Harry comes in late, like he always does, because he doesn’t sleep and he does do his best to keep quiet, but sometimes he just can’t help it. The dorm is dark, the only light is from the moon in the window. Harry vaguely remembers sitting in that window his first year, millions of questions and no answers. He doesn’t fit in the window anymore, but he still doesn’t have answers. He slams his fist on his bed frame. It shakes, rattles the wall. He didn’t mean to hit it so hard, but he did. He wants to do it again, but Ron is already sitting up in his bed. “Harry?” He whispers into the darkness. Harry exhales angrily. He’s always angry.
The other boys start to shuffle, Seamus and Dean drag themselves up from bed and look back in Harry’s direction knowingly. They never complain, they never talk behind Harry’s back. They trust him. So they head downstairs, to the common room. Maybe to catch up on sleep on the couch, or talk to each other, but they never complain. Ron is swinging his feet out of bed when Neville comes up beside him. “Ron, if you need to sleep I can talk to him. I really don’t mind.” “Thanks, Nev. I’ve got this. Just come back in a bit.” Ron returns, watching Harry carefully. Neville looks between the two of them and heads downstairs, closing the door as quietly as he can.
Harry pounds his fists on the bed frame again.
“Missed you at dinner, mate.” Ron crosses his arms over his chest, shuffling over to Harry’s bed, which he sits on. Harry will stop hitting the bed frame if Ron is in the way.
“I had to clear my head.”
“Were you safe?” Ron has stopped asking where Harry goes. He knows he can’t leave Hogwarts grounds, but that doesn’t stop Harry from keeping his secrets.
Harry gives Ron a side eye that he can see even in the darkness. Ron runs a hand through his hair.
“Look, Ron, you don’t have to do this all the time. I don’t need Seamus, and Dean, and Neville, and, and you, to lose sleep over me.”
“I’m always losing sleep over you, mate.” Ron teases. Harry balls up his fists again, but doesn’t act on his anger this time. “Harry, really. They don’t mind. They just want you to have some space. They understand.”
“They can’t understand, Ron! I don’t understand! I don’t understand any of this, and I don’t want anyone else to have to suffer or die because I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be doing.” Harry raises his voice, his anger is now funneled to something tangible, he can direct it at someone.
“Nobody expects you to have it all together right now.” Ron recedes into himself a bit. He knows Harry is grasping for an outlet, but he’s also seen the damage Harry can do.
“Ron, I’m supposed to be the chosen one. If anyone needs to ‘have it all together’ right now, it’s me! Everybody expects me to have an answer for them, Ron. I don’t have answers for anyone because I don’t have answers for me!” Harry paces a circle in the space between his and Ron’s beds before stopping to slam his fists into the wall.
Ron jumps up. He puts a hand on Harry’s shoulder, which makes Harry whip around to face him. Ron flinches instinctively, expecting Harry to swing on him. Both boys are breathing heavily. Harry’s eyes soften when he sees Ron flinch, but the anger swelling inside him, the red hot anger that never takes a day off and never lets him rest and never lets him go a day without hurting…
Ron pulls Harry into a hug. It’s impulsive and an act of love that Ron doesn’t know how to express any other way. Harry is surprised again, shocked out of anger. Ron wraps his arms tightly around Harry, thinks of all the times he thought he’d hug Harry for the last time, that he’d never see him again, that he’d be too hurt or he’d stay out too late and wander into the Forest or-
His train of thought is interrupted by Harry beating his fists on Ron’s back. It’s not enough to bruise him, but it’s enough to hurt. “Why can’t you just let me go, Ron? Everyone else has given up on me. Seamus’s mum was right the first time, the Prophet is right- I’m selfish. I’m arrogant. Just let me go, Ron. Why can’t you just let me go?” Harry’s anger, his fury, devolves into frustrated tears. Soon he is hugging Ron back just as tightly as Ron holds him. Harry’s body begins heaving, wracked with dry sobs and gasping.
Ron is not very good at this, admittedly. He’s held Ginny many times in similar ways, Fred once or twice as well, but he’s never been able to quite find the right words. All he knows is how to hold on.
“I can’t do this alone, Ron. Please don’t let me do this alone. I’m so scared.” It’s words Harry would never admit to another living soul, words he’d never admit in the light.
“I’m right here, mate. Can’t get rid of me if you tried.” Ron lightens the mood a little bit. He’s good at that, he’s confident he can do that much. Harry sniffs to try to force his breathing normal and he lets out an exhale that’s more like a scoff. Ron releases his tight grip on Harry, but leads him to his bed. “You’ve always got me, Harry.” He has an arm around Harry’s shoulders and Harry leans into him. Ron feels the exhaustion rolling off his best friend in waves, undertows of fury and trenches of despair ready to drag him under. Ron figures as long as he holds on, he can keep Harry with him. “I don’t want to do this without you, Ron.” Harry mumbles under his breath. His breathing steadies, and Ron feels his head grow heavy on his shoulders. Harry’s nodding off. Ron might be too, but he’s decidedly staying awake for Harry to get at least a few uninterrupted moments of peaceful rest. Ron thinks, it’s the least he can do.