8th October, 2008
Large, purplish grey clouds rolled across the sky, bringing with them a ferocious storm. Thunder clapped loudly as hammering rain pounded against the windows of Albus Potter's bedroom, waking him instantly from sleep. The young boy sat upright in his small bed, looking worriedly towards the window where the sounds of the storm could still be heard. It was very loud and, for a boy of just three years old, very scary.
Albus' green eyes widened as lightning flashed through his pale blue curtains. The accompanying cracking sound and rumble of overheard thunder was enough to fill those eyes with warm tears.
He lay back down in his bed, staring straight at the ceiling and trying to fall back asleep, all the while his bottom lip quivering. Be a big, brave boy like James, Albus thought to himself furiously, be brave like Daddy is at work, be brave like Mummy when a bludger comes near. As yet more thunder sounded, Albus knew it was no good. This storm was far too scary to sleep through. He just wasn’t brave enough.
The small, dark-haired boy climbed out of bed, clutching his beloved stuffed dragon (Gryffindor) to his chest tightly and slowly and quietly eased his bedroom door open. Padding across the landing carefully, he pushed the door of his parents' bedroom open a tiny crack and peered around it.
They were both sleeping peacefully as Albus walked over to the side of the bed where his mother slept. His father’s arm lay loosely across her shoulders in sleep and Albus felt slightly envious that he had to sleep all alone. He was even more envious at the sight of his baby sister Lily, curled up silently in her little crib, just feet from Harry’s sleeping form
Even my baby sister is braver than me, Albus thought glumly, giving Gryffindor’s wing a squeeze. His lip was still quivering and those tiny tears still on the verge of spilling over.
“Mummy.” he whispered, Gryffindor hanging by his side. “Mummy!” his whisper got louder. She didn't move.
Albus decided to take matters into his own hands and he gently climbed onto the foot of bed and crawled in between his parents, bringing Gryffindor with him. He decided that he wouldn’t wake them but maybe he would be able to get to sleep if he was between them. He remembered his father explaining that Mummy was very tired because baby Lily didn’t sleep much and then the next day, his mother explaining that Daddy was very tired because baby Lily didn’t sleep much. The overall impression was that both Mummy and Daddy were very tired and it was sort of, somehow, baby Lily’s fault.
“Al? Is that you?” Ginny asked, stirring as Albus crawled across her. Albus stopped where he was in the centre of the bed, halfway towards his goal of being snuggled between his parents, and looked at her forlornly. He was secretly pleased she had woken up.
“Scary rain Mummy!” he told her in a whisper which woke Harry.
“Al? Did you have a bad dream?” he asked, his voice croaky with sleep.
“The storm.” Ginny explained as she lifted the duvet, allowing Albus to crawl beneath it. Harry mumbled understanding as he put an arm around Albus and kissed the top of his hair.
“Nothing to be afraid of son.” He whispered, and Albus saw his eyes dart to Lily who was still sleeping. “You’re safe here.”
Albus curled into Harry’s side, allowing himself to be soothed by his father’s careful, methodical stroking of his hair. The tears from before had disappeared and Albus felt brave again. There was silence for a few minutes until it was promptly broken by the bedroom banging open loudly and four-year-old James running into the room in a panic.
“Mummy, Daddy, Al's missing!” he shouted at the top of his voice as he bounded across the room, a stark contrast to his younger brother’s careful, quiet entrance.
“James, stop shouting right now. It's the middle of the night.” Ginny reprimanded him quickly, sitting up in bed to receive the flailing figure that was her son. She carefully held his shoulders and felt his little body shaking.
“But Al's gone missing! I heard the storm so I went to check Al was ok and he's not in his bed! He might have been kidnapped by a Hippogriff!” James gave his mother an annoyed look, clearly upset she hadn't grasped the enormity of the situation.
“Kidnapped by a Hippogriff? Where do you get these things James?” Harry asked as he sat up in bed and put his glasses on, a gesture that showed he knew sleep was a far-distant dream for the time being. His hand was still placed protectively over Albus’ head, who was still cuddled into Harry’s side.
“Dad!” James decided to appeal to his father instead. “Al's been kid-”
“Al's right here.” Harry interrupted his son's enthusiastic story and gestured to where Albus lay in the middle of the bed, trying desperately to get back to sleep despite the interruptions around him. He lay with his eyes determinedly closed as James peered at him as if he didn't believe that he was really there.
“Oh.” James stated simply.
A faint snuffle gave way to a small cry from the crib in the room; James' yelling had obviously woken baby Lily up too. Ginny sighed heavily, and went to push herself out of bed.
“Got it.” Harry said quickly to Ginny and he carefully detached himself from Albus, who rolled over and snuggled into his mother instead. As Harry got out of bed, James took his place next to Albus, but he instead chose to sit cross legged on the bed with his back to Harry and Lily., facing Albus and his mother
“I wasn't scared of the storm Mummy.” James told her loudly; he apparently had no intention to go back to sleep.
“I’m not scared! I’m brave!” Albus stated defiantly from where he was still curled into his mother’s side. “Brave like James, and Mummy and Daddy…” his little voice tailed off sleepily.
James continued. “Well, maybe I was scared a little bit. But not very much. I am four now.”
Since his birthday in July, James had been telling anybody who would listen that he was ‘four now’ and explaining all the extra privileges this entitled him to. Time for bed? Not for James, he was four now. Harry and Ginny having an adult conversation about work? James was in it too, he is four now. Youngest brother been kidnapped by a hippogriff? That was a job for big brother James, who is four now.
Ginny laughed lightly at her son’s serious assertions and pulled him in to join her cuddle with Albus. “You’re both my big, brave boys. And sometimes, just sometimes, big, brave boys need to be brave with their big, brave Mummy and Daddy. Especially when there’s a storm. James sweetie, it's night time now so that means you need to be asleep. You've already woken your sister up.” Ginny told him as she gestured to where Harry stood by the window, bouncing his crying little girl around expertly.
He turned, as if sensing eyes on him, and came over to join his family on the bed. Baby Lily was still wailing softly from where she was tucked into Harry’s arms. Harry adjusted her and held her in his arms, placing her across his body with her head tucked into the crook of his neck so he could sit on the bed against the pillows. Lily’s cries quietened as she tangled her little fist into a lock of Harry’s long hair.
“I didn't mean to wake Lily up Mummy! I thought Al had been kidnapped!”” James shouted, seemingly worried he was in trouble. Lily's cries increased again at the loud noise and Harry took a sharp intake of breath as she tugged on his hair.
“James, stop shouting.” Ginny whispered to get her point across. James was silent for a second.
“I didn't mean to wake Lily up Mummy. I thought Al had been kidnapped.” he repeated, this time in a whisper.
Harry laughed as he used one hand to support Lily, the other tactfully removing her vice grip on his hair where she was still resting on his shoulder.
“Back to bed now then James.” he said to his indignant son as baby Lily nodded off, her head drooping onto her polka dot pyjamas.
“But Al's allowed to stay in here!” he forgot to whisper as he pointed to where his younger brother had fallen asleep, curled into Ginny's side.
“Well you are four now.” Ginny whispered quietly, careful not to wake Albus.
“That's right. I'm four.” James stated proudly as he padded across the carpet to the door. Harry followed, carrying a sleeping Lily to put her back to bed too.
“I'll be in to tuck you in in a minute James.” Harry said as James hovered by the door and baby Lily was placed back into her crib, sleeping softly.
James pushed open his bedroom door, trying hard not to feel jealous that Albus got to stay in their parents' bedroom. He may have been four now, but he would still have liked to stay there too. The storm was certainly not right overhead anymore, but that didn’t make the pounding rain and distant thunder any more comforting to sleep through. His small, golden snitch nightlight (which was enchanted to softly glow until James fell asleep or if he woke up) gave the room a warmth but James was already thinking wistfully of his parents’ cosy bed as he climbed back into his own.
“Goodnight Jamesy.” Harry said quietly as he eased the duvet over his oldest son. He stroked James’ dark red hair away from his forehead and kissed it softly. “I love you so much, my big brave boy.”
“Goodnight Daddy.” James smiled and closed his eyes, feeling brave with his father right there. Harry waited for his son’s breathing to even out, gazing at him full of adoration. He padded quietly out of the room, the pounding rain masking his footsteps well as he returned to his own bedroom where Ginny and Albus slept soundly and Lily was (for now) still asleep.
Ginny awoke first the next morning, the weak morning sunlight telling her it was still early, and listened for her daughter’s cries of wanting to be fed. She glanced to the crib first which was empty so Ginny knew where she would be. Sure enough, Harry was sat up in bed, slumped back against his pillows with his head lolling to one side as he dozed, their little girl tucked neatly into the crook of his arm. She was such a Daddy’s girl.
Lily began to stir and Harry’s eyes opened blearily at her movements. He squinted down at his daughter, his glasses on the bedside table, and looked over to Ginny, who was smiling at them both. Harry carefully passed Lily, who was starting to fuss for a feed, over to Ginny, ensuring he didn’t wake their sleeping son who lay between them.
Little Albus stirred in his sleep and turned over, as Ginny positioned Lily across her chest and Harry wrapped an arm protectively around her shoulders. It was silent in the room, other than the faint breathing of Albus and tiny noises from Lily and another small snuffle from further away. Harry gestured, wordlessly to the end of the bed where the tiny, sleeping form of James could just be seen where he was curled up like a cat at the end of the bed. The couple shared a sweet glance and then both looked away, grinning.
“Who can’t handle three kids now, mum?” Ginny asked, jokingly.
“Calm down. This might be the first time this has ever happened.” Harry replied in a low voice.
“How’d we make such cute kids?” Ginny said, looking between James, Albus and Lily admiringly.
A movement at the end of the bed told them James had awoken and he wriggled his small body up so he was facing his parents, both of whom were giving him looks of mild questioning. He stared at them indignantly.
“The storm was loud! I couldn’t just leave you all! I am four now!”