Harry didn’t sleep well. Usually he was able to keep his feelings under control, however he knew that he woke up the Gryffindor boys often.
During the many years that they knew Harry, at first they politely ignored his whimpers, shouts, and cries. As the years dragged on, and the dreams got worse, they were more vocal. Sometimes mid-nightmare the scene abruptly melted away once Harry felt a pillow thrown on his face and he would hear the muttered curses of Seamus. Other times, a touch on the arm would wake him from the horrors of the unconscious world, and he would find the kind eyes of Neville studying him cautiously. Gasping for air, Harry would sit up drenched in sweat at times to find Ron quietly awake, concern written across his face. The moonlight wouldn’t be enough to see much, but the creases of his brow were nestled under hair that in the darkness lost its ruddy nature.
They were in their 8th year of Hogwarts, and so although Death Eaters plagued all of their dreams, the real threat had passed. There was a bit of selfish satisfaction that Harry was not the only one screaming awake in the wee hours of the morning. That selfish flash only would last a few seconds before being replaced with more permanent emotions, such as sympathy, sadness, and concern for the terrified boy.
On this particular night, the dream wasn’t about Voldemort, but about his childhood. Starting awake, he quickly looked around out of habit to make sure the other boys were asleep. Harry felt like he wanted to crawl into a crack in the wall when he knew another boy was kept awake because of him. Guilt stabbed at him, and anger throbbed through every bone. The time he had dreamed about was a particularly nasty incident taking place during a Christmas Party. Closing his eyes, he remembered the meaty hands of his Uncle Vernon poking into his face and threatening him like he did on so many occasions.
“Remember, boy, if you make any sort of noise or cause any sort of funny business, I won’t…”
“You won’t feed me for a week, I know…”
Harry mouthed his response, letting his breath out in gasps and frightened sobs. Grabbing the blanket around him, he couldn’t stop thinking about what happened next…
The Dursleys had their dreadful family over, and Harry wasn’t allowed outside of the cupboard. He smelled all sorts of great food, making his mouth water. Potatoes, sausages, and all sorts of sweets. What drove Harry wild enough to begin crying was the smell of ham. At this point Harry didn’t remember when his last meal was, and it was quite possible the Dursleys forgot to feed him for a few days. Harry had been so afraid of being punished that he had been quiet enough for Vernon to forget about him.
Tears began to prickle Harry’s eyes as he remembered the stabbing hunger pains of the nine year old in the cupboard. Each breath was ragged, and Harry began tossing. The grip on his blankets only tightened as the memory engulfed him further.
No, I am over this. I was the chosen one. I am the savior of the Wizarding World. I am over this…
Harry had to snap out of this or he knew he wouldn’t get sleep tonight at all.
I’m over this…
Reliving was so painful...
No he wouldn’t go back there...
Underneath the covers, Harry shivered as the cries of nine-year-old him rang through his skull. Tears flowed from his eyes as he sank back into the memory…
“Please, Uncle Vernon! I didn’t do it! I’m sorry! Please don’t leave me out here!” The small boy with shaggy black hair and oversized grey clothes seemed to shrink in front of the man.
Vernon only sneered, the black hair in his fist. His breath came out as a puff of fog, and he stood out in the backyard hunched over the small woodshed. Harry couldn’t see his face because of the shadow of the lanturn on the back porch, but he doubted there was any form of mercy. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he begged his uncle anyway. His head stung where the hands had him in a deathgrip.
In a booming voice, Vernon shouted back.
“That is enough! You are a freak and a worthless mouth not worth feeding! How dare you laze about our house and steal enough food to become fat, and then on Christmas Night you steal our ham?! Your spite knows no bounds! You were not invited to our party, because you are not family! Just a mistake that bumbled its way onto our driveway!”
At every sentence, little Harry received a shake, jerking his head and making him squeak.
“I didn’t steal the ham! Please stop, you are hurting me! I was just so hungry… and it just appeared in my lap! It was like magic!”
At the boy’s last words, the man uttered a grunt and tossed the boy into the woodshed. With a small noise more associated with that of a wounded animal, Harry fell on the firewood stored within. His glasses were nowhere to be seen, and as the boy looked up, he only saw a blurry shadow that was the monstrous man in front of him.
Angrily, Vernon spit out his next words slowly,
“There… Is… No… Such… Thing… As… MAGIC!”
At his last word, Vernon slammed the door closed, and Harry heard a metal lock click. Sobbing, he shivered as the cold began seeping into him. Shifting on the wood below him, Harry tried to find his glasses. It was difficult considering that his bony fingers were numb with cold, but eventually he found them. Putting them on did not help much, considering the darkness that engulfed him. The boy hugged his knees and began to wait. It would be a long, cold night.
Harry shivered again, suddenly feeling freezing. His head hurt, and his eyes stung from crying for so long. Tossing and turning more, he realized he would not find peace. Birds singing in the distance notified him to the fact that he wouldn’t have a fitful night of sleep. With a simple spell, he checked the time. 3:55. Great.
Adrenaline prickled through him in every nerve and fiber, and Harry was not calm enough to stay in bed for another few hours. With a rustle of covers, he was up, dressed in 2 of Molly Weasley's sweaters (even though it was the beginning of September) and with his covers draped around him.
His bare feet didn't feel the cold as he pattered through the empty stone halls. As he walked aimlessly, he bowed his head staring directly at the floor in front of him. Harry loved walking at this time. It was only him and the echoes of the fallen from the war. He could almost hear Tonks' laugh and Hedwig's scree. Lupin's steady supportive hand touched his shoulder as Sirius messed up his head paternally. Tears continued to trickle down his cheek as he sped up his pace. He would walk himself tired. At least, that was the plan.
What wasn’t the plan, however, was waking up in a blanket burrito staring into the confused eyes of Draco Malfoy. That was quite the shock, and Harry only got a small thrill from the fact that it meant he got sleep. True, he collapsed on the floor in front of the Slytherin doorway, but it was sleep nonetheless. From the fact that it seemed to be not quite dawn, and there were dark circles under Draco’s clouded eyes, Gryffindor was not the only house having problems fending off their monsters at night.