On the eve of war, it rains. (A Pre-HBP story; spoilers for "The Order of The Phoenix". PG-13 for implied slash.)
They were a half-mile distant from Neville's Gran's house when the rain started. He'd been spreading out the fraxinella leaves while Hermione sketched, her bent knees pointed toward his, their heads lowered and almost touching. She was bringing up that soil acidity thing again, and he was wondering how her short-trimmed fingernails had stayed so clean. His were crusted, on top and beneath, with dusty earth.
He saw the breeze before he felt it--it stirred a long loose tendril of her hair, and he unbent his tense neck to feel the air on his face. Then he saw the sky.
"Oh. I think it's going to..."
And then it did.
It was a swift surprise attack. No initial warning droplets. No peal of thunder to suggest that the heavens were gravid with a volume of water beyond their capacity. One moment, the air was heavy and warm. The next, all the rain appeared at once in downward-glimmering sheets.
A distant ache came closer and tightened his hip; wet weather was a misery to his worn joints and many mended bones. He hissed in air and she straightened, giving him a close critical once-over.
"Shouldn't we be going inside?"
Strange, he'd always half-expected to see the vivid colour of her hair bleed away with a good dousing of water, like the dye from a cheap cloak. But her changes worked deeper than that, it seemed. Easter-egg pink darkened to magenta in the wet, as the spiky tufts of hair went flat and sleek.
"No," he told her. "Your perimeter needs warding. Can't let a little weather get in the way of that."
"Moody," she sighed, blinking water from her eyes and wiping her neck.
He took a firm grip on his wand. "This is one I use on my kitchen steps. Excellent for keeping out rodents, too."
"Uh-oh. Is ickle Diddums scared of the rain?" he brayed to his cousin's retreating back. He'd pay for that later, no doubt about it, but the satisfaction of the jibe and an hours' peace alone in the park were more than worth the slaps, pinches, and accidently-on-purpose elbows he'd get later on.
Between wet-stained tree trunks, he could see people hurrying toward shelter, holding up picnic blankets and magazines in an effort to keep their heads dry. Which seemed silly to him. Everyone was already wet; the downpour had come on that quickly. No one had brought an umbrella, because no one expected this to happen.
And that might mean something to a philosophical person, he thought. The wind gusted, his glasses fogged, and he decided it was time to do what he'd come to the park for in the first place. Not think.
"I don't think it makes any difference whether we go left or right. The place is behind us, I'm certain."
"Are you...no. That can't be right." Bill dug his map from his back pocket, and unfolded it. His forehead wrinkled, pulling his gingery brows together, and his lips moved in a silent echo of thought.
It was a mystery to Kingsley, why that look entranced him so. Why the need always came strong in him, to smooth those furrows with his thumb, feeling pale lashes butterfly-brush his fingers, and catch every soundless word with his own lips.
A tickling thread of wet crawled down between his shoulder blades, and he realized that even a rain this heavy could be absorbed by his favorite fascination.
"Now look," Bill was saying, apparently oblivious to the rivulet running down his cheekbone to his chin. "We left the Underground here, correct?"
Kingsley wrested thirsty eyes from the dampening skin of a pale throat. "Mmm-hmm."
"And the restaurant is here." His fingertip traveled the map, and Kingsley nodded over where it stopped. Dozens of waterspots freckled the paper, but Bill stayed intent on tracing the spiderweb lines of their route.
"We left the station and went this way. Which would put us..."
He saw the speeding auto, and the puddle in its path, but they were too late dodging back from the kerb.
"Damn it!" Bill's voice echoed down the street. The saturated map came apart in his hands, and he let the shreds plop to the pavement, throwing up his hands in frustration. As if mocking him, a hard breeze caught the map's remnants, plastering them against his legs.
"Come now," Kingsley soothed.
She was staring at the water-speckling puddles around her shoes, when a man spoke from the bottom of the steps.
"Is it bad as all that?"
Glancing up, it was Professor Snape, wetter than she, regarding her with uncommon curiosity. Rain patted her face with tiny fingers, dropping glowing beads in her eyelashes that twinkled when she blinked. Her palms were slick going over her knees.
"They're all inside," she said, and caught three raindrops on her tongue. Now he would dismiss her, turn that piercing stare of his elsewhere, and mount the steps, trailing the wet hem of his cloak past her face on the way up. She wondered if his cloak would have that darkish musty smell, like hers did when it got wet.
But he didn't move. His eyes didn't release her to the obscurity she'd enjoyed before.
"Who's inside, Miss Weasley?" Inky strands of hair stuck to his cheeks, which were paper-pale in contrast. Beneath his lined white forehead, his eyes were shiny black. Blacker than the glossy asphalt of the street. Blacker then the water stains on her black patent shoes.