Author's Note: Hello! Welcome to my second story, I'm glad you're here. Please feel free to read my story (and then review it when you're done?). My hopes for this story are that it will be a long, successful, enjoyable read for you, so let me know how I'm doing in making those things happen for you.
Oh, and one more thing: I don't own the characters used in this story, but the plot is mine. The characters all belong to J. K. Rowling, so any thanks you have go to her for making this possible!
The Freaks Are Out Tonight (Chapter 1)
It was a dark, moonless night, and Hermione shivered as she walked down the street. The flickering street lamps were the only offerings of light, and Hermione secretly wished that they would just die out and stop exposing the filth of the streets to her. As if the night wasn't eerie enough on it's own, what with the treacherous wind and lack of light, some unknown being had decided that it needed to be worse for her and that she needed to see the filth in the street that she walked through. She winced as she sidestepped a man sleeping in the gutter, his hand clamped possessively around the neck of a bottle. She walked a little faster and glanced over her shoulder often, making sure that nobody was following her.
The wind howled, its scream shrill and earsplitting, and she shivered as it seeped through her clothes and nestled deep into her bones. Normally she wouldn't dream of going outside on a night like this one, but earlier that week she had received a letter from Ron and Harry, requesting that she meet them at the Leaky Cauldron later that week.
The letter was random, totally and completely. She hadn't known that Harry was at the Burrow, and she wondered, on the same thought, why she hadn't been invited earlier. Usually when they met, they met as a trio, and they usually showed up at the same time. From the way the letter was written, she had gotten the feeling that Harry had been there for a while, perhaps a few weeks. It struck Hermione as odd, but she dismissed the feeling and continued to read the letter, sighing as she finished it. She laid the letter down, storing the vague information in it in case she needed it later. As far as she could tell, it was nothing seriously urgent, but nonetheless, they requested her presence as soon as was possible.
And so here she was, walking down a filthy street in the middle of the night, going to meet with Ron and Harry in The Leaky Cauldron. She passed an alleyway and then paused, taking a moment to look around before she walked into the alley and took out her wand. She walked up to the wall, checked the area again, and tapped the pattern onto the bricks. Shortly after her tapping, the bricks on the wall moved and split apart, and an opening appeared for her to walk though. Hermione felt relief as she stepped through the bricks and felt the familiar feel of magic in the air around her.
She paused in the doorway and rolled her shoulders, trying to work some of the knots and stress out of them. Her little moonlight stroll had shaken her up more than she had realized, and she had never felt more glad to be in Diagon Alley than she was right now. As soon as her heart stopped pounding, Hermione straightened herself out, hoping desperately that she hadn't ran through the passage, and began her calm, and casual, stroll to the Cauldron.
As she walked through the streets, Hermione realized that there were quiet a few people mulling about, especially for this time of the night. She peeked through store windows and was met with nothing but darkness, meaning that the stores were closed. That meant that none of the traffic was for the stores. Hermione looked around suspiciously and quickened her pace a little bit. Tonight was a very odd night, and as she neared the Leaky Cauldron, she decided to ask Ron and Harry if they knew about anything that was going on.
Upon pushing open the doors, Hermione was assaulted with the heavy stench of alcohol and noise. It seemed that for every one person out in the street, there was four to replace them in here. Hermione grunted as someone ran past her through the doors and out into the streets. Before she could move, another large body bumped into her and ran through the doors, yelling crude words and shaking his fists as he chased after the first man. Without giving it much thought, Hermione flattened herself to one side of the doors, assuming that there would be a hoard of people following the two men out of the bar. She slowly inched her way along the way and sighed happily as she noticed Ron and Harry in the corner. The two watched her with grins, obviously giggling at her predicament. She rolled her eyes and walked toward them, thinking about all of the strange things that had happened tonight.
The two boys were already prepared for her arrival: a chair next to Ron was pulled out and a drink was waiting for her on the table. Hermione stared at it warily, but Harry waved away her doubts and said, "It just got here, and I've been watching it the entire time." She nodded and took a big gulp of the drink as she sat down at the table.
"So what on earth is so important that you two had to meet with me tonight?" She yawned, as if to support her disdain for the time of their meeting. The two noticed, cringing as she yawned. Harry attempted to lighten her mood by smiling his usual calm smile, and then he looked around, making sure that there were no extra ears in their conversation. Once he was satisfied with his results, he leaned in close and began to speak.
"I'm sure that you noticed that there was an abnormally large amount of people in the street when you were on your way here, correct?" Hermione nodded at him and took a sip of her drink again. Harry continued. "Rumor has it that something special is supposed to happen tonight." Ron placed his mug on the table and sighed.
"I told Harry that it's probably just a bar event, but he wouldn't believe me. He's determined to believe what Luna heard from her father." Hermione's gaze swiped over to Harry and he blushed, shrugging at her.
"Well, it always seems that Luna and her father know what's going on before everyone else does. I figured that maybe they'll be right about this." Harry picked up his mug and took a long swig of his drink. Hermione rolled her eyes, knowing he was only doing it to hide his red cheeks. So she turned to Ron, allowing him to continue the story.
"Luna and her father told Harry that supposedly there's supposed to be some sort of star movement tonight, and that magic will be stronger for certain witches and wizards. I think it's a load of nonsense, but Harry is determined to believe what they say." Ron gave Harry a pointed look, to which Harry helplessly shrugged his shoulders and looked away. Hermione nodded.
"But why is everyone gathered here?" She looked around and saw many different types of wizards and witches huddled in the bar. In some places, people were shoulder to shoulder with others, and she was glad that her table was relatively uncrowded, although she wondered how Harry and Ron had managed to keep it so private for so long. "What's so special about being in Diagon Alley at this time?
Harry shrugged his shoulders, finally deciding to take control of the conversation again. "We haven't figured that out yet," he laughed, "We just decided to meet here for tonight. We didn't know that so many people would be here." Hermione grunted as a large elbow came towards her. She fell back into Ron in an attempt to avoid the appendage, and Ron tensed up, trying to carefully remove her from his lap. He placed his hands under her shoulders and slowly lifted her up. When she was righted again, she looked over and noticed that his face was bright red. She pointed to his cheeks and began to make a comment.
"Ron, your cheeks-" He cut her off and quickly fed her a barrage of excuses.
"It's really warm in here. There's a lot of people. You're not easy to lift with just my hands. I'm not feeling all that great. It's cold outside." Ron bit his lip and looked into the crowd, trying to avoid making a bigger fool out of himself. A few minutes passed by silently, and Hermione finally spoke up again. She turned to Harry and he flinched, assuming he was going to be scolded. Hermione frowned and began to ask more questions.
"So how long have you been at the Burrow with Ron? From the way the letter was written, it seems like you've been there for a while." She rummaged around in her bag and pulled out the letter, setting in the the middle of the table. Harry grabbed the letter and scanned it briefly.
"I've been there for a couple of weeks. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia decided that they needed to take their little "Dudley-Wudley" on a vacation, so they told me I needed to find somewhere else to be. I told Ron and he offered to let me stay at the Burrow while they're away." Harry handed the letter back to Hermione and leaned back in his chair. "They assume I'm going to destroy the house while they're away."
Hermione giggled. "You're more likely to destroy something with Ron around than you are alone in your Uncle's house." Hermione thought for a minute and added, "Poor Molly, stuck with you loud, crazy boys running around her house. I'm surprised she hasn't gone crazy yet." Harry smirked and took another sip of his drink.
"Well, she does give us food, so we try not to be too bad."