Chapter 1 : Sleep
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Ron woke suddenly to the sound of piercing screams. The sound reflected off every corner of the bedroom and burrowed themselves into him.
Hermione lay next to him, thrashing under the blankets. She screamed again.
“Hermione, wake up, Hermione,” he said, immediately wrapping his arms around her like he’d learned to do. “Wake up, I’m here.”
The wails stopped suddenly and were instantaneously replaced by the sound of unadulterated sobs.
“Don’t hurt her, don’t hurt them,” she repeated over and over, her voice weak.
“Hermione, look at me. I’m right here.” Ron put his hands on either side of her face, which was partially obstructed by her tangled mane.
“Let him be!” she cried, whipping her arms around in manic chaos. Her hands were clenched into tight fists and Ron barely dodged a powerful blow to his head. She let out a wail and slashed her arm once more through the air. The lamp sitting on the bedside table flew across the room and slammed into the wall, the ceramic base shattering onto the floor.
“Wake up, Hermione. You’re in bed, you’re safe.”
Her sobs slowed and she opened her eyes.
“Ron, oh Ron, she had them,” she cried. Ron kissed her forehead and tasted the salty sweat on his lips. He rubbed her arms and she looked down at her hands. She slowly opened her clenched fists, and blood started to ooze from the crevices left by her nails. He pulled a few tissues from the table next to the bed and pressed them gently to her tender palms.
“Who had who?” he asked. In their years together, he’d found that it helped her if he was able to more quickly pinpoint exactly what the nightmare was. He should try to get details for this one so that in the event of it’s recurrence, he could more easily make an appeal to her rational side.
“Bellatrix,” she said, her chest heaving. “She had Rosie and Hugo.” She tugged her hands away from her husband’s and brought them down around her swollen belly. “I couldn’t protect them.”
Ron placed one hand on her cheek and the other on her abdomen. It didn’t take long for him to feel the movement of his son beneath her skin.
“Hugo is okay,” he said. “He’s in there, telling you that he’s okay.”
Hermione nodded and looked as if she was going to calm down before her eyes widened. “Rose!” she exclaimed, scrambling out of bed and rushing across the hall to the nursery.
Ron joined her, taking half a moment to repair the broken lamp so that Hermione wouldn’t see the damage she’d caused.
Inside the nursery, Hermione was leaning low over the crib.
The evening hangs beneath the moon,
A silver thread on darkened dune.
“Hermione,” he whispered softly, approaching her from behind and wrapping his long arms around her. “Rosie is right here.”
Ron wasn’t surprised that she’d slept through the ordeal. Since Hermione’s pregnancy, her nightmares had come back with more vigor and intensity than they had since just after the war ended. It wasn’t uncommon for her to wake up shrieking, and Rose had learned to sleep through the chaos. In an attempt to find the silver lining, he noted that her desensitivity would benefit her once there was a new baby in room next door.
Hermione gently ran her hands over her daughter, feeling her body to collect more evidence that her nightmare was no more than a manifestation of her anxiety. After watching Rose sleep for a few minutes, she turned around and buried her head in Ron’s chest.
With closing eyes and resting head,
I know that sleep is coming soon.
“Let’s go back to bed, okay, love?” Ron murmured into her thick hair. He felt her nod and he put one arm around her shoulder, guiding her back to the bedroom.
She sat down and the soft bed and sighed before pulling a small book out of her night stand. After scribbling the date and briefly summarizing the dream, she swung her legs up and curled onto her side.
“I’m scared,” she whispered.
“I’ll protect you,” Ron replied, mimicking her soft tone.
Upon my pillow, safe in bed,
A thousand pictures fill my head.
Protecting Hermione and their children was something Ron had pledged to do on numerous occasions. He, too, was haunted by nightmares, although they were less severe and occured with less frequency.
It was his worst nightmare, and one that had, at one time, been true.
Hermione being tortured. Hermione, Rose, and even his unborn son, being tortured. The dream was always the same. He could see them, he could even feel the pain that was being inflicted on them, but he failed continuously to help them. Hermione called out again and again, while Rosie cried, “Daddy! Daddy!”. Hugo, too young to speak, simply wailed.
“I’ll protect you,” he repeated, mostly to himself.
I cannot sleep, my mind's aflight,
And yet my limbs seem made of lead.
“Did I break the lamp?” she asked, nodding towards it. While Ron had repaired it, the location of it indicated to Hermione the events that had taken place while she was sleeping.
Ron nodded and she shook her head. “I need to stop this. It isn’t good for the baby. These nights hurt him.”
Tears once again welled up in her eyes and Ron stroked the hair out of her face. “Don’t let yourself be stressed about that,” he said. “Take care of yourself. Worrying about the baby will only make it worse. We can schedule an appointment with Healer McCarthy. He helped you with the nightmares before, didn’t he?”
She swallowed hard, fighting back the tears she was tired of crying.
If there are noises in the night,
A frightening shadow, flickering light…
“He did help,” she said. “But we used sleeping potions to help, and I can’t take those with the baby.”
Ron felt his chest tighten as he fought his exhaustion and attempted to force himself to think of a solution. He wanted to fix it.
Hermione saw his frustration and snuggled close to him. “Let’s talk about it in the morning. Rose will be up in a few hours and we both could use some sleep.”
What dreams may come, both dark and deep
Of flying wings and soaring leap.
“I want to help you,” Ron said so softly he wasn’t sure if his words were audible. He wasn’t sure if he wanted them to be.
“You do help,” she responded, reaching her hand up to caress his face. “You help me every day.”
Hermione closed her eyes and could feel herself started to melt into Ron’s embrace. Between the usual tiredness that she felt from pregnancy and the amount of energy that she lost to her panic attacks, she could never seem to get enough sleep.
As I surrender unto sleep.
“I love you,” she moaned softly.
Ron, who was always envious of his wife’s ability to fall asleep so quickly stared down at her face, which was half covered in hair. “I’ll protect you,” he whispered as he brought his hand up to stroke her back.
As I surrender unto sleep.
He looked up at the ceiling. With all they’d been through, their nights were still regularly interrupted by events that took place a decade ago. He didn’t want to sleep. He didn’t want to see the look of betrayal on Hermione’s face while he stood by and watched her be tortured.
Ron blinked. He could hear Hermione snoring softly and could feel a small pool of drool forming on his chest. He was glad - she needed the sleep more than he did.
He thought about Rosie, and wondered if she’d be haunted by the same predisposition to anxiety that made her Mum’s life hell for years. If she was, Ron hoped she wouldn’t inherit his inability to communicate about it.
Ron didn’t care to admit that he’d never worked through his pain. Almost everyone, at one point, had a breakdown. Harry’s was right after the war ended, when he went away for months without any contact. Hermione suffered for years, her stubborn attitude getting in the way of treatment. Ginny had a breakdown in the middle of a stressful Quidditch season, when the anxiety surrounding her career brought her to face everything that had happened since her first year when she was possessed.
Ron was always there. He was there for everyone. He stood by George while he fought to keep to shop open following Fred’s death. When his mother was too depressed to get out of bed, Ron and Percy learned to cook so that she didn’t stop eating.
Ron really didn’t feel badly. He’d gone ten years in his state. He was proud of his role as supporter.
He didn’t need more than a few hours of sleep a night.
His tendency to lay in bed awake came in handy when Rose was born. It let Hermione get more sleep.
Ron was okay. His dreams obviously weren’t as horrifying as Hermione’s.
Ron reviewed that year over again. He felt the guilt of abandoning his friends and the image of Hermione’s face when he returned refused to leave his mind. Her scowl refused to turn into the smile he loved so much.
He thought about the people he could’ve saved at the Battle if he’d been paying attention.
He remembered the list of the dead. He saw all of their bodies until, finally,
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