The Sugar Quill
Author: JK Ashavah (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Summer Visitors  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.


Disclaimer: The people, places, situations and the like of the Harry Potter universe are not mine. They belong to J.K. Rowling, AOL Time Warner, and the publishers of Harry Potter, including, but not limited to, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Scholastic Books. I have no claim to them. I swear I am only playing and will return them in good condition when I'm done.

Author's Note: There are two acknowledgements I must make regarding this story. First, to the Queens of Harry and Ginny and the rest of the marvellous community at Gryffindor Tower for inspiring me to write something like this. Second, to my marvellous sister TQ for giving me this plot bunny to play with! Once it was given to me, I had to do something to get it out of my closet (where the wretched things insist on taking up residence)!

And a final thank you to Helen Theresa, Imogen, and Elanor Gamgee for giving up their time to provide their wonderful beta-reading insights.




It was sweet summertime in Surrey; the gardens of the assorted townhouses and country cottages scattered over the land were bright green, spurred in their growth by the recent rain, not looking at all like they would soon go brown and shed their leaves with the onset of winter.

Everything seemed peaceful and tranquil. There was not a sign in the scenery of the darkness that loomed over the lives of so many. No hint of the second terrible incarnation of the evil Lord Voldemort. Lord of Darkness. He Who Must Not Be Named.

No, the animals were frolicking in the fields, citizens were lazing in the sun, or going swimming, the sun was gently overlooking the scene, and the temperatures were pleasant.

Not that Harry Potter could notice much from the bedroom where he had cooped himself up since his return from Hogwarts for the summer holidays. Harry's life had been getting steadily worse since Lord Voldemort's resurrection when he was fourteen. That terrible time spent in the graveyard of Little Hangleton still haunted him, both in his waking hours and in the dark time between sunset and dawn, when nightmares abound and the imagination sees more than is there.

Voldemort's power had grown until it was no longer possible for his reappearance to be ignored or denied. It was only when he had started killing some of the more important Ministry officials, and those who had chosen to ratify his second coming, that Fudge had finally truly woken up and waged war on him, but his reign of terror was too well-established by then.

Harry had lived under the constant shadow of fear. Not just his, but also that of those around him, who dreaded what might happen to him. He had been unable to prevent some of their terror infecting him, particularly after what he had seen in that graveyard.

And on top of that, he was almost seventeen, an age of high stress and emotional trauma. He was preparing to take his N.E.W.T.s at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and his two best friends were eying each other in a way that made Harry feel like an intruder.

Of course, he was happy for Ron and Hermione, but seeing them only reminded him of his own dismal relationships. There had been some, but each of them had ended in the same way. Nothing really spectacular or even particularly noticeable had happened to end them, but just when the two of them were beginning to get slightly serious, they both realised that this was not what they wanted.

Harry had been too badly affected by his experiences in his fourth year, and decided to forsake romance, for a while at least. He preferred lurking in a corner of the Gryffindor common room with Ron and Hermione, sharing quiet games of wizard chess or using spare moments to do their homework or study for exams.

The only people he felt he could truly relate to about what had happened were his closest friends, Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid, and perhaps even Cho Chang. She had, after all, lost Cedric. But Harry could not bring himself to speak to her. It as still too painful, for every time he looked into her eyes, he saw in his mind images of her and Cedric floating across his vision. He was sure she could see the same. Either way, what little there had ever been between them had vanished like a mist - visible until Harry had tried to grasp it in his fourth year, then slipping slowly away.

And then there was the business with Ginny Weasley. After he had decided to give up on love, Harry had begun to notice her more and more. He had thought it somewhat ironic that just when he promised himself he wouldn't think of anyone in that way that he should seriously begin doing so, and be unable to help it. Ginny was no longer the shy, anxious little girl who spilled things whenever he went near and watched him with big, deer-like eyes. She had grown into an attractive young lady over the time Harry spent on his failed relationships, and suddenly her public image had changed. She was no longer just the youngest Weasley, but was noticed by boys in her year (and the ones below and above her). To Harry, she had lost the status of Ron's little sister who was always there and become someone far more complex, someone whom his feelings about were far more complicated.

Ginny mostly ignored the attention of the boys, not cruelly, just enough to let them know she was not interested. And that had included Harry. She could not fail to have noticed his new-found feelings, but she merely smiled politely whenever they met, leaving Harry with the distinct feeling that slimy, tickly slugs were writhing in his stomach. He always felt sick and anxious when he saw her. Always. He knew he would forget his promise to himself in an instant for Ginny if she wanted. Not like that was ever going to happen, though.

And to make things worse, Ron had noticed. He hadn't said much, but Harry was sure he had felt him grow slightly colder just before term ended. As always, he had offered to take Harry for part of the summer, but Harry had heard nothing from any of the Weasleys since, and so did not look forward to his usual merciful escape to the Burrow.

Hermione had written, sounding particularly pleased with herself and her life. Harry had felt a bittersweet pang as he read her letter. She was so joyous. Surely he deserved a small slice of the joyous cake she and Ron nibbled? Did being Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, automatically disqualify him from normality of any kind? As if the fear, pain, and memories aren't bad enough, he reflected bitterly as he sprawled on his bed.

He had been trying to write a History of Magic essay, but the thought of history was making him shiver. How many Dark wizards had there been in history? There were too many to count, and now the worst for a century was back, and searching, searching frantically, for him. And no-one, not even Dumbledore, could seem to stop his slow but ever so steady rise.

A shudder passed over Harry. Sometimes he felt that it was all too much to bear. The nightmares, and the constant torment of wondering what Voldemort was doing; where his devoted servants were; even what was happening to his father's two remaining friends (that Harry knew of), Remus Lupin and Harry's godfather, Sirius Black. (Harry had long since disowned Peter Pettigrew as a friend of his father's.) They were somewhere, working for Dumbledore, but Harry had had no correspondence from Sirius.

He understood the necessity for secrecy, with Death Eaters and the Ministry now both after Sirius, but the lack of correspondence with him only heightened Harry's sense of loneliness.

He sighed and shut his textbook, sliding from the bed and wandering over to the window, which he opened, and leaning on the sill, drinking in the fresh air, letting the cool breeze tousle his hair, wishing more than anything that he was not Harry Potter, but instead someone with a normal life.

There were two happy thoughts to inspire Harry through the long weeks of isolation. One was the approaching return to Hogwarts, slow as it was. The other was that, while Ron had not furthered his invitation to stay, the Dursleys still believed Sirius was a sufficient threat that they had best be careful not to make Harry too upset with them. So he had been allowed to seek solitude in his bedroom when he wished, only occasionally disturbed by his horrid relatives.

And after this year, he could leave them. He could get a job in the wizarding world, move away from the Dursleys, and live at least a little more happily ever after. But for the full fairy tale happy ending, he would need Voldemort to be destroyed ....

And Ginny to return his feelings.

He sighed, glancing at his alarm clock. It was almost time for dinner, and as much as he loathed the thought of spending any more time than absolutely essential with the Dursleys, he knew that it would not be a good idea to skip the meal, even if it did consist almost entirely of celery, tomatoes, and lettuce.

He turned away from the window and trudged down the stairs, his face a mask of misery. He tried to force it into something less mopey; after all, he didn't want the Dursleys to think they had succeeded in their life goal of destroying his happiness and self-esteem.

Harry was silent throughout the meal, watching Dudley with disgust. Mealtimes were times for vegetables and healthy food, for Dudley's eating habits still meant that the school nurse thought he needed a diet. The boy remained repulsively fat, and gobbled his "rabbit food" greedily, even though Harry was certain he would have preferred a burger with chips.

Harry had stocked up on the train journey at the end of the school year, and still had a stash of wizarding food concealed in his room, so he didn't go hungry as Dudley did. He enjoyed seeing his cousin moping around, longing for food while he had a secret hoard such as Dudley had never dreamed of.

He was watching Dudley stare as though he were famished at the empty plate before him, and wondering if his cousin would actually eat the plate (he certainly looked hungry enough), when an unexpected thing happened. The doorbell rang.

Harry glanced up. Not many people called at the Dursley house at dinner time. Most of Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's friends and associates were "more civilised" (normally said with a haughty sniff) than to do so. Harry wondered idly who it was. The uncertainty set off small stones in the avalanche of fear, which tumbled down the mountainside, picking up more as they went.

What if, somehow, Voldemort had found a way to get past however it was that Dumbledore protected Harry? Panic was rising, and Harry fought his nerves, but it was a difficult battle that he was losing.

Throwing a foul look at Harry, Uncle Vernon rose to his feet, obviously not wanting to risk anybody important meeting his "freak of a nephew". Harry was glad inside he had not been sent. At least if it was Voldemort or a Death Eater, he would have some warning.

He heard the door open. There was a moment of silence, in which the avalanche in Harry's stomach crashed along, destroying everything in its path and making him feel sick, then a pleasant male voice spoke.

"Good evening, sir. I do hope we're not disturbing anything?"

The voice sounded vaguely familiar. Harry's heart felt suddenly lighter. It wasn't the voice of any Death Eater he knew, nor was it Voldemort's cold hiss, yet it was someone he'd met, he was certain of it. Aunt Petunia and Dudley were watching the doorway curiously, and Harry slipped from his chair, creeping up to it.

"Hey!" Dudley said roughly, waddling over to where his cousin stood.

Harry knew he only needed to say one sentence, one that had worked countless times before.

"I'm writing my godfather tonight," he said innocently. Aunt Petunia's face froze in horror, and Dudley leapt back. Harry could see neither of them would dare oppose him, and he was curious, so he slipped through the door and crept down the hall.

"I don't want any of your tickets or whatever it is you're selling," Uncle Vernon was saying brusquely to the visitor.

"Oh, no. We're not selling tickets," the kind voice said.

"Well, what are you doing then?"

"Well, I do believe it is customary for the guardians to meet the girlfriend. Do correct me if I'm wrong?"

This seemed to have Uncle Vernon stumped. He stood, flabbergasted.

The words had obviously carried into the kitchen, for Dudley and Aunt Petunia suddenly burst through the door. Dudley shoved Harry aside, his piggy eyes wide with delight, and Petunia, nosy woman that she was, wormed her way towards Uncle Vernon.

Harry was thoroughly confused by now. He didn't have a girlfriend, and Dudley most certainly didn't, or at least, Harry didn't think he did. Besides, if the person was talking about Dudley, he'd have said parents ...

Dudley's huge mass was by now visible to the mysterious guest.

"Oh, I don't mean you," he said, his pleasant tone beginning to transform into something less easygoing.

Harry shoved his way roughly past Dudley until he found himself in the doorway.

There, on the mat, were three of the people he most wanted to see in the world. Ron was grinning, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt. Bill, his eldest brother, stood there wearing a black leather jacket and torn jeans. And Ginny, more beautiful than seemed possible, was standing like a gorgeous vision, her red hair tied back at the nape of her neck, the smile on her face widening as she saw Harry, clothed simply but elegantly in a summery skirt and blouse.

Dudley's jaw dropped and he stared stupidly from Harry to Ginny. It took Harry a minute to register what was happening. Bill had said ... The girlfriend ...

"Your girlfriend is here?" Uncle Vernon snarled, furious, rounding on Harry, his face blotchy with anger. "You dared to have the sheer nerve ..."

A grin crept over Harry's mouth. He stepped out onto the mat, wrapped an arm around Ginny's waist and, revelling in the expression of shock spreading across Dudley's face, spoke.

"Yeah, that's right. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, Dudley, meet Ginny Weasley. My ..." He glanced at her, and she was smiling encouragingly. Harry took heart in this. "My girlfriend."

"Go hide in my car, Harry, I'll get your stuff," Bill hissed through clenched teeth. Harry glanced over his shoulder and saw a sleek Muggle car parked in front of the house. He grinned and nodded.

"Excuse me, but we're here to take Harry away for the rest of the holidays, so if you'll just let me through, I'll go get his stuff ..." Bill's voice was so calm and reasonable that it seemed impossible to refuse, and the Dursleys, still shocked at the thought Harry had a girlfriend, and an extremely attractive one at that, let Bill through. Ron followed his brother into the house.

"Don't worry Harry, I know what to get," he murmured as he slipped past Harry and Ginny.

"Hey, Ron." Ron slowed for the briefest moment. "Thanks."

Ron grinned.

"Any time." He winked, and Harry and Ginny fled to the car before the Dursleys could do anything. Ginny was giggling, still beautiful. Harry's heart felt warm and his stomach as though he'd just drunk all the Butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks.

He and Ginny tumbled into the car.

"But ..." Harry gasped, short of breath partly from running and partly from exhilaration. "How did you know ..."

"Ron told me," Ginny giggled. "Besides, I could see how you felt. I just, oh, I don't know, it was partly playing hard-to-get, I think, and partly that I felt so incredibly shy and trembly inside."

"But I thought Ron was mad at me ..."

"Only a little bit," Ginny said shyly. "And mostly for being, as he said, 'an utter git' about me." She gave a winning smile, and Harry felt his heart warm all over again.

He gazed around the car.

"Who had the idea to ..." he began. Ginny grinned.

"All of us. Me and Bill and Ron. We all had our own schemes, and we combined them!"

"Well, it seems to have worked," Harry commented, gazing at the house through the window. Bill and Ron were just emerging with his trunk, Hedwig's cage balanced on top.

"You just can't take him!" Uncle Vernon blustered as they pushed past.

"Watch us!" Ron replied gleefully.

"Don't forget Sirius!" Harry hollered from the car. The Dursleys looked around nervously, as if afraid someone would hear a mention that they were associated in any way with a person with such a peculiar name, as well as their usual fear of the supposed mass murderer.

"Now, see here!" Uncle Vernon cried when he was finally capable of speech again.

"I do," Bill replied casually, "and three more repulsive people I've never met in my life."

That stunned the Dursleys long enough for Bill and Ron to make their escape to the car. Laughing, they tumbled into the front seat. Harry wound down the window as Bill started the car.

"Bye!" he cried, waving manically. "I'll be sure to tell Sirius about this!"

The Dursleys all wore stony expressions, unable to believe how easily they had been outwitted.

"When they're prepared for you to come, they're so much harder," Harry sighed. "I've never got away that easily."

"Call it sheer Weasley genius," Ginny said, leaning close to Harry and smiling mysteriously. She had to be the most beautiful girl alive. And she had gone to all the trouble to do this just to give him a good holiday, and to let him know how she felt.

"Thank you," Harry whispered. She didn't reply, but instead leant across gently, and pressed her lips gently against his. Harry felt a warm glow spread across his body, filling him with a gorgeous contentment that he felt he could bask in forever. He wrapped his arms around her as best he could, careful not to move too suddenly and snag the seatbelt or startle Ginny.

He felt he could deal with his fear now. Now he had the girl he longed for, anything was possible. Exam stress could be handled, and he'd have someone new to help soothe his fears, and tell his nightmares to if he felt the need. He had a soul mate. He could get through anything with Ginny by his side.

Bill glanced at them in the rear-view mirror, smiled knowingly, and turned the corner out of Privet Drive and away from Harry's life without Ginny.

* * *
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