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Late One Night
By BrightFeather

Disclaimer: If you think they belong to me, you're sadly mistaken. I hugged them, squeezed them, called them George, then gave them back like a good girl. All things Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling.

Author's Note: This is not in any way related to my other story; this is just a little vignette that wouldn't leave me be. We all know that Harry's first memory of being hugged was after the Tri-Wizard Tournament in the fourth book. As far as he knows, he hasn't been hugged since his parents died. But what if he was wrong? What if he'd gotten a hug or two that he just didn't remember from our favorite Wizarding family? This is set sometime after Fred, George, and Ron rescue Harry from the Dursleys in the second book.

Harry woke me up. Now, I know he didn't mean to; I mean, I shared a dorm with him last year, and the poor bloke has some pretty bad nightmares. I can hear him mumbling from the other side of the room. The words are indistinct, but after the twins and me rescued him yesterday, I've got a pretty good idea what it's about. Bloody Dursleys.

I wish I knew what to do. Last year, I learned the folly of waking Harry from nightmares. Let's just say that the results weren't pretty, but that Madam Pomfrey's bruise balm really does work well. I might've hexed anyone else who did that, but Harry's my best friend, and, well, he was asleep and didn't mean to do it. "Harry," I whisper, but I don't get a coherent response.

When I was little, Mum or Dad could always fix my nightmares and make them go away. From what little I saw at the Dursleys and at Hogwarts last year, Harry's never had that. Last year, Jeanne Smithfield, one of the other first years, got taken away from her parents because they were hurting her. I think she's living with a foster family now. Sometimes I think that those nasty muggles Harry lives with hurt him, too, but I don’t know for sure. I think that they populate his nightmares instead of imaginary monsters.

Quietly, I slide out of bed and tiptoe out of the room, suppressing the urge to curse when I stub my toe on my school trunk. I creep down the hall to my parents' room. "Mum?" I call softly. I think that maybe she can help Harry. I mean, she's always helped with my bad dreams, and Harry's my best friend!

"Hm?" is the sleepy answer. "What's the matter, Ronnie?"

"Mum, um, Harry's having a bad nightmare."

Her eyes open fully, and she sits up. "Go back to bed," she orders softly. "I'll be there in a few minutes."

I pause long enough to watch as she pulls on a dressing gown over her nightgown and jams her feet into slippers. By the time I'm about to climb back into my own bed, Mum shows up. Quietly, she picks her way through my messy room and sits down on the side of Harry's bed. His nightmare seems to be getting worse rather than better, actually. Sometimes I really worry about him, you know?

I scramble under my own blankets and watch as Mum gathers him up and settles him in her lap. She puts her arms around him and begins to hum softly as she rocks him back and forth as if he were a little kid, occasionally rubbing his back.

She used to do that for me and Ginny and my brothers. I think she still would if we needed it just because she loves us. Maybe she'll decide to love Harry, too. Maybe he'll get taken away from his sorry excuse for a family and come and be my brother. I'd like that.

Slowly, Harry calms down and leans against her as his breathing evens out. Mum settles him back in bed and tucks him in before coming over to do the same for me. "That was a kind thing you did, Ron," she murmurs. "I'm proud of you."

I can feel the heat rushing towards my ears and I know I'm blushing. "Thanks, Mum," I mutter, embarrassed. I couldn't have done anything else, could I? Harry is my best friend, and best friends stick by each other and help each other. She kisses me on the cheek, then walks over and drops one on Harry's forehead before leaving the room.

Sometimes I wish I could give Harry what he really wants, but it's not really possible. I've known since the Mirror of Erised that Harry's biggest desire is to have his family back. I mean, not even necromancers can really bring back the dead, can they? The only thing I can do is share my family with him. He is my best friend, after all--even when he has nightmares and wakes me up.