Title: Stormy Weather

Author: LLE

Email: saturnchild@hotmail.com

Rating: PG-13 for character death.

Feedback: Yes please, always curious to know what people think :)

A/N: A response to the November challenge at HermioneGinny at Yahoo! Groups. Fairly simple, as we were only asked for a hurt/comfort story.

A loud bang sounded as thunder clashed outside Gryffindor Tower. A bolt of lightning brought daylight into the dark evening for a split second, lighting up the darkened bedroom and playing in the long brown locks of the young woman sitting by the window.

Hermione Granger sat in the windowsill of her private bedroom. One leg was hanging off the side of the stone blocks and her other knee was serving as a resting place for the girl's chin as she stared into the rain.

The single bedroom was one of the Prefect perks, and perhaps the one Hermione was the most grateful for. She had always been fascinated by the raw power of a thunderstorm, the rage unleashed onto mankind by Mother Nature when she was in the mood. The unique way each lightning parted the sky, the angry roars when thunder wanted to have its say and the soft sound of the rain against the large windows of the castle which soothed the ones who took their time to listen. Pavarti and Lavender, Hermione's roommates until her 5th year of school, hadn't been able to truly understand the young brunette's obsession with the storms. They had tried, bless them, but they just couldn't see what it was that fascinated Hermione so.

Another bolt flashed, its brightness blinding Hermione for a short time. The energy freed from the skies fuelled the girl, making adrenaline course through her veins as her anger grew.

"Damn you, Voldemort." Hermione growled low in her throat, hard eyes turned to the dark clouds. "Damn you and everything you've done." Thunder sounded. "What could they ever do to you?"

Irritated, Hermione brushed away the tear making its way down her cheek. Now was not the time for mourning what couldn't be changed. Dumbledore had enlisted the help of all the prefects to strengthen the spells protecting the castle in order to make sure that Voldemort wouldn't be able to break into the premises again for a long time. Hermione had done what was asked of her, but the tears would have to wait until the other students were safe from harm.

It had been Harry who had found them. He'd felt evils presence in the castle late that night, and had alerted Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Professor McGonagall. Hermione because she knew the most spells, Ron because of his extensive studies of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Ginny because the youngest Weasley had an uncanny ability to keep a cool head under amazing amounts of pressure, and McGonagall because she would have an easier time getting help should they need it.

Hermione turned her face away from the window and gazed at the two black candles burning on her dresser, the only source of light in the room. They hadn't been as well known as Cedric Diggory, but they had been her friends and they had cared about everyone. Two spirits that had shone like bright lights amidst the darkness of their time, only to be extinguished much too soon.

"Damn you, Voldemort. Damn you." Lightning flashed once more, and thunder replied. "You will pay."

Taking a deep breath, Hermione slid down onto the floor, the black cloak with the maroon Gryffindor trimming swishing softly about her body as she walked to the dresser and rested her hands on it, pressing her eyes shut to keep the tears at bay.

The painful images flashed before the girl's inner eye. Only a few days old, they were still bright and living inside her mind, and would remain that way for the rest of her days. Harry's agonized cry of rage, Ron's sobs, Ginny's petrified scream. Nothing would ever be the same.

Hermione felt her entire body tremble as she once again saw the look in Harry's and Ron's eyes. Utterly broken by the sudden loss of their lovers, the two 7th year students hadn't left their room since then.

Unable to stand the images any longer, Hermione forced her eyes open and saw the small metal plaque lying before the candles.

"Pavarti Patil - Lavender Brown
1988 - 2005"

Growling angrily, Hermione tore her eyes from the plaque and pushed herself away from the dresser. She walked back to the window and stood before it, her hands clenching and unclenching without her knowledge as cold, brown eyes stared blankly into the rain.

"'Mione?" Ginny, who had been knocking for some time now, opened the door and peeked inside the room. She saw the brunette standing by the window, her back and shoulders so tense that it was visible even under the cloak.

Ginny walked slowly across the room, calling her friend's name softly and realizing that Hermione was so far away in her own thoughts that she couldn't hear her. Ginny reached out and placed her hand on Hermione's shoulder.

Startled, Hermione twirled quickly, wand at ready and breathing quickly at the prospect of danger.

Ginny flinched at the hard look directed at her from the usually warm and friendly brown eyes.

"Oh." Hermione's gaze immediately softened as she recognized the younger Gryffindor, and she placed her wand back in her pocket. "Sorry, Gin."

"No, I'm sorry." Ginny squeezed Hermione's shoulder gently. "You just didn't respond when I called your name, so I figured..." She trailed off and shrugged her shoulders.

"Yeah, I..." Hermione sighed and pushed her bangs away from her face with one hand. "I guess I was pretty far away."

"Yeah." Ginny nodded and looked at her best friend's masked face. "Hermione, are you alright?"

"Sure." Hermione shrugged and tried to smile. "Why do you ask?"

Ginny was silent, merely looking searchingly into Hermione's eyes for long moments. The brunette felt a small shiver run down her spine from the intensity seen in the intelligent eyes before her.

"Have you cried yet?" Ginny asked softly, tilting her head inquisitively as she looked at Hermione with a slight frown on her face.

"I don't have the time." Hermione turned around and stared at the clouds. "I have to think of the students."

"And I have to think about you!" Ginny grabbed Hermione's arm and turned the girl back around to face her. "They were your friends Hermione! You're telling me that you don't have the TIME to weep for them?!"

"Like I said," Hermione lowered her voice angrily. "I have to think about the other students." The brunette pulled her arm free of Ginny's grasp and walked towards the door. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see Dumbledore."

"No, you're not." Ginny waved her wand and the door clicked shut.

A white bolt of lightning struck the lake, sending water spraying in all directions. Thunder rolled louder as the storm was now centred over the castle.

"Ginny." Hermione sighed and pulled out her wand. "Everyone knows the unlocking spell. Do you really think that a locked door is going to keep me here?"

"Maybe not." Ginny growled. "But this will. Expelliarmus!"

Hermione gaped as the unarming spell worked; making her wand fly across the room and straight into Ginny's waiting hand.

"You are not leaving this room until you've cried." Ginny said decisively as she pocketed both her own and Hermione's wand.

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and glared defiantly at the redhead. "I told you, I don't have the time right now."

Ginny grumbled and walked swiftly across the room, grasping Hermione's arm and pulling her over to the dresser. The redhead wound her arms around the older girl from behind, holding Hermione in place while she spoke.

"Look at those candles Hermione." She whispered frantically into the brunette's ear. "Look at the plaque. See what they stand for! Those things are there because two of your friends were murdered!" Her voice trembled slightly, but Hermione merely turned her face away.

Ginny pulled one arm free and held Hermione's chin, forcing the older girl to look at the candles.

"Remember all the times they were with us at the Three Broomsticks?" Ginny continued. "See their smiles in your mind, hear their laughter, their voices. Remember them NOW Hermione! You'll never hear them again."

"No!" Hermione twisted her entire body, trying to free herself, but Ginny was much stronger than she looked, and she held the brunette in place.

"You won't see them at breakfast tomorrow! You won't hear them gush about Divination ever again! You know why, Hermione? Because they're DEAD! Murdered by Voldemort in the middle of the night! They were alone and defenceless, and he killed them for FUN!"

A clash of thunder shook the entire castle, the sound resonating off the walls and drowning out Hermione's agonized scream as she finally broke. She collapsed against Ginny; great heaving sobs wracking her slender frame as Ginny gently lowered them both to the floor and held her friend tight.

Amidst the blinding pain of her loss, Hermione clung desperately to Ginny, burying her face in the soft red hair while her body shook with the violent outlet of her grief.

Ginny held Hermione close, rubbing the older girl's back soothingly as she too cried for the souls of two girls who were now gone for good. "But we're going to be ok, Hermione." She spoke softly. "Voldemort won this battle, but he will lose the war, and everything will be alright. He will lose because he doesn't know how far people are willing to go to protect the people they love. He only knows hate."

"Why'd he kill them, Ginny?" Hermione sobbed against the younger girl's neck. "Why?"

There was no answer for that question, so Ginny simply held her friend tighter, trying to give comfort with her physical presence rather than more words.

Eventually, the storm came to an end. The clouds dispersed, the sun shone gently upon the wet soil, and the birds found their voices, filling the air with their cheerful song.

Hermione raised her head and looked at Ginny with tearful eyes. The sobs halted, and were replaced with the tears silently rolling down her cheeks. She placed her hand on Ginny's warm cheek and gently rubbed her thumb over the soft skin underneath her palm. "Thanks." She whispered.

Ginny reached up and gently wiped the tears away from Hermione's eyes. "Always."

"It hurts, Ginny."

"I know it does." Ginny placed her hand over Hermione's and gave it a soft squeeze. "But you have to hurt in order to heal."

Hermione nodded. She looked at the face beneath her own and into the beautiful eyes of her best friend. Slowly, almost hesitantly, she lowered her face towards Ginny, who in turn raised hers until their lips met.

Yes, the storm was forceful, but the sun always came out in the end. And when it did, you knew that all wounds would heal. All it took was time and love.

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