The darkness of the night outside was broken with flashes of red and green lights, the silence broken by muffled yells and screams of her peers. Niamh was on her own. She needed to find someone, anyone, to help her get to safety.
She wiped at her face with the back of her hand, her wand gripped firmly in the other. She looked to find a mixture of blood and dust across her knuckles. Her breathing quickened as she felt the air grow cold around her. Her already frazzled emotions disappearing and being replaced by despair.
The dementors were close.
She ran from her spot but soon the floor shook beneath her feet, making her come to a grinding halt. She looked around to find the source of the shaking. She couldn't see a thing in front of her.
Before she could move again there was a loud explosion and the walls and roof surrounding Niamh gave way, the stone castle collapsing on top of her. Her screams never escaping her own lungs.
Niamh shot bolt upright in her bed. Her breath short and shallow. Her body was drenched in a cold sweat. Her hands gripped her bed sheets, her eyes darting around the room.
She wasn't in the castle. She wasn't fighting for her life.
She was in her own bedroom, in her own bed.
She was safe.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead and swung her legs out of the bed. She reached her chest of drawers and pulled out a fresh pair of pyjamas with shaking hands. She peeled her t-shirt over her head and pulled the new one on, before doing the same with her trousers.
Her mind was now to frazzled to even consider sleeping again. She moved slowly through her room, grabbing her wand as she passed her desk. The leaf pattern on the sycamore wood resting gently in her hand as she crept forward slowly to the door.
"Lumos " she whispered as she opened her bedroom door slowly and creapt quietly down the stairs. Although careful to avoid the creaky bottom step, she still managing to make noise as she went. She sighed deeply but continued on her way to the kitchen.
Once there she grabbed a glass and ran the tap for cold water. She filled it up all the way before downing half the glass in one mouthful.
"Niamh? Is that you?" Her mother's voice broke the silence of the night.
"Yeah mum, in the kitchen" Niamh answered.
Her mother stepped into the kitchen and flicked on the lights as Niamh muttered Nox, blinking rapidly to adjust her vision and the light on the tip of her wand extinguished.
"What's got you up?" Her mother asked.
"I think you know" Niamh muttered.
"Sweetheart, it's been over a year now. Do you not think it's time to try and stop these now?" Her mother promoted, while swiftly tidying up with a flick of her own wand.
Niamh's mother, Anne was an accomplished witch. She had been a Hufflepuff while she attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. She spent her time after school caring for magical creatures and now her focus was mainly Owls. She was well known in the wizarding community for her magic touch in healing owls that people brought to her.
Niamh herself had been a Slytherin while at school and followed after her mother and looked after magical creatures. Business had picked up again for the two of them now the war was over.
The war had been tough on their business, they just about scraped by, they did the best they could before going into hiding for a while. Niamh had returned to the school the night the Dark Lord had attacked Hogwarts. She had been part of Dumbledore's Army in her final year and the moment she got word, she went to help at the battle.
Although good triumphed over evil that night, it came with a price. Niamh herself had nearly died that night as well as losing friends, especially Fred Weasley. Niamh found herself nearly crushed to death when part of the castle had been hit by several curses as the night reached dawn, but was rescued from the rubble by Charlie Weasley.
Niamh had spent most of the first year recovering in a bed, but now suffered terribly with nightmares. Her body had healed from the trauma in St Mungos, but her subconscious kept it fresh in her sleeping mind. The first few months she'd wake screaming from fear. Always waking her mother up, every night.
Now she awoke every night like she had done tonight, most of the time she could lull herself back to sleep but on nights she couldn't, her mother always found her.
"No. I'm fine. It's getting better, I promise" Niamh said, hoping her mother would let it go and let her go back to sleep.
Her mother eyed her from across the kitchen and sighed to tired to argue, "Fine. But back to bed for now"
Niamh nodded and made her way out of the kitchen. She paused briefly to press a kiss to her mothers cheek before climbing the stairs back to her room.
Niamh closed the door quietly and pressed her back against the wood. She took a deep breath and made her way back to her bed.
She lay under the covers, making herself comfortable against the pillows. She closed her eyes and tried meditation like she had read in a muggle book about stress. Niamh found it to be a bit of nonsense, all this breathing and focusing 'on the breath'. She'd always found muggle healing a strange but fascinating subject.
Some though was just nonsense, like this meditating. She rolled over onto her side and thought of Fred Weasley.
He'd been one of her best friends at school. He was always making her laugh and involving her in trouble when a prank would backfire. They may have been from houses that supposedly hated one another, the pair were famous for making sure that stereotype was nonsense. They were always together, she kept him in check and he brought out the fun in her.
She missed Fred dearly, but he wasn't the only one she missed.
Fred's twin brother George had always a special place in Niamh's heart. She had fancied him in her years at school, from the time they were thirteen. The pair finally getting together in their 7th and final year, shocking everyone except Fred. He had claimed credit for it happening, having charmed a game of spin the bottle one night in the Gryffindor common room.
They had stayed together once they left school, George had become busy with the joke shop and Niamh studying further in order to help her mother at home, it was tough but they always made time for one another.
Once the war really began, the pair decided it was for the best to break up, to keep each other safe. That fact still didn't mean it broke both their hearts any less. The last time they had been together as a couple was the week before the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. Also with the post being intercepted by the Ministry and the fear of death eaters finding out where you were hiding so you could be tortured for information on the whereabouts or Harry Potter, it made everyone lose touch.
Niamh's mind wandered to George. The fact they'd briefly shared a moment before going into battle. Niamh remembered how his lips brushed off hers for a split second before he kissed her with such passion that it made her knees weak. Both had promised the other they'd stay alive for each other.
And then they had been separated, fighting for their lives in different parts of the castle and Niamh hadn't seem him since.
She wondered about him everyday, how he was, what he was up to, just anything at all about him. She thought about writing to him on several occasions, she had started several letters but could never finish them. And as more and more time passed she felt it would just be awkward now if she randomly wrote him a letter.
Niamh shook the thoughts from her head. It was far too late now for this, she needed her sleep as tomorrow herself and her mother were heading to London and more importantly, Diagon Alley.
She grabbed a pillow and hugged it tight to her body, letting her exhaustion take over and letting her mind fade to black.