The Changing of the Tide
Ginny arrived outside the Burrow to whipping wind and rain, with Alex close beside her. The Burrow stretched up and up and up before her, towering and turned grey by the clouds that hovered high above it. It creaked, but did not sway. When Molly Weasley had cast her magic upon it, she hadn't messed around.
"Alex," she said, turning around. She realized that she was still holding his hand. "I'm going to do something and it's going to freak you out, but I'm going to need you not to lose your shit, okay?"
Still being unsure of the goings on, Alex only nodded, albeit warily.
Ginny kept her eyes on him when she summoned her wand from the house, and gauged only a slight widening of his eyes when she caught it deftly in hand.
"I need to cast a spell on you so you can go in the house, okay?" She'd had to raise her voice because of the wind, and was yelling just a bit.
"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you before- we ah- need to do this now, though. I'll try to sort things out later, okay?"
"Holy shit." Said Alex again. "Okay, yeah, do it." He seemed to brace himself after that, and he squared his shoulders and closed his eyes, ready for impact. Then, he changed his mind, and opened them.
Ginny raised her wand and cast a variant of 'Alohomora' over him, the one her parents had begun to use when new wards had been raised for extra protection after the end of her third year; the year Voldemort had returned. In a sense, she 'unlocked' a space for him in the wards so he could come inside.
"Okay, let's go." Said Ginny, taking off toward the house.
Once they reached the door, Ginny muttered a spell at it, threw it open, expecting that her father would have gotten her patronus, and burst into action. She raced past her brothers sat on the kitchen counter, and straight upstairs before her mother could properly yell at her. She was going straight for what she thought of as her go-bag. It was fortunate, really, that she'd packed some of Harry's clothes and things in it just in case. They would probably fit Alex.
It wasn't that she planned on having to make a run for it, but Ginny Weasley was nothing if not prepared.
Alex stood in the doorway to Ginny's room, taking in the alarmingly witchy quality of it, and said "You know, it isn't so much different from your bunk on the bus."
"Yeah, save for the toadstools and moving pictures, I think it bears a striking resemblance." She said with a snort. She was only half-joking about the toadstools, but she figured Alex knew that.
"Okay. Downstairs." Said Ginny, showing Alex in the right direction.
"Ginny!" Came her mother's voice from downstairs. "What's happened? I heard your patronus, but I don't understand!"
Ginny, still rushing down the stairs, and coming down into the lounge said, "The Granger house has been attacked."
"Was it death eaters?" Asked Mr. Weasley.
"I'm almost sure of it, there was a kind of green hanging in the air, like the mark had been left there hours ago. I don't think we got there right after it happened." Said Ginny, setting her bag down on the coffee table.
We hadn't even meant to go there today." She continued, looking at Fred and George now. Ron was nowhere to be seen.
Where's Ron?" She asked.
"Oh, he's over at Luna Lovegood's today. We sent your patronus on toward him, he and Luna should be here any moment." Said Mrs. Weasley, wringing her hands.
"Right. Well, like I said, we hadn't even meant to go there today, but Alex and I- ah, this is Alex, by the way- we ran into Harry and Hermione afte- I mean in London, and they stayed over with us. We were stopping to have breakfast, and by the time we got within about twenty feet of the house, the air had gone cold, mum, like there'd been Dementors there."
"We need to contact Dumbledore. Immediately." Said Mr. Weasley.
"I've sent Harry and Hermione on to Hogwarts, and I've got a friend of mine notifying Arabella Figg. She's probably on a bus to Privet drive as we speak."
"Yes, of course, she'll know the quickest way to get to Dumbledore. Good idea, Ginny." Said Mr. Weasley.
"So what do we do?" Asked Fred, speaking for the first time.
There was only silence for a moment, and then George said, "We've got to get wards up. More of them; we can't be safe like this- the Grangers' house had the same protections ours has."
"No." Said Mrs. Weasley. "We have to get to Hogwarts, now, before it's too late. We don't know how much time has passed since the attack, and we don't know how exposed we'll be if we get into the apparition zone outside our wards." Mrs. Weasley turned to look at her daughter. "Ginny, how did you come through?"
"I zigzagged through Diagon alley. I thought about going through Luna's or Godric's hollow, but both of those places could already be being watched. I went through the leaky cauldron, it should still be safe."
"Okay, everyone to the floo, let's not risk going outside. They're not going to target the leaky this early, they don't have the manpower. Let's floor there and then apparate outside the Hogwarts gates."
"You think Hogwarts is safe?" Asked Fred.
"Of course it's safe. Hogwarts is the safest place we could go right now." Said Mr. Weasley.
Just then, Ron and Luna stumbled out of the fireplace and into the lounge, dragging little puffs of soot with them as they went.
"Ginny, how lovely to see you." Said Luna, who was dusting soot off her sweater.
"What's happened?" Asked Ron, who was holding Luna's hand. He appeared to be doing it mostly for support.
"The Grangers'. It's been attacked, and we are currently getting the hell out of here." Said Ginny.
"Sounds like a plan to me." Said Ron, and they were off.
When the Weasleys-plus-two arrived at the Leaky Cauldron, everything appeared as it did normally, not a glass seemed out of place.
"Okay, they haven't gotten here yet. It may have been an isolated attack." Said Ginny, looking around.
"Well, this is a public space," said Alex, startling everybody. "You said they haven't got much manpower, right?" He asked Mr. Weasley. At his nod, Alex continued, "we're probably safe here, but maybe not for long. We should get moving."
"Okay," Said Ginny, "out into the alley, then."
Once they got there, Ginny side-alonged Alex again, and the rest went off in ones.
Just before they left, Ginny threw a look at Ron, and tried to say in the space of two seconds that she was sorry for running off in the middle of everything, but she suspected that all that registered was abject fear.
So, she looked away from him, took Alex's hand, and disapparated.
As soon as she landed on the grass outside the gates, Ginny heard shouting, and suddenly there was spellfire coming at them from all directions.
Yanking Alex down to the ground, Ginny began to throw spells at anyone wearing a mask. There were five or six of them, as far a Ginny could tell, and strangely enough, they weren't firing to kill.
Ginny narrowed her eyes, and went in for it on the nearest one, hitting him square in the chest with a stunner before he even saw her.
"Dad!" she yelled, whirling around.
"We're okay!" He yelled, in between hexes.
"What's going on!" She shouted as she flung stunners at one of the men in black.
Ginny got no response, so she focused in and got a shot in to the man's neck, and didn't stay long enough to watch him fall. She knew he wouldn't be getting up for some time.
Ginny nearly got caught by a particularly vicious looking jelly-legs hex in the back, but it went wide, and that gave Luna just enough time to put the death eater down with a strange-looking purple hex.
"Alright?" She asked. That death eater had been the last one, and they littered the ground.
"Alright." Said Ginny, picking herself up off the ground.
Alex emerged from behind a tree then, and Ginny saw that Harry and Hermione had been fighting with them.
"They were waiting for us. An ambush." Said Hermione, who was seething, and wiping somebody's blood off a little knife with her pink t-shirt. Alex was looking at her like she was a rabid animal- with fear, and fascination.
"We saw them when we got here, and were hiding in the trees when you lot showed up. We got rid of the first three before they'd even noticed we were here."
"That's what happens when a bunch of masked idiots go up against people who actually know how to fight." Said Hermione with about as much disdain and contempt as she could possibly fit into her voice. Shoving the knife back into her pocket, she sneered at one of the felled men and shoved at him with the toe of her trainers.
Disgusting." She said.
"Is there anyone in the castle, Harry?" Asked Mr. Weasley.
"Not so far as we can tell, but I don't doubt that if there is, they've seen us by now." Harry walked up to the gate with a slight limp, and pulled at the lock.
"Hermione?" He prompted.
"Yeah, I've got it."
Hermione strode over to the lock, and without saying anything at all, she set her hand over the mechanism. It glowed blue, and then everyone heard it unlock with a quiet 'snick'. Her face still twisted into a sort of grimace, Hermione pulled the lock out of place, shoved the gate open the muggle way, and took off across the grounds.
Everyone rushed to follow her, and the lot of them headed off to the castle.
The Doors to the castle were open to them when they got there, and that came only as a small surprise. Ginny supposed that the castle would have recognized their magical signature once they had gotten onto the grounds.
Hogwarts was empty through the first floor, save one first-year and a small, black kitten. The castle was alight with wall sconces and and just as warm-cosy as Ginny knew it to be. For some reason, she had expected it to be cold, unlit, and thoroughly abandoned. She supposed that she had been expecting the worst, but Hogwarts was open in the summertime, after all.
There was a rustling and quick footsteps from behind them, and suddenly everybody's wands were out, and Ginny had gone into a crouch.
"What are you lot doing here?" Said Minerva McGonagall, to whom the footsteps had belonged. She appeared to have completely ignored the ten wands trained on her, and was keeping her cool alarmingly well.
Upon seeing her, everyone relaxed, lowering their wands, and Mrs. Weasley said "Minerva, have you heard from Dumbledore?"
"Yes, I have. About twenty minutes ago, he asked me to secure the castle wards, and when I asked why, he simply said that there had been an attack."
At that, it appeared that Hermione had had too much, and proceeded to burst into tears.
Harry was the first to her, and he held her around the middle while she slumped into his side.
"It was Hermione's house," Ginny said quietly, and somewhat redundantly, to McGonagall. "We checked everybody else's and there have been no others, but there was an ambush waiting for us just outside the gates. I've tied them up in rope, and they're most likely still stunned."
Nodding her understanding, McGonagall said, "It would appear that I've got to make a call to Amelia Bones at the MOM."
"It would appear to be so." Said Mr. Weasley.