A scream filled the home, interrupting the silence that tends to settle in the middle of the night.
In most homes a scream in the middle of the night would be alarming, it would cause the residents to rise from their beds and rush to the source of the noise at once. It would cause the children to cry, unsure what was going on, it was cause fear and it would cause panic. In most homes there was nothing worse than a scream in the middle of the night. Not in this home, in this home hardly anything in the middle of the night could cause panic, not even screaming.
The screaming did lead a boy out of bed though, causing him to creep down the stairs without a care to how much noise he made. His dark hair was a mess and glasses were crookedly perched on his nose. He didn’t care. It was the middle of the night after all.
A stair creaked.
In most homes stepping onto a creaking step in the middle of the night would lead to trouble. In most homes whoever it was sneaking out of bed would pause, squeeze their eyes shut and pray that no one had heard it. Perhaps a parent would come out and scold the child, or perhaps they’d manage to continue with the mischief they were planning. None of that happened here.
James knew that there was nothing to be worried about; he knew that there was no way a creaking step could be heard above all of the other commotion that filled the Potter house at night. Tonight, was the same as every other night for as long as he could remember, the night was filled with noise. In this house screaming in the middle of the night was hardly alarming, even to the children.
Silently he made his way to the doorway of his younger brother’s room, and pushed on the door just a tad. Poking his head inside James was relieved to see that Albus was fast asleep as always. In some ways James hated the way that his brother could sleep through everything when he himself could not, even though he knew that he shouldn’t be. Albus was just lucky, he just happened to be a heavy sleeper, and because of that James figured the boy was oblivious to the happenings each night in the Potter household.
Closing his brother’s door tightly, James turned and continued his way down the hall pushing thoughts about fairness out of his mind. The world wasn’t fair, and besides, he knew that he hadn’t been dealt the worst hand. As he continued he didn’t bother to hesitate when he stepped on a creaky floorboard, neither it nor the creaky step was ever going to be noticed. Reaching the next doorway James paused, though he didn’t dare push the door open as he had with the other.
James never dared to push open the door to his parent’s room in the middle of the night. He knew that they were awake, yet that didn’t mean they needed to know that he was awake. The boy was only ten and wasn’t sure about much, nevertheless he was sure that his father would never want his children to see him in the state he was in. Gently sitting down in front of the door James pressed his ear to the wood, listening to the familiar sounds he heard most nights. To some the noise might be frightening, however to James it was calming, it was familiar.
He could hear his father’s sobbing; sometimes there were names mixed in, or mutterings of various events, though not tonight. Tonight all he could hear was his father’s heartbreaking sobs, and the soothing voice of his mother telling him that everything was going to be okay. Even though he knew that it wasn’t aimed at him, sometimes he pretended that it was. He knew it was silly, because his mother had no idea he was out of bed; still it was comforting to think that she did. James was sure that if she knew, his mother would come tell him everything would be okay too.
His mother was oblivious though, she had no idea that her son knew what was happening at the moment, and that was the way that James wanted it. He was sure his mother wouldn’t be pleased to find that the screaming woke the children, and James didn’t want her to have anything else to worry about. That didn’t mean no one knew he was awake.
Lily knew, Lily always knew.
James wasn’t surprised to see the figure of his younger sister lumbering silently down the hallway towards him, her blanket dragging behind her. She was young, nearing six years old, and she had already caught on to what happened in the middle of the night. And while sometimes he wished that it was Albus, not Lily that sat with him on the other side of the door, he figured she was better than no one.
Neither uttered a word, they never did, there was no need.
Lily always seemed to know exactly when he reached the door, and she’d come staggering out of her bedroom and sit next to him. Sometimes she’s press her ear against the door, maybe to listen to the reassuring words of him mum with him, and other nights she’d lean against her brother. Tonight she did the latter, listening to the rise and fall of her brother’s chest as he listened to the soothing words of his mother. It was helpful to them both, making the situation less bleak, making them feel less alone.
They sat there a long time that night.
When his mothers calming words ended, it was clear to James that his father had finally fallen back to sleep. He knew that he should be in bed too, and he gently shook his practically sleeping sister off of him. James watched her deep red hair disappear into her room, her gold and red Gryffindor blanket trailing behind her. He gathered himself off the floor and head back to his own room, pausing again outside his brother’s door.
Pushing it open he noticed that Albus hadn’t moved an inch, he was oblivious to the fact that his entire family had just come together, though not in a pleasant way. He would never know. They would wake in the morning and everything would be okay, they’d all have smiles plastered to their face and Albus would never know what he missed out on. Even if it made the boy angry at times, James knew that it was better this way and he pulled the door closed for the last time that night.
Albus would never know what happened in the Potter home while he was sleeping.
A/N: The characters do not belong to me, but the plot does. This was written for JLHufflepuff's 'Said Is Dead' Challenge, and Jenna822's 'Color Me the Next Generation' Challenge.
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