on. Wesley still didn’t seem to grasp the urgency of the situation, so Oliver flopped over him (and having Oliver land on his stomach finally seemed to wake Wesley a bit) to reach the bed curtains on Wesley’s side. Oliver shoved them aside and spotted the intruder.
Percy literally jumped. It was a good thing he was holding onto the lit candle he was carrying well enough not to drop it on his own feet. “Why are you awake?” he hissed. “It’s almost three. We have a Transfiguration test first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Couldn’t we ask you the same thing?” Wesley asked. He seemed to have woken up enough to participate critically in the conversation. “Scared of the thunder?”
“No,” Percy said, but considering the fact he was sneaking through the castle in the middle of the night, he didn’t come across as very believable.
“Oliver isn’t either. You can join us, if you want.”
Oliver was somewhat offended that Wesley was inviting people into his bed, but this was Percy, so he didn’t even consider protesting.
“There’s tons of room left,” he heard himself say.
Percy still seemed skeptical. Oliver threw his legs over Wesley as well, so he was now fully on Wesley’s other side instead of draped half across him. With very minimal help from Wesley he rolled him as far as possible to the other side of the bed. He only stopped when Wesley made an “eep!”-sound indicating he was about a second away from being tipped over the edge and landing on the floor. Oliver was now comfortably in the middle, Wesley was clinging on for dear life to the last couple of centimeters on the left-hand side, and there was a wide strip of empty space on the right, where a third teen could fit easily. Maybe even a fourth, but Oliver wasn’t planning on finding out.
“See,” he said, “this totally works.”
Percy blew out his candle, so Oliver felt more than saw that someone lay down next to him. It took longer than expected, which turned out to be because Percy had fetched his blanket from his own bed first.
Oliver hid his grin in his pillow. Then there was a sound like someone used a large hammer to flatten a metal bin, chased by a flash in record time, and Oliver hid a completely different expression.
He didn’t even notice he had grabbed Percy’s arm until Percy patted the back of his hand. “It’ll be alright,” he said. “It’s over before you know it. Nothing to be afraid of. Try thinking of something nice.”
Oliver resumed breathing. He reluctantly withdrew his hand and used his hard-won oxygen to ask about a mystery that had been on his mind since he saw Percy. “If you aren’t scared, then why were you out of bed?”
“Because he is scared, duh,” Wesley muttered.
“I’m not scared of thunder,” Percy repeated, just a bit too loudly for the library quiet ambience they’d created.
“Ssh,” Wesley warned. “We don’t want to wake up Larry and Kyle.”
“I’m not scared,” Percy said, but he was back to using a sleeping roommate friendly volume.
“Then why were you up?”
“You’d just laugh at me.”
“Of course we wouldn’t,” Oliver said, perplexed. “Who’d laugh at you?”
Percy was quiet for a moment. “Do you mean that?”
“Yes.” Oliver hoped it was clear how serious he was about this. He thought he heard Wesley sigh, but whatever the reason for that was, it mattered far more to him that that reaction wasn’t copied on his other side.
“I was looking in on Fred and George,” Percy admitted. “They used to have trouble sleeping during big storms.”
“That’s kind of cool of you,” Wesley said.
“Yes, well.” Percy sounded embarrassed. “They were both snoring, so it was fine.”
Oliver had a feeling that Percy was turning red. For the first time that night he really regretted not being able to see anything in the dark. “You’re a really good brother, Percy. That’s so nice.”
“Thanks,” Percy said, so softly Oliver almost didn’t catch it.
“Let’s try getting some sleep now,” Wesley said.
“Yes,” Percy agreed. “Transfiguration tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Oliver said.
The rain had slowed down to a rhythmic tapping against the windows, which turned it into something far more soothing than ominous. It was soon joined by renewed soft snores from Wesley and not much later by snuffling from Percy’s side. It didn’t take long for Oliver to enter sleep as well, safely in the middle, where the thunder storm couldn’t find him.