Author's Note: No, this doesn't mean I've stopped writing Chaos. I am, in fact, now off to finish a chapter of it. I just got this finished first and thought, hey, I'll post it. Why not.
This is set at the start of Ginny's fifth year, which means it's the start of the Trio's sixth year. I'm completely ignoring the fact that Percy buggered off. Just because I can. There may be a few other canon plot points that I'll be ignoring/changing, but I'll keep you updated on them when and if they happen.
Ginny Weasley had always known that the world was split up into two types of people: those who were scared of thunderstorms, and those who were thrilled by them. And she had always known that she fell firmly into the latter category.
She always knew when a storm was coming. She would stand at her bedroom window for hours beforehand, watching and waiting for that first flash of lightning, that first rumble of thunder. And then, quick as anything, she would tear down the stairs and out of the house before her mother could stop her and run for the hill behind the Burrow. She loved nothing better than to stand on that hill, barefoot on the grass in the pouring rain, lightning flashing overhead and thunder crashing around her, rumbling through her very being. It made her feel alive in a way that nothing else ever could, or would. She would stand there for as long as she could, telling herself over and over again that she would stay until the end of the storm, that she would not leave for anything, for anyone. But every time she would leave before the finish, allow herself to be taken away by whichever bedraggled, red-headed brother her mother sent to fetch her.
Because as much as she loved the storms, they were family, and family always came first.
"Honestly, Ginevra," Molly scolded as she attacked her only daughter's head with a towel, "I don't know what we'll do with you. You're going to get pneumonia one of these days, and then you'll wish you listened to me."
"I know, mum," Ginny agreed blandly. Unlike the twins, she had learnt early on that if she wanted an easy life then agreeing with their mother worked a lot better than arguing with her. Sure enough, her mother harrumphed once more before grabbing a comb and silently yanking it through the messy red waves of her daughter's hair.
"There, now go and sit in front of the fire and dry out," Molly instructed. Ginny hopped off the chair and hurried into the next room where Ron and Percy were playing chess. She sat on the rug by the fire and drew her knees up to her chest, a smile on her face as she thought of the storm still raging outside. It was a summer storm, and summer storms were the best. You could stand in them for hours; the air was always so warm that getting drenched to the bone didn't bother Ginny as much as it did in the winter when the chill had set in.
"You really must stop acting like such a child, Ginevra," Percy said suddenly and sternly, dragging his sister out of her thoughts, "It's dangerous to be out by yourself." Ginny felt her Weasley temper flare, interrupting the happy calm that had settled over her since she returned from the hill. She turned a glare on her brother.
"Are you saying that I can't look after myself, Percy?" she asked sweetly, a glint in her eyes the only warning of the danger her brother was in.
"I am simply saying that you are too young to expect to be able to defend yourself against death eaters," he answered pompously, Ron nodding in agreement at his side. Neither saw the bat-bogey hex coming.
"Good shot, Gin," George said, walking into the room with a towel in one hand and a steaming cup of tea in the other. It had been he who had dragged her in from the storm, getting thoroughly soaked for his trouble. They both watched with a sort of morbid interest as their brothers flailed around the room, trying vainly to escape their own bogeys.
"Where's Fred?" Ginny asked after a few minutes. It was rare to see one twin without the other, especially these days. Business was going so well for them that they had moved out of The Burrow and into the flat above their shop.
"He had an allergic reaction to a product we tested, so now he's stuck in bed for a week," George said with a smirk. Ginny giggled, trying not to imagine what could have gone wrong with a WWW product.
"Sorry about you getting all wet coming to get me."
"What's a brother for if not getting wet for his sister," George said jovially. Ginny turned to stare at him, and even Ron and Percy had disbelieving looks on their faces as they continued to fight their own bogeys off.
"What?" George asked, confused, before it clicked into place, "Oh, you dirty-minded sods! Merlin, people these days." He muttered as he turned and left the room. Ginny waited a second before laughing out loud; if George knew she was laughing at him, there would surely be retaliation, and retaliation from the twins was a lot scarier than it was from anyone else. At the best, it involved public humiliation, at the worst she could be traumatized for life. Poor Ron still hadn't gotten over the teddy bear incident.
"What was that for?" Ron demanded angrily, the effects of her spell having finally worn off. Percy didn't even bother speaking to her, simply leaving the room with his nose in the air.
"Evidence, my dear brother, it was evidence. That I can in fact look after myself," Ginny said, looking out of the window as another clap of thunder shook her heart, "And besides, what death eater is going to be out in this weather?"
Let it never be said that Severus Snape enjoyed his life as a spy for the Light side. It was all too often full of nasty, dirty, gruelling tasks from both of his masters. One such task being the reason he was searching a muddy field for a certain elusive plant in the middle of a thunderstorm.
"Bloody... fucking... Ooo!" He dove forward suddenly as a green leaf was illuminated by a flash of lightning overhead. Quickly, he extracted a vial from his sopping wet robes and posted the leaf inside. And just in time, too, as he felt someone cross the wards that surrounded the little house he was being forced to live in. Gathering his robes around him, he apparated directly into his bedroom. A quick drying spell or two later and he swept downstairs to receive his uninvited guests.
"Narcissa, Bellatrix, how... lovely to see you," he drawled, putting no effort into hiding his disdain, "Wormtail, go fetch us something to drink. Perhaps some of the elf-made wine." The rat-faced man had been hovering nearby, obviously wanting to be part of the meeting. He scowled at the potions master, but scurried away all the same.
Down to the kitchen he went, grabbing three crystal glasses and a bottle of the wine before rushing back upstairs, not wanting to miss anything good.
"Really, Bellatrix, you are like a child having to touch everything you see. Must I ask you again not to touch my things!" Snape was snarling when Wormtail arrived in the living room. Trying his hardest to ignore the tension between the others in the room, he served up the wine, trying to take his time without being too conspicuous.
"Yes, Wormtail, I do know what you're doing," Snape snapped. Damn, Wormtail thought, then, bloody legilimens. The legilimens in question just smirked. "And don't even think of trying to eavesdrop in the corridor. Our master sent you here to help me, not to annoy me. Begone!"
And so Wormtail scuttled out of the room, smarting over the comment about the Dark Lord. It was he who had resurrected their master, and yet he was still treated as the lowest of the low. He went straight to his sparsely decorated room to sit and fume, and so he entirely missed the significance of the event going on downstairs.
Severus Snape did not have that luxury, however, and did not miss a second as he made the Unbreakable Vow to protect his brat of a godson. It was something that he would never have done had he had a choice, no matter how much he objected to the position Draco Malfoy had been put in. The fact remained that Albus was infinitely more important to the war, and to the Light side in particular than Draco was, or would ever be. Severus would rather die than kill Albus. And so Severus knew that he had, in all likelihood, just signed his own death warrant.
"Wormtail!" he yelled as the two sisters left his house. "Wormtail!" he yelled again, having not immediately received an answer. He heard the scurrying of the despicable man's feet overhead, and soon Wormtail was hurrying down the stairs.
"Go and get me these," Severus commanded, thrusting a list of ingredients at the cowering man, "Don't be seen. When you return you will knock once on the door to my lab, and then you will leave the ingredients outside the door and you will not disturb me for the next three days. Do I make myself clear?"
"Y-yes," Wormtail squeaked, taking the list with a shaking hand.
"Good," Severus said. And with that he turned, sweeping off towards his lab, the tiny green leaf safely tucked inside his robes. He had work to do.
"Are you even trying?" Ginny called, laughing as she grabbed the dropped quaffle out of the air, flying so low to the ground that her feet skimmed the muddy grass, throwing splatters of dirt up her calves.
"I let that go in!" Ron protested, sending a glare at his little sister. Ginny laughed again, shaking her hair out of her eyes and basking for a moment in the wonderful feeling of the sun on her face. Really, she thought, the day after a thunderstorm was almost as good as the storm itself. The smell of wet grass, the sun drying the land out. Almost as good, but not as thrilling, she mused as she titled her broom upwards, climbing steeply in the air before shooting off towards Ron and their makeshift goal of tree branches.
"Ron! Ginny!" Molly's voice carried easily across the orchard, though her children both ignored her for the minute, too focused on their game. "Honestly," the plump woman muttered to herself, watching as her only daughter shot like a rocket towards her youngest son. When she was almost upon him, Ginny feinted to the right before throwing the quaffle as hard as she could to his left. Ron, to his credit, touched the ends of his fingers on the red ball before it shot past him. He groaned, burying his face in his hands. It was terrible; he could never win against her.
"Na na na na na!" Ginny taunted, flying in a loop towards her mother, pausing only to stick her tongue out at Ron.
"If you're quite finished, I thought you might like to know that Harry just arrived," Molly called, her hands on her hips as she tried to hide her amusement.
"Well, why didn't you say?" Ron demanded indignantly, forgetting quidditch for the minute and shooting down towards her. Ginny followed at a calmer pace, landing beside her mother as Ron ran from the orchard.
"He seems awfully excited," Ginny commented as they watched Ron race towards the house, "Do you ever wonder if he's just a bit... gay for Harry?"
"Ginevra!" Molly scolded, before covertly looking around and carrying on in a conspiratorial tone, "Well, no. But I've always wondered about Charlie. That boy just likes tank tops more than a straight man should." Ginny giggled, throwing her broomstick over her shoulder as they headed out of the orchard, towards the house.
When they reached the kitchen, they found Ron with his arm slung around Harry's shoulders, both chattering away excitedly about their summers. Ginny gave her mum a glance before pointedly looking at the arm around Harry's shoulders. Molly only just managed to hide her laugh as a strange sounding cough.
"You alright, mum?" Ron asked, looking at his mum with a touch of concern.
"Yes, yes, Ron I'm fine," Molly said, bustling around the kitchen as she checked on lunch, "Ginny, call your brothers down could you, and you can all have lunch before you leave, goodness knows you need feeding up Harry, dear." Ginny smiled at Harry on her way past, rolling her eyes at her mother's fussing. Harry's eyes twinkled with amusement and he tried to put an exasperated look on his face but she knew that he loved it really. She couldn't blame him either, after Sirius's death the month before he probably needed all of the parental love and concern he could get.
"Oi, lunch is ready!" she yelled up the stairs before returning to the kitchen. There was a thundering of feet on the stairs and George came hurtling down. He had stayed over the night before and would be escorting them all to Diagon Alley that afternoon. Ginny had no idea what the others had said to her mother in order to convince her to let them go without a full auror contingent, but somehow they had persuaded her that they would be fine with Fred and George and Percy there. Of course, she had no idea that Fred was stuck in bed, and they were going to keep it that way. Hermione would not have approved, had she been there, but the others felt that the little snatch of freedom was worth the risk.
"Must you shout, Ginevra?" Percy asked as he entered the kitchen after George at a more sedate pace.
"Yep," Ginny grinned, helping herself to a sandwich from the enormous plate that Molly had just placed in the middle of the table. Percy shot her an annoyed look before turning to Harry and roping him into a conversation about something dull. Cauldron bottoms, most likely, Ginny mused.
"Where'd you want to go this afternoon then, Gin?" George asked her as they watched Harry's varying expressions as he listened to Percy prattle on, all of which seemed to point towards some suicidal tendencies.
"All the normal places, I guess," she answered simply, giving her brother a pointed look. For the last few years they, along with Fred, obviously, had been sneaking into Knockturn Alley to visit a small shop owned by a strange old witch. It sold anything and everything, some of it dark but most of it just strange or old. The twins had discovered it in the summer of their second year at Hogwarts, when they bought a set of rings that allowed a slight telepathic connection to open up between the wearers. They thought they were brilliant, and had been using them ever since to scare Slytherins and first years, half of whom were convinced that the two red-headed boys were some sort of devil-twins.
"Cool," George said, winking at his sister. They would have to ditch the others, of course, but that would be simple. Ginny smiled, half of her mind wondering what hidden treasures she would find in Knockturn Alley and half of her mind drifting back to last night's thunderstorm; she couldn't help but dwell on the crashing of the thunder and the flashes of lightning, couldn't stop herself from remembering the feel of the rain lashing down on her face.
She was snapped out of her thoughts as her mother took her now empty plate from in front of her and everyone began standing up and moving away from the kitchen to gather bags and shoes that would be needed for the afternoon of shopping.
"Here, Gin," George called, throwing her old, brown bag to her across the room. She smiled her thanks to her brother before slipping her shoes on and following the rest into the living room.
"Now, remember to stick together," Molly clucked, fussing over a splodge of mud on Ron's forehead and the state of Harry's hair.
"We will, mum," the Weasley's chorused whilst Harry nodded emphatically.
"Well then, have fun," she stepped aside and motioned for Percy to go through the floo first.
"Diagon Alley!" he shouted, somehow still managing to sound like a pompous arse. Ginny really would have to find out whether he did that on purpose or if it just came naturally, she mused as she waited for her turn to go through.
She exited the fireplace in a graceless tumble at The Leaky Cauldron. Swearing under her breath, she clambered to her feet and tried to shake most of the soot from her body. A few feet away, Harry was doing the same thing, though the other three had somehow managed to get through unscathed.
"Honestly, Ginevra, you look like a homeless child," Percy said, drawing his wand from his pocket, "Scourgify, scourgify." He pointed his wand first at his little sister and then at Harry, siphoning the dirt off.
"Where do people want to go first?" Ron asked. George and Ginny exchanged a glance and Ginny nodded.
"Well, I was going to quickly check in on Fred, if that's alright with you, Percy?" George said quickly.
"Mother said we weren't to split up," Percy frowned.
"Yeah, but they'll be safe with you, won't they, Perce. Plus, you lot don't want to come see Fred, he's oozing all over everything. Or at least he was the last time I saw him. Never know, he might be at the vomit stage by now."
"George!" Three voices chorused, whilst Ginny did her best to hide a snigger.
"What?" George asked indignantly, "The vomit means he's healing!"
"Okay, George, you can go and see Fred. But be quick, and take one of this lot with you, can you? I can't be expected to keep an eye on all three of them at the same time." He glared around at Harry, Ron and Ginny as though he thought they were delinquent three year olds, about to steal sweets and kick old people. Ginny ignored this, however, too happy that her brother had given her the perfect opportunity to get away from him.
"'Kay," George said happily, grabbing Ginny by the arm and dragging her away before anyone could protest, "Come on, Gin, if we're really lucky he might be in the diarrhoea stage- that one means he's almost better!"
Clarence had always known exactly what her customers needed, that was why she stayed in business even though she sold her goods for a fraction of their real value. But she had always thought that a happy customer was more important than a few galleons in her pocket.
This was not to say she would give away her goods, and certainly not to anyone who didn't need them. But when a deserving customer walked through her door, she would do almost anything in her power to ensure that they walked away with the tools to achieve their destinies.
Oh, yes, Clarence was a great believer in destiny.
She picked up a single feather earring from a stand behind the counter and held it up to the light, examining it from every angle. The feather was a rusty orange, sleek and smooth with not a barb out of place. A gold, patterned bead hung on a loop of metal above it, and the earring itself was long and curved with a sharp point that could draw blood if one were to be clumsy with it.
Yes, today somebody would need this earring. Today, somebody would come into her shop with thunderbird blood.