A/N: Just for clarification: this takes place near the end of OotP. Think of it as being a "missing scene."
Harry pushed the door to the dormitory closed, and then collapsed onto
his bed. Kicking off his shoes, he let them fall to the floor as he
yanked the hangings closed around the bed. He pulled off his glasses
and reached through the hangings to toss them onto the bedside table.
rubbed his face roughly with both hands, grinding the heels of his
hands against his eyes. He was so tired. He hadn't slept well in days,
but since the horrific events at the Ministry a few nights ago, sleep
had become as alien to him as hunger.
He let his eyes stay
closed for a moment, trying to ease the ache in them. But once again,
his mind began to replay the events of that night, that chamber. He saw
the bolt of light hit Sirius, blasting him backward...
He groaned softly and sat up abruptly, shaking his head to dispel the memories.
a weary sigh, he rolled to the side of the bed, then stood and
stretched his aching muscles. Without conscious thought, he shrugged
off his robes, letting them fall to the floor. He moved automatically
toward the loo, and splashed his face with water. He deliberately
avoided looking in the mirror; it had been entirely too opinionated
He half-stumbled back to his bed. He didn't
want to sleep, but perhaps lying down for a bit would help his
He flopped onto the bed again and
closed the hangings completely. He let himself relax, his eyes drifting
closed as he repeated to himself: "I'm not going to sleep."
his mantra became a steady mental chant... he sank into his pillow, his
breathing deepening, slowing... as he drifted into sleep.
began to flow through him - part memory, part dream, part wish -
mingling, mixing, swirling together, until he could no longer tell
reality from fantasy...
Christmas holidays. Sirius' house. The bedroom he shared with Ron. He lay on his bed, sleeping peacefully.
Soon the dream began. Images of the Third Task. The maze. Cedric. Wormtail. His parents. Mr. Weasley.
The images shifted... "You could have saved him... They wouldn't have died if not for you..." A high, cold voice taunted him.
"No..." he moaned, shaking his head on his pillow.
"You can watch them die again... You'll never be free..."
"NO!" Harry screamed as hands gripped his shoulders and he bolted upright, trying to escape.
"Harry! It's me - it's all right!" Sirius was beside him, grasping his shoulders.
jerked awake, his eyes flying open to meet his godfather's blue eyes.
The light was dim in the room now - he must have slept longer than he
His hands were clenched on Sirius' arms - solid,
strong arms that gently pulled him into a warm embrace. He let himself
lean against Sirius' firm shoulder as his godfather shifted to lean
against the head of the bed, holding Harry close.
Some small part of his whispered to him that he was too old for this - that he didn't deserve to be comforted.
He told that part of his brain "sod off" and let himself revel in the comfort and familiarity of his godfather's presence.
flicked his wand and murmured. The fireplace sprang to life and a
blanket draped itself over them. Sirius tucked the blanket around them,
then asked quietly, "Want to tell me about the dream?"
hesitated, then whispered, "It was - all jumbled - the Third Task - he
was telling me that I should have saved Cedric - should have saved my -
Sirius' arms tightened around him. "You know that's not true, don't you?"
Harry hesitated again, then nodded slowly. "I - I suppose. It just - it doesn't always feel that way."
Sirius nodded. "I know. But just always remember that it's all his fault. No matter what has happened - no matter what happens in the future - it's always HIS fault - not yours. All right?"
Harry looked up at his godfather, rather confused. "But -"
"No, Harry," Sirius' voice was somber, no-nonsense. "Listen to me. I want you to promise me: No matter what happens, you will always remember that it's his fault, not yours. Always." He paused, then said quietly, "Promise me, Harry."
tilted his head and met Sirius' intense gaze. He swallowed against the
growing tightness in his throat. "I promise," he whispered.
tightened his arms around his godson and leaned his cheek against the
top of Harry's head. "You've had to deal with far too much as it is,
Harry. Don't burden yourself even further by blaming yourself for
things that aren't your fault." Harry didn't know how to respond to
that, so he just nodded against Sirius' shoulder.
shifted downward on the bed, til they were almost lying down again.
Harry was warm, comfortable, and still sleepy. He stifled a yawn, but
Sirius chuckled quietly. "Go back to sleep, Harry," he murmured.
"Not bedtime," Harry mumbled, trying to keep his eyes open.
could hear the smile in Sirius' voice. "Doesn't matter. You need to lay
down the burdens and just rest." He pulled the blanket closer around
Harry nodded sleepily, muffling another
yawn against his godfather's chest. "It's not your fault. Lay it down,"
Sirius whispered, almost like a mantra.
Harry's eyes drifted closed. "You promised," he heard Sirius whisper to him. "It's not your fault. Just lay it down."
Warmed and comforted, Harry slept.
awoke several hours later to soft murmurs and quiet rustlings. He lay
on his bed for a moment, trying to piece together what had happened. He
rubbed his eyes, surprised to find they weren't aching as they had been
He heard quiet noises coming from the direction of
Ron's bed and pushed himself up on one elbow, then drew back the
curtains to peek out. Dean and Neville were already in bed, and Ron was
sitting on his own bed, pulling off his shoes and socks. He glanced up
and saw Harry.
"Hey," he said quietly. "We didn't wake you, did we?"
Harry shook his head. "No, I just woke up," he answered, his voice raspy with sleep.
looked at him intently for a moment, then moved across the space
between their beds and sat next to Harry. "You okay?" he asked.
started to nod automatically, but caught himself. He looked down at the
covering on his bed for a moment, then looked up to meet Ron's eyes.
"I'm better," he said softly.
Ron nodded in understanding. "Good. That's a start."
shrugged. "Yeah." Ron studied him for a moment longer, then gave a
quick grin before moving back toward his own bed. He began to change
into his pajamas, and Harry decided to do likewise.
A few minutes later, they both crawled onto their beds. Ron looked over again. "Guess we should try to sleep, hmm?"
nodded as he pulled back his blankets. Without thinking, he said
quietly, "Yeah, guess I should lay down..." he caught himself, and
paused. He noticed Ron looking at him questioningly, and he swallowed
deliberately. He shook his head then, but added, "Time to lay down. I
this made sense this way. In case it's confusing at all, Harry was
dreaming about dreaming, basically. What really happened at Christmas
vs. what was "only" a dream? Only Harry and Sirius know! ;-)
Thanks to Allie for the beta, and to Joe for "making" me finish this! J