A/N: As much as it pains me, Harry and his friends are not mine – they are the creations of Ms. JK Rowling, may she live to a ripe old age and finish Book Six soon, ^_^
Alone in the darkness, a solitary figure huddled underneath a blanket in the Weasleys' living room. The rest of the house was asleep, oblivious to the shivering form that occupied their couch. Indeed, he wasn't supposed to be on the couch – he was supposed to be on the topmost floor, on a small guest cot, only yards away from the snoring form of his best friend, Ron.
At least the nightmare hadn't been one of those kind – the kind that linked him mysteriously to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, which showed him horrible visions of things happening on the other side of the country. The nightmares that always ended in a flash of brilliant green light, or with the agonized scream of another Death Eater punished with Cruciatus. He hated those dreams, worse than any others, because he knew they were true dreams, visions of things that were actually happening. It was a weakness that Voldemort could use to his advantage.
No, it had been a normal, run-of-the-mill nightmare that had wakened Harry Potter in a cold sweat and driven him out of Ron's bedroom. ‘Normal' nightmares for Harry Potter were nothing to scoff at. These dreams weren't visions, but they were real enough – vivid memories of the Department of Mysteries, only weeks ago, surfacing in Harry's unconscious when he was asleep and defenseless. The flash of red light arcing through Sirius' chest. The lifeless expression in his godfather's eyes as he slipped silently through the veiled archway. You did this, Sirius accused, his eyes staring blankly up at Harry. This happened because of YOU.
His nightmares were almost as bad as his visions. Harry didn't wake up with the scar on his forehead burning, but he did wake covered in sweat and heaving uncontrollably. He didn't think he could stand it if Ron woke up to find him in hysterics, so Harry made sure he removed himself quickly from Ron's room. Not knowing where else to go, Harry had grabbed a blanket and set himself up on the couch in the living room of the Burrow, curled in front of the dying fire. He could go back upstairs when he was in control again, or he could just sleep down here.
The moonlight filtered in through the windows of the living room, casting ghostly shadows across the floor. Harry had pulled his blanket firmly over his head, shutting out light altogether. He huddled in the darkness, breathing deeply, and set about convincing himself that Sirius was dead, that it was no one's fault but Voldemort's, and that blaming himself wouldn't bring his godfather back.
A noise from the staircase drew Harry's attention, and he lifted the corner of the blanket slightly. Through the tiny hole, he watched a small figure in white drift down the stairs, and pause at the bottom. Harry held his breath, bewildered, and squinted through his makeshift peephole.
The figure shifted restlessly on bare feet, and a patch of moonlight illuminated the face of Ginny Weasley. Harry's eyes widened – there was no expression on her face at all. She was staring blankly into midair, uncomprehending, one hand plucking nervously at the sleeve of her long nightdress. The expressionless look in her eyes was unnerving. Gone was the famous Weasley temper, the mischievous twinkle Harry had learned she shared with the twins. She simply stared into thin air, her brown eyes dull and lifeless.
Harry didn't dare move, for fear of frightening her. He watched in alarm as she shuffled her feet and sidestepped clumsily to the window, fluttering one hand vaguely in front of her. He strained his ears, trying to catch what she was mumbling under her breath.
"I won't, I won't… not anymore, Tom, stay away from me… no, Tom…" Ginny stumbled and sat down hard on the window seat, but didn't seem to register her surroundings at all. She simply pulled her knees up beside her and huddled into a ball, still staring blankly at some unseen person in front of her.
Still, Harry did not move. She had to be sleepwalking – and by the sound of it, in the middle of a nightmare. Voldemort's very visible debut in the Department of Mysteries had apparently affected more people than Harry had realized. If Ginny was having nightmares about the Chamber of Secrets again – if she was that afraid of Voldemort regaining control over her…
Silent tears were now streaming down Ginny's face, and Harry bit his lip. She had started rocking back and forth on the window seat, and it took Harry a moment to realize that she was throwing her weight against the window itself, trying to force it open.
"Not again, you can't make me, I won't…" Ginny muttered darkly, staring at the air in front of her with loathing and fear. "Go away… go away…"
The window sprang open suddenly, and Ginny lost her balance, flinging her arms out to catch herself before she fell through the window. She recovered quickly, and scrambled backwards, still gazing defiantly at the apparition of Tom Riddle that only she could see.
Harry threw back the blanket to do something, but the flurry of a flowered dressing gown stopped him abruptly. Molly Weasley had arrived downstairs, and was at Ginny's side in a heartbeat. Flustered, Harry pulled the blanket back over his head and continued to watch as the Weasley matriarch grasped her daughter's elbow and urged her gently away from the window.
"Come on, Ginny, back to bed, love…" Molly said in a low voice, guiding Ginny back into the center of the room. The determination slowly faded from Ginny's face and she became expressionless once more, staring vacantly into space. Her mother latched the window again and turned back to take Ginny's elbow.
"Back upstairs, Ginny, there's a good girl," Molly said soothingly. "Get some sleep, and I'll make something special for breakfast."
"He's coming for me, Mummy," Ginny said plaintively, her voice distant and frightened. She sounded far younger than Harry had ever heard her in recent years. "He told me he would."
"He won't, Ginny, we'll keep him away. Riddle won't hurt you anymore, I promise."
The two Weasley women vanished up the staircase, and Harry finally emerged from underneath his blanket, shaken. He'd never seen anyone sleepwalk before. It was disturbing – the blank expression in Ginny's eyes, the slow rhythm of her pounding on the window until it opened, and the certainty that, had Molly not arrived at that moment, she would have left the house, and wandered off into the night alone. Harry hadn't had any idea what to do to stop it. He'd always been told that it was dangerous to wake a sleepwalker, and that they were often quite a bit stronger than normal while they were asleep. If he'd startled her into waking, Ginny might've just knocked him down and scrambled out of the window anyway, in her disorientation. Even asleep, he suspected her Bat-Bogey Hexes were formidable.
Lucky thing her mother had happened along…
As if on cue, Harry heard footsteps descending the stairs once more, and he panicked. He threw the blanket back over himself and held his breath. Surely it couldn't be Ginny again… What would he do if she tried to walk out the front door?
Harry winced. It was Mrs. Weasley. Sheepishly, he poked his head out from under the blanket, just enough for her to see his eyes and an unruly mop of black hair.
"I was just about to make some hot chocolate, dear – do you want some, or should I just let you get back to sleep?" Mrs. Weasley whispered to him.
Harry's eyebrows shot up. She knew perfectly well he hadn't been asleep, or she wouldn't have called his name in the first place. Without answering, Harry got to his feet, looping the blanket over his shoulders, and followed her into the kitchen.
"You saw Ginny, didn't you?" Molly asked, as she set a pan of milk to boil. She barely waited for Harry's nod before continuing. "She's been like that all summer, I'm afraid. Not just the nightmares, but she tries to leave the house. I wrote to Dumbledore about it. He supposes that she's trying to escape Tom Riddle, and doesn't even realize what she's doing. The first time it happened, I caught her halfway to the pond – I've had to set wards on her bedroom door to let me know if she leaves in the night." Molly sighed. "I'm not trying to alarm you, Harry dear. I just don't want you to think she's still – you know – being controlled. That's what she's afraid of, I think. That's what she's trying to run away from."
"So she's sleepwalking?" Harry croaked, speaking for the first time.
"Yes. She had a few nightmares after her first year, but they faded in time. Dumbledore thinks You-Know-Who has something to do with it; now that he's back, Ginny's agitated again. And it's worse this time, because it's not just a memory in a diary – he's real, alive, and she's seen him. Even though she hides it well, Ginny's more terrified than the rest of us."
"Do you think he's actually causing the dreams, now?" Harry asked worriedly. "I – I have nightmares, too… like when Mr. Weasley was attacked last year. Could he be sending dreams to Ginny, to frighten her?"
Molly shook her head. "I don't think so. He has more pressing issues than terrorizing a fifteen-year-old girl," she answered, a trace of bitterness in her voice. "I asked about that in my letter, as a matter of fact. Dumbledore thinks it's just psychological, and has no direct link to You-Know-Who. Hopefully these dreams will stop, too, just like the others did."
"What if they don't?" Harry asked suddenly. "She – you've got wards on her room here, but what about when she goes back to Hogwarts? You won't be there to – to stop her," he finished lamely.
"The Headmaster and Professor McGonagall are making arrangements," Molly replied. "Occlumency lessons, maybe – and I think they might put similar wards on her dormitory, perhaps warn the Fat Lady to keep an eye out for her. She won't get far in that case, and she certainly won't make it out of the castle before help gets there." Molly looked a great deal older as she said this, and very worried about her youngest child.
"I'll keep an eye on her, if you like," Harry said impulsively. "Ron and I are usually up pretty late working on homework, we'll help if something happens while we're in the common room. Hermione, too –" Harry paused. "Ron knows, doesn't he? About Ginny's dreams?"
"Yes, he knows," Molly answered, the tension easing from her face. She smiled wanly at Harry. "Thank you, dear… I don't want you staying up until all hours just in case Ginny has a dream, but it's sweet of you to offer. I'm sure she would appreciate it."
For some reason Harry flushed at that, and was quite glad that Mrs. Weasley had turned to finish making their cocoa, and didn't see his red cheeks. "I don't like anyone having nightmares," he mumbled defiantly. "Especially nightmares about Voldemort. Ginny doesn't deserve that, no one does."
Molly smiled down at him, a touch of motherly pride in her expression. "No, dear. No one does." She stroked his hair affectionately and set a mug in front of him, and left the kitchen without another word.
Harry stared after her for a moment, warming his hands on the mug, and wondered idly if Mrs. Weasley had been referring to his own nightmares. She had certainly given him a knowing look just then.
With a sigh, Harry turned his attention to his hot chocolate, and resolved to take Mrs. Weasley's advice and go back to bed for the night. Ron would still be snoring away, and he could probably get a few more hours of sleep before the promised breakfast, if he hurried.
Upstairs on the second floor, the youngest Weasley rolled restlessly in her sleep, her forehead puckered, but did not rise from her bed again that night.