Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything you might recognize from it. Nor do I own "You Owe Me Nothing In Return" by Alanis Morissette.
A/N: Yes yes, here I am with another HP story. I just can't stay away, I guess. This one is fairly different from anything I've done before, but I'm quite excited by it. I encourage everyone to check out the song, because that was a major source of inspiration for me, and it really sums up Ginny's feeling towards Harry during the story. Rest assured that in the end it will be H/G, but not before some angst happens first! Aside from that, I hope you enjoy!
Warning 1: There will be mild slash in this story between Remus and Sirius (and it's extremely mild), so if you absolutely can't abide slash in any way, shape or form, no matter how mild it is, I suggest you turn back right now because I'm sick to death of hearing complaints about it.
Warning 2: You may find the characters OOC or the plot unbelievable. No one is forcing you to read this story and it is, in fact, quite easy to click the Back button and pretend it doesn't exist. It's not going to change at this point so if you're not willing to give it a chance, please just leave.
"You owe me nothing for giving the love that I give
You owe me nothing for caring the way that I have
I give you thanks for receiving it's my privilege
And you owe me nothing in return."
(Alanis Morissette – You Owe Me Nothing in Return)
Ginevra "Ginny" Weasley stared down at her Ancient Runes textbook with glazed eyes, making a half-hearted struggle to focus. At some point in the past fifteen minutes, the runes in the book had all transformed into meaningless squiggles, and Hermione Granger's endlessly lecturing voice had faded into the background. She was supposed to be hard at work studying for her OWLs, which would be happening at the end of the school year, or in less than nine months, but after two solid hours of work, her mind refused to co-operate. After all, nine months seemed like plenty of time to Ginny, but she'd made the mistake of being at work in the library when Hermione walked in. The next thing she knew, it was over two hours later, and Hermione was still going strong.
"Ginny? Ginny! Are you listening to me?"
"No," Ginny said to her textbook, unable to keep the weariness out of her voice. "Hermione, it's only September. Can't I have a little bit of time before you start freaking out over my OWLs?"
Hermione paused and had the grace to look sheepish. "I'm sorry, Ginny. I'm only trying to help."
"I know, and I appreciate it. I guess I'm just really tired today." She finally glanced up and closed her textbook, then slid it into her bookbag just in case Hermione got any more ideas. "One of my roommates kept me up until two in the morning last night because she had a fight with her boyfriend."
"I know how that goes," Hermione muttered.
Frowning slightly, Ginny took the opportunity to really look at her friend, knowing that it wasn't just the dim light of the library that made her look so awful. Hermione's face was pale and there were dark circles under her puffy eyes. She looked completely exhausted, and Ginny had to wonder when Hermione had last eaten or slept. "Are you okay?" she asked gently. "You don't look so good. Maybe you should visit Madame Pomfrey."
"She can't help," said Hermione, smiling wearily. "Not unless she's going to magically find something wrong with that brother of yours this time around."
Knowing that Hermione had a point, Ginny sighed and leaned back in her chair. For the past few months, ever since the Battle at the Department of Mysteries, Ron had been acting strangely, and it wasn't getting any better even though repeated visits to St. Mungos and the Hospital Wing proved that there was nothing wrong with him. But Ron's temper continued to be even worse than normal, causing him to lash out at random times towards innocent people, and he often refused to listen to reason. About a month ago, he'd picked a fight with Harry – one of the few people at Grimmauld Place who had still been willing to speak to him – and he and Harry hadn't been talking, except to fight in increasingly violet ways, since. The situation was placing a terrible strain on Hermione, who didn't know what to do.
"It doesn't make any sense," the redhead said with frustration, propping her chin on her hand. "Ron can be an arse, but he's never acted like this before. I know Harry's tried to make amends and Ron just gets even more angry with him. The Healers have all said that nothing is wrong, but..." She shook her head in despair. "I just don't understand what's wrong with him lately."
"You and me both," Hermione mumbled, tapping her quill against her parchment. Ink dribbled from the end of her quill onto the parchment, but amazingly, Hermione didn't seem to notice or care that her essay was being ruined. "I've even tried running a few tests on him myself, but everything has been coming back negative. I know that something is not right... but how can I prove it?" She exhaled, looking frustrated. "I've already done as much research in the library as I can."
"Maybe you could – " Ginny began. She was cut off when Lavender Brown burst into the library, her hair falling down around her shoulders in wild, windblown ringlets. Her eyes searched the library desperately, completely disregarding Madame Pince's disapproving glare, until she found Hermione and Ginny.
"Hermione, thank Merlin. You have to come quickly. Ron and Harry are fighting down by the Greenhouse and this time it's really bad!" she cried. "Natalie Montgomery has gone for a teacher, but..."
Hermione didn't even wait to hear the last of Lavender's sentence. She jumped up and left the library at a dead run, not even bothering to collect her things. Lavender and Ginny ran after her, chasing her all the way through the castle and out the massive front doors. Even on the steps, it was plain to see what was going on. Just as Lavender had said, Ron and Harry were facing off near the greenhouses. Ron had his wand out and was pointing it in Harry's face. His other hand was wound around Harry's collar in a tight grip so that Harry couldn't escape. Harry's lips were moving urgently, and he had his hands curled around Ron's, trying to make the irate boy let go. The students that were gathered around them watched with varying expressions of horror, surprise, and amusement.
"Ron!" Hermione shouted, sprinting across the grounds. "What are you doing?"
"Stay out of this, Hermione," Ron said, not even sparing a glance towards his girlfriend. "This is between me and the Gryffindor Golden Boy."
"Please, Ron," Harry rasped, his breathing strained. He grimaced as Ron's hold grew tighter, effectively cutting off his breathing, and lowered his head, managing to squeeze out one final protest. "Stop!"
Raw, golden magic flared around Harry's hands, and then a burst of wandless magic hurtled Ron backwards. He landed hard on his back a few feet away and remained still, stunned. Hermione gave a low cry and rushed to his side, while Ginny ran to Harry, who had slumped to his knees. She leaned over him and quickly pulled his robes and shirt away from his throat. Harry flashed her a look of gratitude as he took several deep, slow breaths and coughed.
"Thanks Gin," he whispered.
"Are you okay?" she asked worriedly.
"Get the hell away from my sister, Potter," Ron snarled before Harry could respond. Ginny glanced up to see that Ron was back on his feet and had somehow managed to hold onto his wand. Her eyes widened when she realized that he was pointing his wand at the two of them. "Ginny, get away from him! He's dangerous."
"Have you lost your mind?" Ginny said, astonished. "It's Harry. He would never hurt me."
"You don't understand!" he yelled, blue eyes blazing with rage. "You can't trust a word he says. All he wants is glory. Bloody golden boy, always prancing around the castle, sucking up to the professors. He flaunts his fame and money in our faces, you know. It's always about him and that's exactly the way he likes it!"
"Ron!" Hermione was standing at his side, looking extremely upset. She reached out to touch his arm and kept her voice calm as she spoke. "Please, you know that Harry isn't like that at all. Why don't you give me your wand, and we can sit down and talk about why you feel like this."
For a minute, Ron hesitated, his face softening as he gazed into Hermione's worried face, and Ginny thought that perhaps he would do as Hermione had asked. Then his eyes narrowed, and he shoved Hermione away. She stumbled backwards and slipped on a loose stone, falling heavily into the arms of a rather startled Draco Malfoy (surprisingly enough, he didn't drop her). Ron ignored his girlfriend and kept his wand trained on Harry, who stood up slowly and reached for his own wand.
"Harry," Ginny pleaded.
"I can't let him do whatever he likes, Gin," Harry said. The torment was clear in his vivid green eyes as he faced off against his once best friend. "Ron, I was willing to forgive you up until now, but no one pushes Hermione around like that. I don't know what the hell is wrong with you, but you'd better get over it fast."
"The teachers are coming," one particularly brave student whispered, lifting his head. "Weasley, maybe you'd better – "
"Why, because Perfect Potter said so?" sneered Ron, lifting his wand and completely ignoring the student who had spoken. His blue were dazed, but all of a sudden, he focused and gave a cold smirk. "Don't think the professors are going to save you this time. I don't want you anywhere near my family, and I'm going to make sure you stay away."
Lifting his wand, he began speaking under his breath, too low for Harry or Ginny to make out. Hermione must have heard and understood what it meant, because she gasped and straightened, taking a step forward in an obvious effort to stop Ron. Her ankle gave way under her weight and she ended up right back where she had started, though this time Draco set her down on the ground with an uncustomary gentleness. Harry frowned as a misty golden light began to form around the end of Ron's wand. He didn't recognize the spell and wasn't sure how to counter it. A quick glance in Ginny's direction told him that the girl was just as puzzled as he was.
"I, Ronald Weasley, sixth son of Arthur Weasley and youngest son of the Weasley family, hereby invoke this unbreakable decree," Ron began. His voice sounded different when he spoke, older and more mature, with a heavy dullness. "In accordance with the ancient and honourable rule of familial bonds..." The glowing mist at the end of his wand began to turn into a brilliant shade of blood red. "Any and all bonds, past, present and future, between the Potters and the Weasleys are henceforth broken. De vinculis scilicet olim numquam iterum. Sit Weasley et Potter invicem oderunt reliquis familiarum aeternum!"
With the last word that Ron spoke, the deep red, almost black light exploded with a sound like shattering glass. Ginny felt a horrible wrenching sensation in her chest and fell to her knees, one hand grasping weakly at her heart. Harry and Ron collapsed at the same time. Hermione moaned low in her throat, a dreadful, keening sound, as Professor McGonagall finally arrived at the scene. She took one look at Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione and sent students to fetch Madame Pomfrey and the Headmaster, then began shooing the other students away from the scene. Once the rest of them had gone, she began attending to Ron and Harry, trying to make sure the two of them were both still breathing.
"Ginny, are you alright?" Hermione called, her face pinched from the pain of her ankle.
Ginny didn't answer. Physically, she wasn't too bad off – already, the pain that had flared was fading – but her chest felt so heavy, like she was trying to breathe while being dragged through heavy mud. Madame Pomfrey and Professor Dumbledore arrived at a dead run, and the mediwitch began conjuring stretchers for all four of the students while Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore conferred with Hermione in low whispers. The twinkle slowly disappeared from Dumbledore's eyes as he listened to Hermione.
"Minerva, I'm going to ask you to contact the rest of the Weasley family. Please have them meet me in the Hospital Wing," he said, just loud enough for Ginny to hear. "I recognize that Charlie and Bill are out of the country, but if at all possible, I'd like for them to be present as well. By now, they should be aware that something is not right, and will no doubt be curious. Also contact Kingsley and Amelia Bones. Ask her to bring her best specialist on bonds."
"Yes, Headmaster," McGonagall said, looking deeply shaken. She hastened to the castle ahead of the rest of them.
"I don't need a stretcher," Ginny mumbled to Madame Pomfrey. "I can walk." To prove it, she managed to get her feet underneath her. The world tilted dangerously, but she remained standing.
Madame Pomfrey and Professor Dumbledore exchanged long looks. "Very well, Miss Weasley, if you are certain you can make it to the Hospital Wing under your own power, please meet us there," said Pomfrey. With a simple wave of her wand, she levitated the three stretchers holding Ron, Harry and Hermione and began walking towards the castle.
"Headmaster... What happened? What did Ron do?" Ginny asked, looking up at the man. She hadn't been truly concerned until she saw the grave expression on his face, and now she was frightened. "Please, I need to know."
Dumbledore sighed. "Miss Weasley, I would prefer to tell you at the same time as the rest of your family," he said gently. "I believe you should not hear this news alone."
"It's that bad?" she said, wanting to cry but somehow managing to hold it in.
"I'm afraid so."
It took every last bit of strength that she possessed for her to merely nod and start following Madame Pomfrey towards the castle. She sensed that the Headmaster had fallen into step behind her, but she didn't turn around to make sure. If she had, she was certain that she wouldn't have been able to resist the urge to ask him again. Ginny made it all the way to the Hospital Wing without saying a word to anyone, and when Madame Pomfrey directed her to sit down on a bed, she did so without protest. Something really bad had happened... and as soon as the rest of her family had arrived, she was pretty certain that her whole world was going to change forever.
Note: What Ron says, loosely translated, means, "The bonds that once were shall never be again. Let the Weasley and Potter families hate each other for the rest of eternity."
Please review (but remember, if you're reviewing just to comment on percieved OOC-ness or because you dislike the plot, please don't).