It wasn't unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night, panting and drenched in sweat, my own screams echoing in my ears, flashes of my dreams still dancing in front of my eyes.
Not a day went by without my brain reliving every second of The Explosion.
I still remember the feeling of unease as the men came running from the other room across from me, yelling and screaming, shoving the people in their way aside.
I wonder if they were hoping they would escape.
I can still see the white flash of an explosion, the ringing in my ears, the taste of dust and plaster raining down on my head, the scent of metallic blood everywhere, on my hands, on the floor,
on the people and limbs scattered around me.
Usually, when I would awaken from one of these nightmares, the sheets tangled around me damp with my sweat and my heartbeat throbbing in my chest,
there would be a soft rustle at my side and an alarmingly pale, thin arm would wrap around my torso, pulling me into a cool chest clothed in a black t-shirt,
black curls tickling my nose as slightly chapped lips pressed softly against my forehead; Boris.
His fingers would rub small circles on my back, his other hand would tangle into my hair and gently run through it, nails scraping against my scalp the way he knew I liked.
Our legs would tangle together, bodies as close as humanly possible as I trembled against him.
Boris would pause the circles on my back and tug the blankets around me, securing them around my shoulders so I wouldn't be cold before his hand quickly returned to the gentle circles.
From his lips, still resting softly on my forehead, came sweet nonsense words, some in English, but most in Russian assuring me that I was safe, everything was okay; "just sleep, shhh,
Potter is only me." The terror was still there, it would never go away completely, but with Boris there cradling me in his arms, I would feel so much safer.
His gentle breaths and soft humming in Russian would slowly lull me back to sleep,
his scent of beer and cigarettes mixed with an entirely foreign scent reminding me vaguely of freshly cut wood that was just Boris brought me comfort,
my invisible security blanket as I nuzzled my head into his neck, tucking my arms between our stomachs and breathing slowly.
When morning came I would always open my eyes to find him reading quietly next to me,
one arm still wrapped protectively around me while the other balanced his worn copy of The Idiot in Russian on his lap.
I never awoke to him sleeping, nor to an empty bed after one panicked morning waking up to find him missing,
(he had just gone to make some tea) and tearing through the house screaming his name in blind terror that he had left me.
After that morning (I think I'd scared him shitless) he always waited for me to wake up before he left,
and while part of me felt guilty for his trouble I also was comforted that I never had to fear waking up alone.
This night, however, was different. I didn't shoot up in bed as I usually did, eyes were blown wide as I searched the room for any signs of danger and my mother.
Instead, I slowly became aware of a soft tapping sound coming from someplace vaguely behind me,
loud enough to slowly wake me but not enough to send me into a fit of anxiety over possible intruders.
It was the first night ever since The Explosion that I'd awoken in the middle of the night from causes other than horrid flashbacks.
For a moment, I relished in the peace that thought brought me, my shoulders sagging from the tension I hadn't known I had and my head shifting slightly on the pillow.
Soon the soft tapping became a borderline annoyance, and I very slowly (as not to wake Boris) rose to a sitting position on the bed, careful not to disturb the blankets very much.
My first glace was to my left towards the wall where Boris always slept (he'd always seemed to like having his back to a wall) only to my surprise it was empty,
the blue sheets (he'd brought me colorful ones) wrinkled and messy as though their occupant had left with haste.
Panic was the first to bubble in my stomach, the traces of peace draining from my body as my mind came up with all the horrid possibilities to explain his absence from the bed.
A glance to my right at the alarm clock read 3:16 am,
and while I tried very hard to assure myself that the most likely possibility was that he'd simply gone to use the bathroom or to fetch himself a glass of water, my body was cold and tense.
We had spent so much time together that the mere thought of being apart made my heart rate climb high, my fists to clench tightly, and my muscles to grow tense.
The actuality of being separated from Boris, who I'd grown to think of as mine and I his, brought the pressing weight of tears behind my eyes and my body went cold.
My ears once again registered the soft tapping noise coming from across the room and my eyes followed it, landing on the dark form of my friend perched on the windowsill,
lacking his usual bird-like grace as he slumped on the edge of the wall, one leg drawn to his chest and the other dangling in the air.
In his left hand, he held a cigarette, halfway smoked with the ash scattered on the windowsill and on the floor from the slight breeze coming through,
blowing his curls around his head in a rather artsy way. Boris' left hand rested in his lap, though it lacked the usual copy of The Idiot that it normally held in times like this.
My fear was slowly draining away, replaced with confusion. I quietly crept out of bed and tiptoed to his side, though he didn't seem to notice me.
His eyes were glassy but they lacked the redness that always seemed to rim them when he took drugs.
Boris was staring at something in the distance of the desert, his mind still not registering my presence beside him.
I peered out the window, but I could see nothing that might have caught his interest.
"Boris?" I called softly and was startled when he flinched rather violently, his head snapping towards me while one hand went to the corner of the ledge to steady himself.
His eyes were now fixed on me, wide and less glassy then they were before.
There was something about the way he looked at me that almost rang familiar in my head in an alarming way, but I couldn't place my finger on it.
Instead, I glanced back at the alarm clock, the red glowing numbers now reading 3:28 am, before my gaze returned to his.
"It's late, why are you up?" I asked, stepping closer to him. Boris' dark eyes shifted in the direction of the clock, something flashing through them before returning to me.
His gaze, which had reminded me of a startled child, melted into nonchalance.
He plastered a loopy smirk on his lips, obviously fake even in with the shield of darkness, tilting his head to the side before explaining, "Couldn't sleep," in a raspy voice,
almost as though he had been crying. My hand gently bumped his and immediately my attention switched to his skin, which was icy to the touch.
"Shit, Boris, you're freezing," I muttered, suppressing my own shiver as I reached behind him to shut the window.
Boris shrugged, staring at something behind my head, the same glassy look in his eyes as before had returned.
For a second, I simply stared at him, before giving his arm a soft tug in the direction of the bed. Boris resisted, shaking his head with an odd smile on his face.
"Can't sleep." He repeated to me, and I rolled my eyes.
"Better to try at least," I protested, giving his arm another tug. Boris was silent for a moment.
"Sleep Potter, do not worry. I will come back later, eh?" Boris' tone seemed casual, almost too casual for my liking.
My stomach ached slightly, something was wrong, but Boris was right,
I did need sleep and I assumed it wouldn't harm anything to let him remain at the window until his eyelids felt as heavy as mine.
Still, I lingered for a moment, a small frown on my face as I watched Boris scratch the back of his head. He did that whenever he was nervous.
"Come back soon, though," I said softly, unsure of myself as I slowly backed away from the window and towards my side of the bed.
Boris nodded at me, and I slipped back into bed, falling asleep almost immediately as my head hit the pillow.
I awoke the next morning in the typical fashion, Boris' arm around me as he read from his book. I shifted in bed, alerting him that I was awake as I propped myself up on my elbows.
"You end up coming back to bed last night?" I asked. Boris didn't hesitate, offering me both a "yeah" and a vigorous nod, but the dark shadows under his eyes told me the truth.
They had been growing darker for as long as I can remember now.