Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Jo.
Author's Note: Ariana is so enjoyable to write.
Ariana shifted irritably in her bed. She had been sitting here all day. Earlier in the morning Albus had brought her breakfast (ignoring the fact that she despised dry toast and giving it to her anyway), and later in the afternoon Aberforth had come to read to her as he did every day, but he had left quickly. She felt uneasy. She wanted her brothers.
"Abe!" she called out, hoping he could hear her from his room next door. "Abe!" Receiving no answer, Ariana tried for her other sibling. "Al!" Still, no response. She made a noncommittal whining noise in the back of her throat, becoming more irritated.
"Al!" she moaned, twirling a strand of auburn hair worriedly around her finger. Finally, in a fit of frustration, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed, rising unsteadily to her feet. If they weren't going to come to her, she would go to them.
Almost as an afterthought, Ariana ran a hand through her tangled curly hair, remembering how much it annoyed Al when she didn't brush it. Her fingers didn't do much, but she found it presentable and made her way out into the hall, shivering slightly. Her thin white nightgown didn't give her a good deal of warmth.
She made her way down the hallway, ears perked up for the sound of her brother's voices. When she reached the end of the hall, she thought she heard the vague noise of voices in the sitting room. Ariana frowned as she turned that way – she hoped that they weren't fighting again. It upset her and they knew it.
As she drew closer to her destination and the voices became clearer, her brow furrowed. One sounded unfamiliar, and she almost drew back. She didn't like unfamiliar things. But – perhaps it was only the radio. She relaxed at this thought and pressed a hand over her heart, which was beating rapidly.
The door to the sitting room was old and rusty, and when she reached out a hand to push it open it creaked loudly. Flinching, Ariana resolutely shoved it open. It was well into the evening, so there was a crackling fire in the grate, which lit up the room and let her view the occupants clearly. With a sigh of relief, she saw Albus's gangly form reclining in an armchair by the window, his bright auburn hair set off by the fiery glow. Aberforth was leaning against the opposite wall, and he seemed to be glaring at Albus, his long arms crossed angrily over his chest.
"Abe! Al!" she cried happily, rushing into the room. It was only then that she noticed there was another person in the room, which made her recoil sharply. She hated new people; they were strange and frightening. However, despite her forebodings, something made her move forward to take a second look at this boy. He looked to be the same age as Albus, but asides from that he was the complete opposite of her brother. His golden blond hair didn't reflect the firelight like Al and Abe's, but absorbed it, and unlike all three siblings his eyes were dark brown. Also contrasting the lanky family, he was short and stout, with a laughing mouth and, Ariana noticed with a giggle, had rather large ears.
"Ari!" Abe and Al gasped at the same time, Abe rushing over to her.
"Go and put on some decent clothes!" he scolded her, pressing his hand to the small of her back and attempting to push her from the room. But she wrenched herself from his grasp, earning a shocked look from both of her brothers.
"Ari, what are you doing?" Albus asked as she made her way towards him and the new boy, who was sitting on the sofa beside Al's armchair. She stood beside her elder brother, still not quite sure about the unknown person.
"What is it?" Albus tried again, a touch of annoyance in his voice. Aberforth came and situated himself on Ariana's other side.
"Hi," she murmured softly, taking a chance and addressing the blond boy. He smiled a bit bemusedly at her. Aberforth pushed once more at her back.
"Come on, Ari, let's go read," he suggested, but she gave a sharp cry and he released her instantly. Albus lent towards his friend.
"This is my sister, Ariana," he informed him, "The one I told you about? Ari, this is Gellert." She nodded mutely, beginning to twist a curl of hair around her finger nervously.
"Hi," she repeated, and, to her surprise, he took her hand in his.
"Charmed," he said, brushing his lips lightly against the back of her hand. Ariana looked towards her brothers in confusion. Why was he touching her hand? Abe and Al touched her hands all the time, but never kissed. Sometimes they kissed her forehead and even her cheek, but never her hand.
Her mystification must have showed on her face, because Gellert let out a small laugh and dropped her hand. "Sorry, force of habit. I shouldn't have." She noticed then that his voice sounded strange, as though he were from a foreign place. It put her off a bit.
"Charmed," she copied him, the words sounding odd on her lips, a new word she had never said before. Albus looked up at her amusedly.
"Abe, would you take her back to bed, please?" he asked, and Aberforth complied willingly, placing his hand on Ariana's shoulder and steering her from Al and Gellert. This time she allowed him to lead her out of the room and down the hall, and as she stepped into her bedroom she could hear the two friend's laughter ring out over the house.
Aberforth, barely concealing a scowl, helped her into bed. She lay her head on her pillow, suddenly drained, as though she had run for miles.
"Goodnight," she murmured as Abe gave her a customary kiss on the forehead. He quickly put out her lights with a flick of his wand, and she drifted slowly off to sleep, still wondering about Gellert and his big ears and bizarre voice.
Ariana opened her eyes blearily. There was sun pouring through the small window above her bed, and she threw a hand over her face to block it out. She sat up in bed, feeling well rested and hungry. Usually, Al or Abe brought her breakfast, but she didn't have the patience today. The amount of sun told her that it was much later than she normally woke up.
She slid out of bed, intent on making her way to the kitchen, when she remembered the pale blue dressing gown hanging over her chair. Fumbling, she finally succeeded in cinching it around her waist. It was her pride and joy, a birthday gift from Abe.
Ariana finally made her way out into the hallway, blinking rapidly in the sudden light. Feeling bold, she poked her head into Al's room opposite hers. It was chaotic and messy, devoid of Albus. She wanted to explore it further, for it was full of interesting looking contraptions, but her grumbling stomach overtook her, and she moved on.
The kitchen was to the left of the sitting room, and as she passed it she was assaulted by memories of Gellert from the night before. He seemed quite nice, she thought. However, her musings were interrupted by voices in the kitchen, very loud ones. Ariana winced. Al and Abe were fighting again.
She padded into the kitchen, and they broke off immediately. Al looked disheveled and Abe, disgruntled. They were standing on opposite sides of the room, Al holding his wand aloft over the stove. Both turned to look at her exasperatedly.
"Ari, go put on your clothes!" Abe sighed.
"Honestly, you practically walk around in your undergarments," Al muttered, sliding his breakfast onto a plate and sitting down at the table. Ariana was about to comply and return to her rooms when she saw what Albus had made.
"Eggs!" she said brightly, walking towards the stove and helping herself to her favorite breakfast food. She saw Al roll his eyes, but she went on to add a generous helping of salt to her eggs.
Just as she sat down beside Al to enjoy her meal, there came a sharp rap on the backdoor door. He jumped to answer it, and this time it was Abe who rolled his eyes. Ariana looked at the door wonderingly – they never had visitors.
She had just taken a bite of the sweet, salty egg when Al's visitor stepped into the kitchen and greeted Abe, and she recognised the strange voice immediately; then she almost choked on her forkful. All three boys looked at her, but she wiped at her mouth before turning to Gellert.
"Charmed!" she said happily, pleased to have remembered such a detail about their last meeting. Gellert grinned at her.
"Charmed," he repeated, taking her hand as he had the night before and brushing his lips against it. Ariana smiled blithely up at him before returning with vigor to her eggs, along with a piece of buttered toast Abe had placed in front of her, and feeling a rush of gratitude towards her brother. He knew she detested dry toast.
Al and Gellert were deep in discussion when she looked up again, this time with an empty plate. Abe was waving his wand and observing the pots and pans clean themselves, and stab of pain hit her. She wanted a wand. Why couldn't she have one? It wasn't fair.
She gave a small whimper as Al pulled out his wand and cast a charm that made the stifling heat of the summer day slowly fall away to be replaced with cool air. She could do that if she had a wand.
As these thoughts continued to swirl around her brain, a tingling sensation overtook her, spreading throughout her body. Her chest felt tight and there was a sparking feeling in her arms. Abe rushed to her side and ran a hand through her tangled hair, urging her to calm down, and slowly, ever so slowly, the sensations disappeared, and she heard both Abe and Al sigh with relief.
"Is she okay?" Gellert asked anxiously, his accent becoming thicker with his concern.
"Fine," Al assured him. "She gets that way. What were you saying?"
He was still peering apprehensively at Ariana, and she smiled weakly at him to let him know she was all right. She hated it when that happened, but it was fairly common, and she let it go with ease.
Suddenly not hungry, not even for deliciously buttered toast, she rose from the table, intent on going back to her bedroom and looking through her books. She had amassed a large collection, mostly hand-me-downs from Al, with a few presents from Abe thrown in. Her favorites were always the lavishly illustrated ones that Abe told her were called fairytales.
"Good bye," she said to the occupants of the room. Abe smiled at her from beside the counter, and Al gave her a half-glance and a nod of the head, while Gellert waved his hand at her.
She walked to Abe and gave him a kiss on the cheek as she did every morning – she did love sticking to her routine, it made everything much easier. She did the same to Al, and was interested and slightly puzzled to find that the lower part of his cheek was scratchy.
"Ouch," she murmured, rubbing at the corner of her mouth where the area had grazed. Al laughed slightly.
"It's just a few whiskers, Ari, nothing to worry about," he told her, and she studied them with curiosity for a moment before deciding it was just another of her brother's odd little quirks. Then, almost without thinking, she leaned over the table to press a small kiss to Gellert's cheek as well. After all, it wouldn't be nice to kiss her brother's and not him, especially after he had kissed her twice already.
Pulling herself back up, she didn't catch Abe's shocked face, Al's smirking one, and Gellert's strangely confused one. She continued to her room, barely hearing Abe's weak call to put on a decent outfit.
"Ari! Come take a bath!"
Ariana started. She had been deep into her fairytale world or princes and dragons and damsels in distress.
"Ari, hurry up! I haven't got all day!"
She heard the sound of water pouring into the small bathtub, and the exasperation in Al's voice was evident. Casting a forlorn glance towards her well-worn books, she heard Abe shout something to Al before entering her bedroom. He greeted her warmly and took her hand to help her from the bed. Ariana allowed him to without much thought, but then shook him off as she entered the hallway.
"Al!" she called, letting him know she was on her way. His head poked out of the bathroom, and she noticed with a small laugh that he had soap bubbles in his long mane of hair. He looked irritated however, so she stifled it with the back of her hand.
"Come on, then," he urged her as she entered the room. "Don't take too long. Abe still needs his bath tonight. I'll be in the sitting room if you need me." With that he shut the door and left her alone with her thoughts.
Ariana peeled off her long dress, grateful that she no longer had to feel the tight waist and long sleeves that seemed to stick to her skin in the summer heat. Dipping a finger into the water, she was pleased to find it wasn't too warm. At least Al had remembered that.
She slid into the bath, happy to wash away the sweat and muck she felt had infested her body. How she despised summer, nearly as much as dry toast! The warmth made her sluggish and gave her headaches.
She ran the soap over her arms and neck, delighting in the sweet smell it gave off and knowing full well that Abe enchanted it to have that scent. He was such a nice brother. While she pondered this fact, Ariana thought vaguely that she heard voices murmuring outside in the hall, but dismissed it as Abe and Al. They weren't too loud, so she was pleased that they weren't fighting and didn't bother to end her bath early.
Finally, satisfied that she was clean, she pulled herself out of the tub and popped out the stopper, covering her ears at the roaring sound as the water drained. She gave the towel Al had set out for her a disgusted look – it was the deep green one that itched when she dried herself, the one she hated. Instead she chose a soft blue towel from underneath the sink and dried herself thoroughly before tugging on her favourite pastel purple nightgown, smiling to herself. Abe and Al had given it to her last Christmas, and enchanted it to stay cool all the time.
Knowing that Abe would get the pile of clothing she had left on the floor and not really caring enough to pick them up, she quickly squeezed the remaining water out of her hair so it wouldn't drip down her beautiful nightgown and exited the bathroom, happy that it was so late in the evening heat wouldn't be so much of a problem.
As she made her way to the sitting room, Ariana felt unnecessarily pleased, even after her "magic episode" as Al called it, and sitting in her bedroom all day. But the evening was shaping up so nicely she felt that her morning and afternoon could be forgiven; at the moment all she could think of was the warm light emanating from the sitting room where she was headed, and the swish of her nightgown around her ankles, and that Abe had promised her a chocolate biscuit after dinner.
Still caught up in fantasies of her delicious dessert, Ariana pushed open the door without much thought to the voices inside the room.
She jumped, taken aback by the sudden voice. Her heart was beating so very fast and tears welled in her eyes. It wasn't Abe or Al's voice, and therefore it was bad, even though somewhere deep in her mind she recognised the thick accent . . .
"Ari, don't cry, shush, it's all right." The familiarity of Abe's soothing tone brought her back sharply to reality. Ariana was surprised to find wet streaks down her cheeks. She stared up perplexedly to find both of her brother's looking worriedly down at her, as well as a concerned looking Gellert.
"I am sorry," he said morosely. "I should not have frightened her."
"Damn right," Abe muttered, and Al shot him a look. "Don't say that, Ari," he added.
Ariana shifted. They were all leaning close to her, making her feel encompassed by their body heat. Oh, how she hated heat! She pushed lightly at Al's chest to make him move, and he obliged willingly, pulling Abe and Gellert with him.
"Give her space," he ordered in a commanding tone. She had always admired how Al could make people listen with just the way he sounded. Slowly her breathing became easier now that the cooling charm on her nightgown came into effect, as well as the chilly air from the open window across the room.
"Are you all right?" Abe asked her, placing a hand on her shoulder. Ariana nodded, regarding the three men before her. Her eldest brother was hovering between Abe and Gellert, and it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the two did not like each other. She doubted they would even still be in the same room were she herself not here. Gellert was still watching her closely, as though frightened she would relapse. Suddenly she felt very naked in her thin, flowing nightgown, and crossed her arms over her chest nervously.
"Take this cloak, Ari," Abe told her, noticing her sudden discomfort and attributing it to too much of her beloved cold air. He always insisted she would catch her death by it, one day. Wordlessly she wrapped the thick wool cloak around her and instantly felt better, more covered.
"Is she going to be okay?" Gellert spoke up. He received a glare from Abe, a quick guarantee from Al, and a nod and smile from Ariana.
She retreated to the safe confines of her bedroom, feeling much more grown up than she had before.
Now you've read it, I would appreciate your thoughts.