The Sugar Quill
Author: Philotic_net  Story: Summer of Changes  Chapter: Default
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Summer of Changes

Summer of Changes

The second war had begun.

Harry now knew this truth in his heart.  He had known it when Dumbledore had appeared that night on Privet drive and couldn’t forget now, not even at the Burrow.  But somehow, it seemed, he had known long before...

He had known at The Department of Mysteries. Sirius’ death had changed everything. But the change had begun even sooner than that.  Cedric. His parents.  He had experienced so much loss already. "...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives."  He knew there was more to come.

When he dreamt it was of graveyards and dark archways. Always accompanied by cold, merciless laughter.

 

And yet, he could do nothing but try to go on with life as usual. The summer of his sixteenth year, Harry Potter resided in the company of his friends at the Burrow, his second home away from Hogwarts.  He quickly fell into a routine of playing two-a-side Quidditch, eating triple helpings of all Mrs. Weasley’s cooking, and relaxing in the living room around the wireless in the evenings.

He and Ron played quite a bit of wizard chess while Hermione began outlining NEWT timetables. He was thoroughly amused by Ginny Weasley, who had honed the skill of pretending to vomit behind Fleur's back to an art form. 

All in all, the holiday would have been peaceful if it hadn't been for the sense of foreboding that Harry felt. And although life went on, he couldn’t help feeling that great changes were in the mix, in all aspects of his life. At times it was like being on the edge of a great thunderstorm. The final deep breath before the plunge.

 

It was a rainy morning in July when it happened.

Harry had just finished showering and was standing in the Weasleys’ bathroom.  He rubbed an arm across the foggy mirror and prepared to shave.  It had been a couple of days and he was starting to “look like a wild man” as Mrs. Weasley had said to Bill earlier that week.  Harry took the bottle of shaving cream and lathered up his jaw. 

How strange it is shaving, he thought to himself.  I can't believe I'm so old, I- he suddenly remembered that today, July 31st, was his sixteenth birthday.  He grinned at his reflection. Sixteen years. Practically a man. But just as suddenly he was hit by the realization that he would never spend another birthday with his godfather.  A terrible sadness began to seep back into his mind.  He put the razor down and stared hollowly into the mirror.

Just then, the door flew open, and Ginny Weasley came bursting in, shaking him from his trance.  The youngest Weasley child wore a white bathrobe and carried a towel over her shoulder.  She stopped when she saw Harry, a look of embarrassment coming over her face.

"Shoot, I'm sorry.  I didn't think anyone was in here, I–" her gaze traveled down to his waist and the towel wrapped around it.  Her eyes momentarily widened in horror before she snapped them shut, a grimace on her face.  "I'm so idiotic, Harry. Sorry, I'll justgo."

"No, no, come back." Harry laughed as she spun around and ran into the door frame.  She cursed loudly.  "It’s okay.  I'll be out in one second if you just want to wait."

Slowly Ginny turned around. Her cheeks burned red as she slowly opened her eyes. Harry noticed that she kept them on his face as she walked back into the bathroom. 

"Are you sure you don't mind?"

"Take a seat."

Ginny sat down on the hamper against the wall and pulled her legs up to her chest revealing her skin up to the knee.  She rubbed at the shin she had smashed into the wall.

"I feel like Tonks," she said with a smile as she massaged her leg.

"Nah, it wasn’t your fault.” When she still appeared uneasy Harry added, “You're being very considerate. I shouldn’t have forgotten to lock it in the first place. I know how awkward it is to walk in on anyone when they're in the toilet.  Trust me, I live with the Dursleys.”

“Well, with so many brothers, you know, I’m used to not caring who I walk in on. Honestly, I seem to be the only one in the house who locks the door.”

Harry chuckled, turning back toward the mirror

"You’re looking pretty good out there practicing your chasing.”

"You think so?”  Ginny asked hopefully.  "It's a bit different to Seeking, but I really prefer Chasing, I think.  Much more interaction."

"Well, you seem to be improving a lot and quickly.  I remembered seeing you fly for the first time last year and thinking you were good then.  You slaughtered Hermione and me last time.” Ginny smirked.  “Caught the Snitch right under my nose," he added with a wink.

Ginny laughed loudly. "Yeah, let’s not kid ourselves.  Everyone knows that I couldn’t have stayed Seeker with you playing again.  I mean, let’s face it, who wants me when they can have Harry 'The Wild Snitch Whisperer’ Potter?"

Harry snorted. Ginny had sounded remarkably like Ludo Bagman.  After a moment though, he looked seriously at her reflection.  "I meant what I said.  You really are quite good."

Ginny smiled and Harry thought he saw the beginning of a blush rising in her cheeks. 

"Thanks. That means a lot coming from you." She shifted a little on the hamper and there was an awkward moment of silence before she said in a singsongy kind of voice,  "But you are really good, you know."

"I'm alright.”  Harry grinned and picked up the razor.  He immediately felt very happy to have given her a compliment.  He suddenly got a whiff of a pretty, flowery smell, and his head momentarily felt very foggy.

"Are you sure you don't mind if I watch you shave?"

"What?" he asked, coming out of his daze.  "Have you never seen anyone shave before?" He arched an eyebrow.

"Of course I have!” Ginny retorted, looking slightly indignant but laughing the next moment. “ I’ve got six brothers, haven’t I?  I used to watch Bill and Daddy do it when I was really young.”  She laughed a little again.  "It just seems.  You know.  Weird… having hair on your face.”  She said it with a tone that suggested disgust, but also maybe just a little bit of wonder.  She certainly was feeling less embarrassed anyway, he noticed.

Harry fought back a laugh when she pulled a face as if she had been thinking about hair growing on chins and then had been too disturbed by the thought to continue.

Suddenly, Harry was very aware how stupid he looked talking to her with a white beard of shaving cream on his face and neck.  He looked back at himself in the mirror and tried to concentrate on the task at hand.  He moved the razor quickly across his jaw, all the while acutely aware that she was watching him.  She was studying his face, more engrossed in his shaving than he would have ever imagined anyone could be.  Certainly more interested than he had ever been.

Then, all at once, came a wave of self-consciousness.  He was missing a shirt and all that was covering his lower body was a towel.  In fact, Harry didn't think he had ever worn this little in front of a girl, not even in the Quidditch changing rooms. He shuddered slightly at the thought of what Molly Weasley would make of all of this if she walked in at that exact moment.

 But then again, it was just Ginny Weasley.  To his alarm, he abruptly realized Ginny wasn't wearing much either.  Her white bathrobe was made of a thin material and when she leaned forward he could almost see down the front of it.  He jerked his eyes back to his own reflection.

Where the bloody hell had that come from?  He had no desire to look down the front of her robe.  She was he best mate’s little sister.  She was practically his little sister! 

But for the first time, Harry realized that his best friend's little sister looked very good.  The sight of her inspired an all too familiar feeling rising low in his stomach.  His gaze slid slowly back to her body and rested there.  A little voice in the back of his head scolded him for looking, but he couldn’t seem to stop.  He was seeing Ginny Weasley in a totally new light.  He pulled his gaze away from her chest and back to her face.  A little too late, though.

Ginny was staring straight into his eyes and, Goodness! How brown they were!  Harry felt himself flush.  He quickly looked away and glared furiously at himself in the mirror. She’s going to think you're such a creep!  Say something quick!

"Er... erm.”  Harry's mind fumbled for something to say.  Anything that would cover up the fact that he had just obviously been staring at her ...well...her.... "Um..." his voice was unnaturally high sounding. He tried to keep a calm demeanor while continuing gliding his razor blade down his jaw and over his neck. He cut himself and winced. Finally he said lamely, "You know, girls shave too."

"True," Ginny said, looking at his reflection. “A little more carefully I might add." She arched an eyebrow at him but sounded totally natural. She hadn't noticed after all. A feeling of great relief swept over Harry. Crisis averted. I'll just pretend it didn't happen.

She frowned and rolled her eyes. "I never really understood that. Why girls have to have smooth legs and boys don't. Pretty dumb, if you ask me."

"Yeah. Yeah, it is." Feeling suddenly at ease, Harry added jokingly, “So I get to watch you shave next, right?"

He could have slapped himself. Immediately after it came out of his mouth he realized what it sounded like. He saw Ginny stand up behind him. Harry spun around.

"Ginny, I'm sorry. That sounded weird, I didn't mean anything by it, I–"

Ginny was so close to him their noses would have touched had she been half a foot taller. She looked up into his eyes and inside all of his organs suddenly decided to liquefy. She wasn't smiling. For a second Harry was sure she was going to slap him.

He felt totally naked regardless of the towel and to his horror he immediately realized that if Ginny were any closer, their noses wouldn't be all that touched. Instantly Harry clasped his hands in front of him. He stood there feeling horrified for several more moments.

After an eternity of her piercing eyes, from somewhere far off, Harry heard a voice say, barely above a whisper, "You're bleeding.”

"What?" said a dumb voice. It was his. Then he remembered cutting himself. "Oh, yeah, I–" he chanced moving one arm away and reached for a tissue but Ginny's hand grabbed his wrist.  His heart was pounding in his chest. A light-headed feeling struck him and his knees felt weak; he started to sway. The spot where her skin touched him burned with warmth that radiated out, down his arm, through his chest, and eventually situated itself, to his dismay, in his...well...his...-

"Let me do it. It’s my fault for distracting you." Harry gulped. Did she mean something by the way she had said 'distracting'? Ginny calmly took a piece of tissue from the box on the counter. Gently she dabbed Harry's cheek. He stood very still as she calmly washed the blood from his face. It wasn't a very deep cut and had already stopped bleeding by the time she finished. He tried to speak, but all words floated from his head when she placed her hand on his cheek. For a moment, she just looked at him, her brow furrowed, her hand touching his face.

"All better," she said finally, all the while staring straight through him with those dark brown pools. Harry stopped breathing.

After what seemed like days, Ginny took her hand away from his face.
It was like stepping out of a warm shower and although Harry still felt little electric pulses coursing through his body, he couldn’t help but wish that she was still touching him. He was feeling very confused as she turned and grabbed her towel off the hamper. All he could think was that he needed to get out of the bathroom as soon as possible. Then Ginny's calm voice broke the silence.

“I don't think I'll take a shower after all. I thought I saw Fleur coming and we can’t keep her majesty waiting." Harry mouthed wordlessly as she slung her towel over her shoulder. He gulped when she brushed past him, and with a final, "By the way, happy birthday. Lock the door next time!" she hurried out into the hallway.

 

*************************************************************

When Harry left the bathroom several minutes later, he was beginning to feel more normal. Perhaps he had imagined the whole strange business. Nothing, after all, had really happened.

He promptly assured himself that indeed, no, nothing had happened, aside from his failure to lock a door, something he wouldn’t be forgetting in the future. In a quarter of an hour he had pushed it from his mind and when he ran into Ron and Ginny planting Dungbombs in Fluer’s trunk later that afternoon, he truly had forgotten that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. 

However for the rest of the summer Harry would feel a bit light-headed when he smelt a certain flowery aroma he never could place. And, somehow, he couldn’t shake the feeling that great changes, in all aspects of life, were afoot.

 

 

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