This is a long one-shot set during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter Nine The Dark Mark. Some of the dialogue is taken from that chapter, and obviously belongs to JKR, as does Harry Potter in general (duh). This story flits between George, Fred and Ginny's PoV (although not always in that order).

No major warnings, just a lot of teenage boys.

Fost and Lound

"George! Wake up! It's urgent,"

Groggily, George blinked his eyes open. It took him a couple of seconds to remember that the struts he could see above were the top bunk of the bed he was sleeping in, because they were camping at the Quidditch World Cup.

"Quickly," the voice- it was Dad- continued, and a finger started prodding George in the ribs.

"What?" he answered groggily.

"You need to go outside. Get up and go outside," babbled Dad, "Run!"

"Have we got an invite to the after-party?" George heard Fred mumble from the bunk above.

"This is serious!" Dad snapped, "Fred, come down now,"

George was shocked; Dad hardly ever bossed them about like this.

"Keep you hair on," grumbled Fred, jumping down from his bunk and landing with a thud beside Dad.

"Shoes on, bring a jumper. Move!" Dad bellowed.

George crawled out of bed and scrabbled on the floor for his shoes, and the hoody he'd been wearing in the day. Dad grabbed Fred's jumper from the chair and threw it at him.

"I'll be outside in a minute," Dad hissed, prodding them towards the tent door before speeding off towards Harry and Ron's bunk.

George chucked Fred's shoes at him, and they both jammed their feet into their trainers while Dad yelled at Ron to wake up.

"Let's go," murmured Fred, and George followed him through the tent door. Outside, the first thing George noticed was that it was much colder than he anticipated. The second thing he noticed was the noise. There wasn't only soft night-time sounds, but bangs from wands, and fast footsteps as if people were running. There were yelps, too, although George couldn't tell if they were of fear, pain or mirth. A man tore past them towards the woods, dragging a young boy with him, and then another family crashed through the row of tents, almost knocking Fred over.

"Watch it," Fred muttered.

"Looks like everyone's invited to the party," noted George, with a joviality he wasn't feeling.

"Bet they're racing for the free booze," agreed Fred, in the same nervous voice.

Ron and Harry spilled out of the tent, looking as perplexed as the twins felt. Ron was hopping on one foot while he tugged his shoe on, while Harry was wriggling into his jacket (like most of Harry's clothes, it was about five sizes too big for him. This made more sense now that George had finally seen Harry's lump-of-lard cousin). Dad charged out and over to Hermione and Ginny's tent. George was about to call to Harry and Ron, when a jet of green sprung from the ground, blasting colour into the sky. The place where the footsteps and yelps were coming from was now illuminated, and George could make out pack of people with hoods over their faces, stampeding over the camping field. George saw another spell jet out from the group, hitting a tent and sending it spinning into the next field. Some of the screeching, George realised, was from the bunch of marching wizards as they laughed and cackled, although most screams were from the agitated crowd, rushing to get out of the way.

"Look," hissed Fred, tugging on George's sleeve, "What's that above them?"

In the sky over the marching crowd were four figures: a man, a woman, a girl and a boy. Fred realised that they were being levitated there by the masked marchers.

"The campsite family," George answered.

"Oh God," winced Fred. He shuffled closer to his twin. Whatever happening was freaky and unsettling. Not the kind of thing anyone wanted or expected the night of the World Cup Final. More disconcerting was the fact that he was drawing blanks on any jokes to make. Fred hoped that George would make one for him, but George didn't say anything either. The levitated family suddenly started moving. One of the masked mob must have shot a spell, because the Muggle mother started spinning upside-down. The father's limbs began to flail madly. The little boy was spun round and round and round, and the toddler girl started whacking herself in the face with her arms.

Fred heard George swear under his breath.

"Who's doing this?" Fred asked, as the mob crowed merrily.

"Bastards," answered George, "That girl's younger than Ginny,"

Ginny herself appeared then, stumbling out of her tent with Hermione, whose hair was puffed up by sleep. Dad hurried out with them and they all dashed over to the twins, as Percy, Bill and Charlie legged it out of the boys' tent. They were dressed, although Charlie had his jumper on backwards. The three of them started to sprint towards the crowd. Percy, Fred thought for perhaps the first time in his life, was actually pretty brave. Of course Bill and Charlie would leap into action, but for Percy to join them was unexpected. He'd only turned eighteen three days ago. Still, Fred reckoned, best not to give Bighead Boy too much credit. He'd probably try to give whoever was underneath the masks a detention.

"We're going to help the Ministry. You lot, get into the woods and stick together," commanded Dad, "I'll come and fetch you when we've sorted this out,"

The march was getting closer, and more people were barging past. Some were charging towards the pack of masked wizards, though most were fleeing to the woods. The Muggle family were convulsing in the sky above them and, Fred realised, Ginny was now watching it happen. Oh, no way. He wasn't having his baby sister watch this. Fred marched over, seized Ginny's hand and yanked her away.


"What's going on?" Ginny piped up, "Dad said we had to get out quickly,"

"We don't know," Fred told her.

"We'll look after you," George vowed, scurrying to walk beside them.

"You're safe with us, you know that," said Fred, and winked. But Ginny craned to stare at the Muggle family.

"Look at the little boy…." she whispered, pointing to where the child was whizzing in circles.

Fred and George glanced at each other. Fred could tell that George was figuring out what to say, but they didn't have time for that. They had to get away.

"Race you to the woods!" Fred hollered.

But Ginny didn't want to race, and Fred had to drag her into the trees. George chivvied Ron, Hermione and Harry along, and more people bustled past too, cutting in front as they fled to the trees from further down the campsite. In amongst the pelting footsteps and panicked cries, people were shouting for each other:



"Has anyone seen Euan?"

"Kiranjit, is that you?"

"His name's Euan and he's ten years old! Has anybody found him?"

Calls echoed back and forth and, in the background, Fred could hear the masked group whooping and hollering.

"Euan must be lost," Ginny mumbled.


"The boy she's yelling for,"

"They'll find him," George promised.

"How do you-"

But another cry, this time in a language Fred didn't understand, cut Ginny off. Fred hauled her into the woods and ploughed forwards between the trees. They weren't as dense or tall as the trees in the Forbidden Forest, but the bunches of people barging past made it just as disorientating.


"Eske ou we?"


Fred turned down a narrower track through a clump of bushes, but he stumbled over a tree root. He grabbed Ginny by the shoulders to stop her falling with him. George chortled loudly, although Fred could hear that it was a nervous chortle. It was easy to tell that sort of thing about George, because it was exactly the same as Fred's own nervous chuckle.

"Wish we could light our wands," George sighed. Not being allowed to use magic outside school was a pisstake, especially here where there were thousands of witches and wizards. If they used magic, nobody would know it was them.

"How long do we have to hide for?" questioned Ginny.

"Dunno. Looked like lots of World Cup and Ministry people went to sort it," George reassured her, "And people like Dad and Bill and Charlie helping out-"

"And Percy," Ginny interrupted.

"Come off it. Percy's going to shout a lot and get in the way," scoffed Fred.

"Where's Ron?" said George sharply. Ginny's heart, which had been hammering since Dad woke her up, skipped a beat as she and the twins spun round. And then it skipped the next one.

"Bollocks," Fred ejaculated.

"Ron! Hermione!" called Ginny. Hermione had been right behind her when Dad made them run from the tent, and then she'd been right behind with Harry and Ron. They couldn't have got lost already, could they? What had happened? Had they been taken? Were they with the boy called Euan whose Mum couldn't find him?



"Ronald Bilius Weasley!" bellowed Fred.

"Someone's breaking a rule!" added George, "That normally gets Hermione's attention,"

Ginny knew that Hermione wasn't as much of a goody-goody as Ron and the twins pretended. She was always breaking rules with Ron and Harry, and they snuck out at night as much as the twins. But Ginny felt too upset to say that right now.

"Ron!" she called. Ron had to be okay. He was good at surviving. He'd nearly been stabbed by Sirius Black, and he broke his leg last term, and been chased by Professor Lupin when Professor Lupin was a werewolf. That horrified Ginny, because Professor Lupin had been really nice to her. Everyone she trusted turned out to be bad. Loads of people had told her that she wasn't bad, she'd just made a mistake. Ginny had started to believe it, but now Professor Lupin, who had told her she wasn't bad, and who was kind and patient and let her sit quietly in his office drinking tea, had turned out to be a werewolf. Bad people kept finding Ginny. Was she an idiot? Was she easy for bad people to find now? She'd trusted Professor Lupin like she'd trusted Tom, and they'd both betrayed her. Ginny wouldn't make that mistake again. You couldn't trust anybody, apart from family. Harry and Hermione were family too, and now they were lost with Ron.

"Hermione!" called George.

"Ron! Harry!"

Ron and Harry and Hermione weren't there. They were lost or been taken by the people who were making the boy spin round and the little girl hit herself in the face. Would they be being hurt too?

"We've lost them," Ginny whimpered.

"Never mind," shrugged Fred, "More food for us when we get back,"

"Fred!" Ginny squealed, but when she looked at him she could see he was frightened. Fred made more jokes than usual when he was frightened.

"They'll turn up," George guaranteed, "You know what the terrible trio are like, wandering off and getting into scrapes,"

"Never out of trouble, those kids," sighed Fred, "If only they followed our example,"

"A peaceful life," said George, "No funny business,"

"No mishaps,"

"No owls home to Mum and Dad,"

George wouldn't have admitted it to his youngest brother, but Ron, Harry and Hermione were tough, and they were clever (well, Hermione was clever. She had enough brains for the three of them, so it worked out that they were clever). They could work their way out of whatever trouble they'd ended up in- and that trouble was probably just taking a wrong turn. Ron had tripped over his massive feet, or Hermione would have caught her even-more-massive hair on a tree, or Harry had dropped his glasses. It'd be something like that which the twins would razz them about when they were back at the tent. George felt more concerned about what that herd of masked men messing with that Muggle family. They'd guffawed like they were teasing a dog with a bone. George winced, thinking of the girl thwacking herself in the face. Whoever it was under those masks, they were wrong in the head. It was the night of the World Cup Final. It was meant to be fun, and those sickos had ruined it. That Muggle family were going to need serious help after this.

Ginny was dithering. "Where are they, George? What if they've-"

"They always land on their feet," George reminded her. Ginny never used to get anxious like this. It was only in the last year she'd become jumpy and fretful, and George hated it. He felt like a crap big brother for letting what had happened happen. If he and Fred had paid more attention to Ginny, they could have stopped it. Usually George didn't mind being thought of as irresponsible, but last year with Ginny was different. She'd nearly died for Merlin's sake, while he and Fred had been mucking about teasing her for fancying Harry. George wouldn't let her be hurt again.

"Hop on," he told her, crouching down so she could jump on his back. They could move faster if he was carrying Ginny, plus there'd be no chance of her losing them like Ron had.

"I'm fine," Ginny insisted.

"You fell asleep at the table,"

"I'm not a little girl,"

"Girl- yes. Little- very," said Fred.

"Don't mollycoddle me- Fred!"

Fred picked her up by her armpits and swung her onto George's back. Ginny tried to wiggle off, then gave up and wrapped her arms around George's shoulders.

"We should keep moving," Fred decided, and marched onwards. George could see the lights from the campsite behind them, but they were deep enough into the woods that he'd lost track of which directions they'd walked. The groups of people jogging past didn't help either. Some were still calling people's names:

"Wo ist du, Sebastian?"


"Thank goodness, Deacon, there you are,"

"See?" Fred told Ginny.

He pointed to the guy called Deacon a few yards in front of them, who'd reunited with a woman who was, George assumed by what they were now doing with their tongues, his girlfriend.

"Everybody's finding each other. You and Harry will be snogging like that in no time,"

"Shut up," growled Ginny, and George felt relieved that she could engage in being teased.

"Let's sing a song," interrupted Fred, catching George's eye as he launched into, "There were ten potion bottles, sitting on a wall. Ten potion bottles, sitting on a wall, and if one potion bottle should accidentally fall…"

Ginny knew when her big brothers were trying to distract her. Fred and George were shaken, and they were probably fretting that she was too. They were right, Ginny thought, she was afraid, but it would spook the twins more if she showed it.

She joined in with their singing, "There were nine potion bottles, sitting on a wall, nine green bottles…."

They sang through Hungry Like The Werewolf, I Put A Spell On You, My Boggart Is Your Love, Aromantia, Have You Ever Seen A Phoenix Come To Tea, and several rude songs the twins made up as they went. That made Ginny snigger, a bit, and she felt less afraid, though she couldn't tell if the twins were.

"How about A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love?" Fred suggested.

"No," groaned Ginny, "I hate that song,"

A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love was a soppy love song that made Mum go misty-eyed. She played it at Christmases and on her and Dad's wedding anniversary, even though Dad hated it now too.

"We know the words, however much we've tried to block them out," sighed Fred. He lifted Ginny off George's back and onto his hip, and span her around.

"I'm not a baby," Ginny protested, "I am thirteen years old,"

She liked telling people how old she was since she'd had her birthday a fortnight ago. She was a teenager now, not the little girl who the terrible thing had happened to. That's what she told herself, and sometimes she even believed it.

"Thirteen and ten days," Fred scoffed, "Oh, come and stir my cauldron, and if you do it right, I'll boil you up some hot, strong-" he started singing, mimicking Celestina Warbeck's warbling voice. Fred knew it would make Ginny titter. But, mid-word, he noticed that the sky was glowing again. Except the light wasn't coming from the campsite they'd come from, it was coming from inside the wood. Fred stopped singing.

A shape was rising through the trees, glowing as it ascended until it was above them, illuminating the wood. People were starting to gasp and yelp, and branches rustled as they fled from whatever it was that was rising above.

"That's them," squeaked Ginny. Fred hugged her and close as he could. The shape hazed and wobbled, then focused into one shape: a skull. And out of the skull's mouth appeared a snake. Fred's breath was coming out of his lungs way too fast. Snake and skull must be bad news. Slytherins and Basilisks and…death, or whatever bad thing skulls represented. Having both of them hanging in the sky was definitely a bad sign.

Ginny shivered, and Fred heard her whimper.

"Don't be scared, Gin, it's only a firework," George dismissed.

"No, it isn't," breathed Ginny.

"It isn't, George," said Fred.

"What is it, then?" spat George.

"I don't know, but she's not stupid. You can't tell her it's a firework when it's obviously something serious!"

"I don't want to terrify her! For God's sake, it was only a year ago!"

"How do you know that's anything to do with this?" demanded Fred.

"You're the one who said it was serious!"

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" squealed Ginny, "Don't fight!"

"We're not fighting," said George through gritted teeth.

"We never fight," Fred agreed. He put Ginny onto the ground, but kept his arm around her shoulder. It was true: the twins hardly snapped at each other. The fact that they were arguing now must mean that something was definitely seriously wrong.

"You're scared," Ginny told them. She'd known it from when they first started heading towards the woods.

The twins looked at each other, which proved it. Fred and George being afraid, Ginny told herself, was not seriously disturbing. It was only the twins, not Bill or Harry or someone like that. Being with Bill or Harry when they were scared sounded very scary.

"Yeah, we are," admitted George, "But we'll stick together, like Dad told us,"

He took Ginny by the elbow and marched her further into the trees. He didn't know where he was going and the clumps of people around didn't appear to be forging any particular route. Protect Ginny, all he had to do now was protect Ginny. He and Fred had their wands, and their big brothers couldn't be too far. If he and George could keep Ginny safe, Bill and Charlie and Dad and the Ministry could take care of everything else.

George knew that Ginny would copy him if he glanced at the skull, but he couldn't help looking. He also couldn't help but wish that his baby sister wasn't here, so he could talk properly with Fred. He knew that Fred had no clue what was going on either, but George always felt better when he discussed things with his twin. Being away from Fred for long was difficult, but being in a situation like this, where George wanted to talk honestly with him but couldn't, was harder. They wouldn't have got angry at each other if Ginny wasn't with them.

After a few minutes of walking, Ginny sighed, "I wish Bill was here,"

Fred didn't respond. He was cross and embarrassed about arguing with George, and everything was getting way too freaky. Winning tens of galleons from Ludo Bagman felt like a long time ago (come to think about it, all that money was still in the tent. Fred felt a shiver of panic at the prospect of it getting nicked). He felt relieved that Ginny had spoken and given them something to tease her about.

"That's gratitude isn't it, Georgie?" he scoffed, "After we delighted you with our beautiful singing,"

Ginny giggled. Ginny had the best giggle, and Fred had missed it in the months last year when she'd been subdued and withdrawn.

"Oh, come and stir my cauldron, and if you do it right, I'll boil you up some hot, strong love to keep you warm tonight," he sang.

"Bet you wish a certain Gryffindor seeker would serenade you with that, eh Gin?" said George.

"Stop it," she growled.

"He'll burst into the kitchen at home, chuck a bunch roses at you, get down on one knee and tell you you're the only girl he wants for now and forever,"

"I don't like Harry like that anymore!" Ginny protested.

"And I'm a flobberworm," Fred scoffed.

"I like other boys!" Ginny claimed unconvincingly, "What about you?"

"Do I like other boys apart from Harry? Well, he is a tough guy to beat," sighed George, "It's tough for me to look past his luscious hair and puny muscles,"

"No, I mean your girlfriend in the village bakery," Ginny taunted.

"How do you know about her?"

"Charlie told me,"

"He's only been home for five minutes!" George grumbled.

"You shouldn't listen to anything Charlie tells you, Ginny. He's an alcoholic," chipped in Fred.

"No, he isn't,"

"Don't you remember Percy's coming-of-age party last Summer?" asked Fred, "Charlie was practically on the floor, and it wasn't even his birthday. And Egyptian cocktails aren't that strong,"

"I didn't realise that restaurant only served doubles," said a voice. Ginny, George and Fred wheeled round to see Charlie striding towards them. He looked sweaty and tattered, but unhurt. Air rushed back into Ginny's chest.

"Charlie!" cried Ginny, and threw herself at him. Charlie was the best hugger. He felt safer than Dad, Bill and Percy because he was wider and stronger. It was difficult to imagine being in danger when she was with Charlie.

"Where's the other three?" she heard him demand from above her head.

"We lost them," said George.

"Ages ago," said Fred.

If Charlie was here, Ginny realised, the situation in the campsite must have changed. Was it over? But where were Dad and the others?

"What did you do?" she asked, pulling her face away from Charlie's chest, "Who were those people in the masks?"

They were too far away to hear the hubbub from the campsite anymore, but that didn't mean it was over. Ginny knew that. And she knew that even if Dad and the others had got rid of the mob, it didn't mean that the rioters couldn't come back.

"Nobody else is going to get hurt tonight," Charlie promised, holding Ginny away from him to look into her eyes. Ginny saw that his t-shirt was ripped at the shoulder.

"What happened to your top?"

"Just a scuffle. We're a bit battered but we're all fine. Where did you last see Ron?"

This, Fred recognised, was Charlie's tough-guy act. Just a scuffle- what did that mean?

"Right at the edge," said Fred, then added defensively "There were people all around, we couldn't see properly,"

He didn't want Charlie thinking that he and George were irresponsible in a situation like this. This wasn't mucking about, and Fred wanted Charlie to know that he and George could be replied upon. Mum had been on at them all Summer about being idle and not taking stuff seriously, and it had stung more than Fred had expected it to. Charlie hadn't been academic, and Mum hadn't complained when he'd gone off chasing dragons. The twins were playing to their strengths in the same way. Couldn't Mum see how seriously they took Weasleys Wizard Wheezes? Their work had taken years. They'd put as much effort into it as Percy had put into his ten thousand NEWTs, except Percy was slaving away researching cauldron bottoms for a government stooge who didn't know his name. The twins would be their own men. Fred and George would be entrepreneurs while Charlie and Percy earned pittance. They were taking responsibility.

They took other stuff seriously, too. Ron and Hermione had a massive argument last year about Ron's mangy rat, and they hadn't spoken in weeks. Fred reckoned that was ridiculous. He couldn't imagine not being on speaking terms with Lee or Juan-Carlos or Alicia. He and George took their friends more seriously than to fall out over something stupid. They took being a Weasley seriously- they weren't embarrassed about it like Percy and Ron were. They'd looked after Ginny fine tonight, hadn't they? It wasn't their fault Ron and his friends had wandered off.

"They were coming towards the forest," Fred explained, "They didn't go back towards whatever was happening out there,"

"What was happening out there?" chimed in Ginny.

"Let's just get out of here," George interrupted. The skull-snake-light thing was in the sky and they were Merlin-knows-where in the middle of the forest.

"Yeah, I wanna get you three home. Hope Dad finds Ron and his friends," agreed Charlie. He put his hand on Ginny's shoulder and began to steer her in, Fred noted, a different direction to the one he, George and Ginny had been heading in.

"Are you sure that's the right way out?" Fred clarified.

"Yes. I've been marking my route," said Charlie.

"What does that mean? Pissing on the ground?"

"I track my movements by the trees,"

Fred cocked an eyebrow. The forest was dark and twisty, and the groups of people moving around and calling each other's names made it more disorientating. He looked at George, but George shrugged back.

"I spend most of my life traipsing through forests," Charlie continued, "Dragons like woodland. I swear I know what I'm doing,"

The twins rolled their eyes at each other. Getting Charlie started on dragons was like getting Percy started on cauldron bottoms.

"About those cocktails, then…" Fred grinned, changing the subject. And it had been funny; Charlie was legless that night in Egypt. Fred had nearly pissed himself laughing, and Charlie had nearly pissed himself full stop.

"Doubles, and you know it," said Charlie darkly. George followed Charlie, and Fred started walking behind George. George could keep an eye on Ginny, and Fred would be the lookout.

"Come off it. You live in Eastern Europe. They neck vodka for breakfast there," said Fred, "Big fella like you should have no problem downing doubles. I reckon you got wasted before you met us at the restaurant,"

"Went to one of those cool Egyptian bars Mum wouldn't let us anywhere near," added George. Fred felt glad George was joining in.

"Bet you met a girl there," Fred added.

Charlie's love life was a hazy subject. Fred couldn't work out what Charlie's deal was. He never mentioned girls, but Fred was sure he'd know if Charlie was into boys. You could tell that sort of thing, couldn't you, especially about your own brother. Charlie was a decent-looking lad, so surely somebody must be interested. Okay, probably Charlie only had room in his heart for dragons, but that didn't mean he couldn't have fun.

"One of Bill's cast-offs," jumped in George.

"Yeah, the one with the massive-"

"Shut up," said Charlie.

"Eyes," said Fred, "Massive beautiful eyes. What did you think I was going to say, you perv?"

"Now we know what keeps you running errands to the village bakery," Charlie told George. Fred cackled and slapped his twin on the back.

Ginny liked to hear the boys tease each other. She liked it even more when they ribbed each other about girls. It felt like they weren't treating her like a baby and they didn't think that their boy talk wasn't right for her delicate ears, or something stupid like that.

But the skull was still floating above them, glaring at Ginny. It felt like Tom. Ginny hadn't felt him this close for ages.

"Charlie," she breathed.


"What's that thing in the sky?

"Just idiots," said Charlie, though he didn't sound convinced.

"What happened to that family?"

"Which family?"

"In the air,"

"They're safe. We stopped the people who were hurting them, and the Ministry have put memory charms on them. In the morning it'll be a bad dream,"

Ginny hoped he wasn't lying to make her feel better. People did that to her now. They treated her like a baby, and it made everything worse.

Together, they traipsed back through the woods. You had to hand it to Charlie, George reckoned- whatever tracking knack he was using, it worked. It only took a few minutes for the trees to start thinning. Other people must have noticed it too, because stragglers started trailing after them.

"O fea ete alu iai?" a woman called, jogging to catch up with George.

"Umm…" murmured George, "Just stick with us,"

The woman looked puzzled, and George smiled reassuringly at her, more reassuring than he felt.

"Stick with us. My brother's used to forests. He works with dragons," he blurted.

He heard Fred chuckle and flick him on the ear, and George laughed, too. This seemed to pacify the woman more than anything George had actually said, and she stayed in step beside him. People around them must have seen because they drifted towards George, and after a couple of minutes there were almost ten people trailing behind the twins. George felt better being in a big group, especially now Charlie was leading them to safety. But he didn't like the nervous questions in foreign languages which the crowd were hissing at each other.

"Another sing-song?" he suggested, to shut them up, "Land of hope and glory, mother of the free…

"English?" interrupted a voice.

"Oui," said Fred.

"Tran-syl-va-ni-aaaa!" hollered the voice, clapping between syllables.

"You got lucky," muttered George. Transylvania had trashed England in the World Cup's fourth round.

"Dodgy ref!" called Charlie from the front.

"It was a fix!" chipped in Fred, "Didn't want another host to win. And did those feet in ancient time, walk up on England's mountains green?"

George joined in loudly, "And was the holy leg of lamb, on England's pleasant paths….umm, Charlie? What's the next bit?"

"I dunno, I didn't take Muggle Studies,"

George nearly said that they'd have to ask Dad, but he realised that that would set Ginny off fretting.

"Is it a bow tie?" he ploughed on.

"Yeah. A gold bow. On fire?" guessed Fred.

"Sounds like a cool idea,"

"Nearly there!" called Charlie. He kept his hand on Ginny's shoulder as he turned around to face the twins and saw the group of people that had congregated with them.

"Blimey, didn't realise we'd collected this many strays," Charlie exclaimed. Ginny thought that that was typical- Fred and George loved being in a crowd, especially if they were at the centre of it.

She craned to look at the campsite. The screams and jeers had stopped, thank goodness, and there was no sign of that poor Muggle family who'd been hurt. Although the peacefulness made Ginny feel more uneasy.

"Weasleys, we're off," Charlie commanded, "Bye everybody else,"

He waved hastily at Fred and George's gaggle, and led Ginny and the twins across the field towards the camp. Some tents, Ginny noticed, were on their sides, with camping chairs and barbecues strewn around in front of them. A few adults were dotted about tidying up.

"Charlie…" Ginny mumbled.

"We're nearly home, see? You've been dead brave tonight, Ginny," Charlie told her. He hoisted her up to sit on his hip. When the twins had done that it had made Ginny feel like a baby, but it was okay with Charlie. Ginny didn't mind being babied by her biggest brothers.

"You looked after the twins, didn't you?" Charlie whispered in her ear, and Ginny sniggered.

"Who were those people following, anyway?" Charlie called to the twins.

"Dunno, they clumped in with us," said George.

"Animal magnetism," added Fred. Ginny had no idea what that meant. Wasn't magnetism a Muggle invention Dad was obsessed with?

When they reached the tent a couple of minutes later, Ginny wriggled out of Charlie's arms and burst in through the tent doors. Percy was on his bed, holding a handkerchief to his nose. Sitting at the kitchen table was Bill. He was holding his arm in the air and dabbing a bedsheet on it.

"Ginny!" cried Percy, when he saw her.

"There you all are, thank God," said Bill, "Get inside,"

Ginny felt mollified to see Percy and Bill, but they looked a state. They must have been in a fight, and Dad, Ron, Hermione and Harry still weren't here.

Percy must have been thinking the same thing, because he interrogated: "Where are the others?"

"Couldn't find them. Should I go back to look?" asked Charlie. He'd been in charge, but now they were back here Bill was the boss.

"No," said Bill at the same time Percy said, "Yes,"

"If we keep going back and forth we'll keep missing each other. Let's wait for Dad to get home. If he hasn't found them, we can work out what to do then," Bill decided.

"What's going on?"

"It's safe now,"

"I know! Will one of you just tell me!" Ginny shouted. Didn't anybody realise that not telling her was alarming her more?

"We'll explain when Dad's back. Come here, Gin," said Bill, and held his arms out.

Grudgingly, Ginny drifted over to sit on Bill's lap. He angled his bleeding arm away from her. Ginny winced- the cut looked bad.

"More gratitude," huffed George, "We traipse round a wood with her for ages, but as soon as Bill and Charlie turn up it's goodbye twins,"

George didn't mean it. Bill was Bill, and being Bill was a big responsibility. George counted himself lucky that he and Fred were in the middle of the seven. Mum would go even more mental about their OWL results and the joke shop if they were the oldest. She'd acted differently towards George and his twin since results day. Mum had always been exasperated by them, usually irritated by them, but she let them be themselves. Everyone was allowed to be themselves in this family. How else could you explain Percy? Mum had nagged the twins to work harder, but not any more than she did with Charlie and Ron. The twins didn't whinge about money like Ron and Percy did either. They wore their Christmas jumpers and didn't care who thought that knitted sweaters weren't cool. They weren't embarrassed by having a nutcase Dad and a hundred siblings. There was nothing to be ashamed about being a Weasley. Mum knew that and she appreciated that they felt that way, didn't she? But she'd been waspish since she found the WWW stuff, and even more since exam results arrived. George and Fred couldn't do anything right for her these days, and she was as touchy as a blast-ended skrewt. Case in point: this morning, when she'd confiscated the stock they'd been hoping to flog at the World Cup, and given them an earful besides. She didn't understand. How could she? She'd been tied to the kitchen sink for twenty years. What would she know about ambition?

"You lost three of them!" Percy berated. The hankie he was holding to his face muffled his voice, making him sound even more of an idiot than usual.

"Shh. You've been really brave tonight," Bill told Percy, "Dad'll find the other three,"

George grinned at Fred, satisfied to see pompous Percy be big-brothered by Bill. Watching Percy be knocked off his pedestal was one of the best parts of having Bill and Charlie home.

"You wait 'till Harry gets back, Bill," said Fred, "Ginny won't be fussed about you once Potter turns up,"

George saw Bill take something out of his pocket and hand it to Ginny. He whispered in her ear, and then Ginny chucked the object at the twins.

"Ow!" winced George, flinching. Ginny had quite an arm on her.

"Call yourself a Beater," scoffed Charlie.

"She threw that really hard!"

"This is one of ours," said Fred, picking up the object Ginny had thrown from where it had bounced off George and onto the floor, "A Reboundable Bouncy Ball,"

"Rebounce-a-ball," added George, "Should be a minimum of twenty bounces without losing power or speed,"

It had been his idea, after a hilarious Herbology lesson in third-year, lesson when Lee had brought a basketball into the greenhouses. Rebounce-a-balls had been an early WWW invention, before the twins had developed enough skills to move on to sweets and daydream charms.

"Dud one, though," said Bill (which was obvious considering it had only bounced once).

"Where d'you get it?" George asked.

"Found it in a plantpot,"

"Thanks for not telling Mum," said Fred.

"Thought it was put to better use being used as ammunition," Bill shrugged.

"Except now you've given it to us," Fred pointed out, tossing the Rebounce-a-ball from one hand to the other.

"To chuck back at you when you annoy us," said George.

"Or…" said Fred, and threw the ball at Percy.

"Fred!" Percy cried. He tried to dodge but the ball clipped his shoulder.

"Difficult to miss, Bighead Boy," Fred sneered.

"I think you'll find his name's Weatherby," George chipped in. He reckoned that if it had been him holding the ball, he wouldn't have thrown it at Percy because, to be fair, Percy had been out duelling or scuffling or whatever. But teasing Percy was a different matter, and was acceptable whatever the circumstance.

"Stop it," Percy snapped back at him, "My job with Mr Crouch is an extremely important one, so I don't care for your mockery. I'm the one of us trying to make something of myself,"

"Yeah, making a fool of yourself," goaded Fred, "You're obsessed with a boss who doesn't even know your name,"

Percy held up the dud Rebounce-a-ball, "Yet this is all you two have made of yourselves," he sneered.

"Put a sock in it, you three," huffed Bill, "Now's not the time for laying into each other,"


"Percy, you know they're winding you up. Don't give them the satisfaction of rising to it,"

"I didn't say anything!" protested George, which wasn't strictly true.

Bill shifted Ginny off his lap as he got to his feet.

"We're tired, we're shaken, we're worried about Dad and the others, so shut your faces," he ordered.

Ginny didn't mind the arguing. Percy and the twins were always having a go at each other, so it felt good for something normal to happen tonight. The twins glared at Percy, and Percy glared at the twins. His expression, however, was blocked by the hankie he was still holding up to his nose. How did he get it? Percy didn't get into fights, but the people in masks were violent. What happened to Charlie's shirt and Bill's arm? Why wouldn't anybody explain what was happening?

Ginny sat down on Bill's lap again, and everybody fell into a tense silence. Ginny watched Fred toss the Rebounce-a-ball to George, go over to their bunkbed to search for something, and gesture a thumbs-up back at George. Percy cleaned his hankie, then pressed it back against his nose. Bill had his arm wrapped round Ginny's waist, and she twisted her head to try to read the time on his watch. Twenty to three in the morning. They had to be back soon, didn't they?

"Wonder what Viktor Krum's doing now, eh?" said Charlie.

"In bed with a pair of Veela, I expect," sighed George.

"Or four leprechauns," said Fred. Only George laughed.

"No. He'll have to attend press events," declared Percy. Fred wanted to snarl that of course the world's best Quidditch player would do press after the World Cup Final. One of Percy's worst features was his habit of saying obvious stuff as if he was the first person to ever think of it. Although the warning look Bill shot told Fred told him not to say anything more.

"Has Viktor Krum got brothers and sisters?" piped up Ginny. Fred often wondered what it was like to be his baby sister. Fantastic, probably. Ginny got away with everything. If it had turned out that Gin had spent years perfecting joke wands and trick sweets, Mum and Dad would have cooed at what a clever girl she was. If Ginny opened a joke shop, Mum would be first in the queue. But the fuss must get boring. Ginny had said that to Fred a couple of times, actually, when she'd been in a huff. She said being the only girl was pressure. The twins had scoffed, but Ginny had a point. Being a girl set her apart, and not only in Mum's eyes. Ginny even claimed, bless her, that being the youngest meant she had a lot to live up to. But not as much to live up to as any sibling of Viktor Krum's did.

"Sister. Five years older. Keeps out of the spotlight," said Charlie.

"Bet the attention's knackering," said Bill (which was bollocks. Head Boy, curse-breaker, all those girls who used to drape over him- Bill loved attention).

"I could cope with it," shrugged George, tossing his head.

Fred wanted to mutter to him that he'd gladly swap Percy for Viktor Krum, but Charlie announced sharply, "That's Dad's voice,"

Ginny jolted. Was it? She hadn't heard anything, she hadn't heard Dad. What if it was one of those bad men trying to get in?

Percy leapt to his feet. "Is it?"

He and Charlie sprinted to the tent door. Charlie got there first and stuck his head out. Ginny knew that Bill knew she was nervous, because he pressed his face against her head to kiss her hair. He knew she liked it when he did that.

"Dad, what's going on?" she heard Charlie call, and then, "Fred, George and Ginny got back okay, but the others-"

And then Dad walked into the tent, and Hermione, Ron and Harry traipsed in behind him. They looked grubby and exhausted, and Hermione had twigs sticking out of her hair. But they were here and they weren't injured.

Behind Ginny, Bill started questioning Dad on what had happened- he said something about a mark, and Dad's reply was something about a house elf. But Ginny found that she wasn't interested now in what had happened. Everyone was back together. Her Dad and all her brothers, and Harry and Hermione, safe inside the tent away from the bad people. Well, Ginny reminded herself, safe- but only for now.

Thank you for your time. I'd be very grateful if you reviewed.