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Seeking Shelter

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Harry hated storms now, especially at night. Every stroke of lightning seemed greenish, every thunderclap made him jump; no matter how tired he became, a helpless and childish fear kept him wide awake and wired. He'd listen, wait, eyes open in the dark, and all would be silent but for the rain, and slowly he'd begin to relax, to drift towards sleep...and then another flash and boom and he was back where he began, watching the hands march around the clock.

Across the room, Ron muttered, "Oh, screw it."

Harry lay still as he heard bare feet pad across the creaky boards of the Burrow, feigning sleep. But a moment later he felt a tug on the blankets, and the mattress dipped and squealed as Ron put his knee on it. "Budge up," he said, or something like that, through a yawn.

"What?" Harry rolled over and squinted up at the muzzy shadow, which the next flash of lightning displayed as a thin, cringing young man with dark smudges under his eyes and some serious bedhead. The thunder rolled through, and the both exhaled noisily after it.

"Move over, mate," Ron said, pulling on the blankets again. "We're both lying here wide awake, we might as well get something out of it."

Harry groaned, but there was no standing up to the Weasley persistence, not at this hour of the morning. "I'm too tired for...that," he said, reluctantly shifting from his warm spot under the covers.

Ron snorted as he slipped in behind him. "I didn't say a word about that. Just thought we could lay awake together." He wrapped one arm around Harry's middle and pulled him close, back-to-front. Harry could feel all their bony angles bumping together through cotton pajamas, but not the protrusion he was half-expecting. They wiggled into a comfortable spoon position.

Another clap of thunder, and Harry felt Ron's arm tighten around him. Sometimes he had the feeling that he was acting as a very large teddy bear; most of those times he didn't mind.

There was a tap at the door almost lost in the rushing rain, and then it opened so slowly and softly it hardly squeaked. The corridor was barely lighter than their room, but Harry could still make out a silhouette poking its head through. "Harry?" a soft voice whispered. "Ron?"

"Right here," Harry whispered back, propping himself up on one arm.

Hermione slipped entirely into the room and lit her wand�dimly, but enough that they all squinted away. "Oh," she said. "Were you�?"

"No," Ron grumbled into the pillow, "and I don't know if I should be flattered over here or annoyed."

She sighed. "I'm sorry. I just..."

"Couldn't sleep?" Harry said. "Join the club."

"Seriously," Ron added, and waved her over to the bed.

"There's not nearly enough room," she said, frowning.

Harry tried to think of a way around this, but Ron was somewhat more alert. "Just a mo�" Without actually throwing off the covers, he stretched all the way across the room and snagged his wand off the bedside table. He cast an Expanding Charm on bed and mattress, and it grew with a great deal of squeaking and grating along the floorboards. It was now just wide enough for Hermione to fit comfortably; however, it had also gotten longer, pushing Harry's trunk all the way up against the opposite wall. Hermione swung her feet up on the bed and stared at the bedclothes. "You forgot to Expand the blankets."

"I was getting to that�" Ron's wrist movement was just a bit too vigorous, though, and the blankets suddenly exploded outward on all sides. Hagrid probably could've hidden underneath. "Whoops."

"Leave it," Harry said, and fought his way out from underneath. "Just leave it. We'll fix it in the morning." He pulled Hermione to him, Ron settled in behind him, and there was another round of wiggling and maneuvering until they all lay in a comfortable heap in the middle. Thunder rolled, and Harry discovered the pleasures of having a teddy bear.

"I feel so stupid," Hermione whispered after a moment. "Like I'm a little child with Mum and Dad."

Ron snickered. "And who's who here?"

"Oh, stop it. I meant..." She sighed, and bent her head under Harry's chin, so he got a face full of rumpled, frizzy hair. "When I was a little girl I was always terrified of storms, but I didn't want to admit it, so I'd hide in my room until I couldn't stand it any more and then go running to my parents. They always let me sleep with them the rest of the night."

"Sounds nice," Harry said sleepily.

She looked and over him at Ron. "Did you ever do that? When you were scared?"

"Are you kidding?" Ron said. "They'd have needed a bloody big bed�and anyway, the twins would've roasted me the next morning."

"So what did you do?"

"Ran up to Bill and Charlie, usually." He yawned. "They were always okay about it. And the twins couldn't say a word, 'cause they did the same thing."

"I can't imagine Fred and George being scared of anything," Hermione said. "Not even as children."

Ron shrugged, joggling Harry's shoulders. "Everybody has nightmares."

Another roll of thunder rattled the windows, but it was faint and soft, probably miles away. The warmth and the closeness began to dispel some of the night's darker shadows. "I don't remember being scared when I was little," Harry mumbled against Hermione's forehead.


"Not really." Ron snorted softly into Harry's hair, and Hermione looked skeptical. "I guess I couldn't hear much from inside the cupboard."


Two pairs of arms tightened around him, but for some reason he felt he should be comforting them instead�reassuring them that he had survived that part of his life, that he would survive this, too. They could all survive, one thunderstorm at a time. He stroked Hermione's hair and squeezed Ron's hand, and they barely even noticed when the rain gave way to cool and starry night.