A tiny sound woke Harry Potter. For a moment he lay silent, listening to his roommates sleep. Perhaps he had simply imagined the noise, but after the day and night he had just endured, he was a bit jumpy. He opened his eyes and reached for his glasses, pushing them onto his face. The sound had come from outside his four-poster bed, somewhere off to his left. There was nothing but his wardrobe and a stone wall in that direction, as all of his roommates’ beds were on his right.
Harry sat up and parted the curtains. A shaft of moonlight from the window illuminated the wall, but at first, he saw nothing that could have made any noise. Then his gaze dropped lower. There, sitting on the bare, stone floor with her back against the wall, was Ginny Weasley.
A blanket was wrapped around her shoulders, partially covering a long, flannel nightgown. Her wand was clenched in one white-knuckled fist, but it pointed harmlessly at the ceiling. She did not look as terrifyingly pale as she had a few hours earlier, but her wide eyes were far from calm as they stared into the space under his bed. A moment after he spotted her, she noticed him. Her eyes rose to meet his, and her face slowly flushed scarlet.
He expected her to bolt away from him, but she sat rooted in place, watching him watch her. The tension of her face told him that her jaw was locked, and her eyes glinted with a sort of horrified determination.
“Ginny?” he asked in a whisper. “Err… what’re you doing?”
She swallowed heavily. “I… I was trying to sleep. I tried, but I… I couldn’t. So… I came here. I just… I felt better, because…” Her halting words trailed off into silence, and she gave a tiny shrug. “Never mind. I can go.”
The determination remained in her eyes, but her entire body had grown tense as she spoke the last words. Harry was not entirely sure exactly what was going on, but he had a hunch. It had been a long day for him, but it had been a long year for her.
As Ginny started to rise to her feet, Harry said, “Hang on. Err… d’you want to go down to the common room? Both of us, I mean.”
She bit her lip, and after a moment, she nodded jerkily.
“Okay,” Harry said. “Just… err… give me a minute to put on something warmer, will you?”
Ginny nodded again, finished standing, and took a step towards the dormitory door. Harry, still watching her face closely, saw her eyes widen and her nostrils flare as she moved. Her hands shook, and the tiniest quiver ran through her body. Still, determination shone from her expression alongside the rest.
“Wait,” Harry said, becoming more certain of why she was there. “You don’t have to leave yet, if you don’t want to. Just… face the other way, all right?”
She stopped near the foot of his bed, not turning towards him, and her tremors seemed to fade. After a moment of perfect stillness, she nodded.
Even in late May, the castle was cool at night, and Harry did not fancy wrapping himself in a blanket as Ginny had done. He slipped out through the gap in the curtains and yanked open his wardrobe. Standing as far from her as he could get, he shed his pyjamas and quickly pulled on a jumper, a pair of jeans, and some thick woollen socks. He picked up his wand from the small table next to the bed. “Okay,” he said.
Ginny glanced at him and then walked to the door. Harry followed, careful not to let her get more than a few steps ahead. Together, they descended the stairs to the empty common room.
“Err… let’s go there,” Harry said. He led Ginny to the sofa closest to the fire, and she sat at one end. After lighting the fire with his wand, he sank onto the other end of the same sofa. He watched her as she gazed into the dancing flames, but she soon began to fidget. Harry realised he was staring, and with a guilty start, he turned away and looked determinedly at the fireplace.
After a few minutes, Ginny spoke in a whisper that was barely audible, even in the deserted room. “I could hear you,” she said. “When… when he was… you know… trying to come back. I couldn’t move… or speak or… or stop him, but…”
Harry stole a look at her. Ginny was staring into the fire, her knees pulled up to her chest and her fist clenched around her wand.
“I could hear you,” she muttered. “Both of you.”
She fell silent again, and Harry tried to think about what she must have heard, tried to recall exactly what he and Tom Riddle had said. She knew, if she had not already known, precisely what had been happening to her and why. “Do you remember any of those times? When he was… making you do things?” he asked, knowing she might not answer.
“No,” she whispered. “Just… before and after. Like he said. I knew odd things were happening, but… He was always… nice. He had an explanation for everything.” He felt her shudder. “I didn’t know.”
“I didn’t either,” Harry said.
Ginny turned and glared at him. “You had it for a few days. I had it for months.”
He nodded. “I know.”
“I feel so stupid,” she said, her voice urgent and less controlled. “He was right about that.”
Harry furrowed his brow, trying to decide how to say what he thought was right. “I don’t think you’re stupid,” he said at last. “I think… well, he’s Voldemort, isn’t he? You… you dealt with him for all that time without… you know, giving up. When you figured out something was wrong, you did your best to fight him. That’s not being stupid, that’s…” He remembered the fierce expression she had worn upstairs at his bedside. “That’s being strong, I’d say.”
With a soft sigh, he added, “I let him pull me into that thing after about five minutes. I believed him, too, even though he framed Hagrid.”
She looked into the fire again. Harry said nothing and tried to watch her without being obvious about it. She pulled her loose ponytail over her shoulder and fiddled with the end of it, but her shoulders were not quite as stiff as they had been a few minutes before.
A short while later, she spoke again. “Thank you, Harry.”
He was not sure exactly what she was thanking him for, but he decided that it made no difference. “You’re welcome.”
The cushions beneath him shifted, and a quick glance told him that Ginny had moved so that she was leaning against the arm of the sofa. “You can go if you want,” she said in a quiet voice.
Harry considered it. Her knees were still bent, but her position looked like she was simply curling up comfortably on the sofa rather than clutching herself for security. As he looked at her bare feet, peeking out from beneath the edge of her blanket, Harry was suddenly struck by her size. He was a bit small for his age, but Ginny was tiny. He had once heard that size did not matter, and he realised with a bit of pride that the old saying was entirely correct.
Before the delay after Ginny’s offer became awkward, he said, “Think I’ll stay here a while.”
“Okay,” she said, her voice now soft instead of quiet.
Harry sat still, and within a few minutes Ginny’s breathing became steady and shallow. Turning to face her, he saw that she was sleeping with her head on the arm of the sofa and her feet within an arm’s length of his body.
He stoked the fire again and settled more comfortably into the sofa. He doubted that he would sleep, but he would keep her company and wake her before anyone else came down from the dormitories. Tonight, she needed rest more than he did, even if it was only for a few hours.
Missing a night of sleep would not be fun, but it was far easier than slaying a Basilisk.
AN: I know this story idea has been done before, but what can I say? The bunny bit, and I wrote. I hope this rendition is different enough (and mostly canon-compliant enough) to remain interesting.