The Sugar Quill
Author: Donna  Story: The Sweetest Present  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.

Harry Potter opened the window of the smallest bedroom in number 4 Privet Drive and stared out the window at the clear blue sky – devoid of both clouds and the swooping owls that might possibly bring him presents celebrating his sixteenth birthday. True, owls didn’t often fly during the day, but by noon Harry had traditionally already gotten all of his birthday presents from Hermione, Ron, and Hagrid.

There could be dozens of things that might delay the owls, Harry thought realistically. Errol could have gotten sick or lost. Hedwig might have run into trouble with the Death Eaters – Harry’s stomach lurched at the very thought. His pet owl was pure white, and far too distinctive for his liking. Maybe I can Charm her to be brown or something, he thought, and then smiled grimly at Hedwig’s likely reaction to the very idea. She probably would refuse to send letters for a month.

This unpleasant reverie was broken by the sound of a large car pulling out of the garage of Number 4 Privet Drive. Were the Dursleys leaving him alone? Harry raced out of his room, ran down the steps, and saw the note that was tacked onto the door in his uncle Vernon Dursley’s messy, angry-looking script.

Boy-

Gone to get Dudley a haircut. Will be back by six. No funny stuff.

Harry was ecstatic. Even if he didn’t get any presents from his friends, this was the best birthday present the Dursleys had ever gotten him – six hours alone to do whatever he wanted.

Then Harry realized that, even with the Dursleys gone, the most exciting activity this birthday held for him was probably eating Aunt Petunia’s leftover Chinese food and trying to write Snape’s essay on truth potions, especially Veritaserum. Harry rolled his eyes and set off to pick the lock of the closet the Dursleys had stuffed his trunk, broomstick, and textbooks into.

Luckily, they hadn’t taken his wand. During the second week of vacation Harry had gotten a letter from Hogwarts that permitted underage wizards to use basic spells this summer, provided they kept it a secret from the Muggles.

A simple Alohomora charm opened the double-locked door, and Harry was setting off to write his essay while eating moo shoo chicken when he heard a series of short, quick taps on his bedroom window.

Heart leaping, he opened the window. Four owls flew in, each holding a very large, unwieldy package. Harry quickly took each package from its respective bearer, and then tried to suppress a laugh when all four owls simultaneously tried to get into Hedwig’s cage in order to have some rest and drink some water. A timely Expanding Charm by Harry made their struggles easier.

Harry tentatively opened the packages, and each was gratifying. From Hagrid he got a suspicious-looking box with several crudely punched holes in it. Inside he found a tiny kitten, which looked a little like a baby leopard, with big ears, spotted fur, and a long tail. It meowed at him piteously, and he ran his hand through its fur unconsciously while he started opening his other gifts. Hermione would know what the kitten-like thing did. Knowing Hagrid as he did, Harry was sure that the pet was more than what met the eye.

From Hermione herself he got a large, boring-looking leather-bound book. The cover was inlaid with the title ‘Useful Charms for Everyday Use.’ Wondering why Hermione had bought it for him, he flipped open the cover to the inside cover, in which Hermione had written him a short note.

Dear Harry,

You don’t actually think I’d get you a book with as boring a title as that, do you? Open to the first page. Enjoy. Please, please don’t tell anyone that it’s from me – I’ve just gotten my prefect’s letter and I’d day of shame if Professor McGonagall found out.

I’m over at Ron’s house right now. I hope you can come soon!

Hermione

Intrigued, Harry flipped to the title page, which read ‘Spells for Making Mischief and Merry.’ His eyes opened wide. Flipping through the pages, Harry saw chapters with titles like ‘How to make your comic book look like a textbook,’ ‘how to draw pictures that move,’ (like the Marauder’s Map, Harry thought) and ‘how to get back at your worst enemies without your teachers noticing.’ Harry vowed to use some of these the moment he got to the Weasley household. If Dumbledore would ever let him go to the Weasley’s household.

With that grim thought, Harry opened the gift from Sirius and Remus. His eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped in shock.

The gift was the wizarding equivalent of a board game. It looked like a miniature Quidditch stadium, with seven small action figures on each side, one team dressed in red and the other in gold. The letter from Sirius and Remus ordered Harry to get good use out of it with Ron and Hermione. Harry didn’t think that would be a problem. Maybe he could beat Ron at this, since he had no chance with chess.

With that thought, Harry opened Ron’s gift. It actually held two packages - one carefully wrapped and box-shaped, and the other looked like a haphazardly-packed envelope. Harry opened this one first. A note fell out.

Harry, mate-

Happy Birthday! Dumbledore finally said you can come over, so we’ll be by to pick you up tomorrow at noon- by car this time, and it’ll only be me, not Gred and Forge, those idiots. Somehow they got some idiot to send them this huge bag of galleons to sponsor Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and they’ve been working on it all summer. Even more explosions than usual. Mum’s absolutely furious, but she decided it’s their way of dealing with grief over all the Death Eater stuff and she’s not doing anything about it. Speaking of which, did you hear about the Patils?

Harry took a deep, steadying breath. It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, he told himself.

It was a real shock to know that Parvati wasn’t going to be in any of our classes anymore, giggling with Lavender, staring wide-eyed at Trelawney, all that stuff. It was also weird to realize that the only time I ever spoke to Padma was when I took her to the ball last year… but we can talk about it later.

Anyway, this is your gift. Hope you like them. I’ve been working on these for years, never thinking much of them, but Ginny came into my room the other day to steal my History of Magic textbook- she lost hers- and she saw them and told me how good they were. So here, enjoy. See you tomorrow.

Ron

Harry opened the envelope. Inside were about a hundred sheets of paper, covered with sketches Ron had carefully traced from the margins of his textbooks. Harry was surprised to see that they *were* good, really good in fact. Some were comical and some were realistic, but all were very accurate. Harry grinned at some of the pictures of Snape, his hair penciled to a high luster to show how oily it was, and looked thoughtfully at one particular picture of Hermione, her hair spilled onto a desk, doing her homework. Her eyes were fixed intently on the parchment, and her mien was serious yet happy. In that picture, she was beautiful.

Suddenly, he realized why Ron was such a prat when he was around Hermione. Why he got furious at the mere mention of Viktor Krum’s name. Why he flushed red whenever Hermione tried to be nice to him. Harry grinned. Why hadn’t he thought of that before? It was so… obvious.

Harry was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost completely forgot about his last present – until the kitten in his lap jumped up and landed on top of it, purring like a lawn mower. Harry’s brow furrowed. Who could it be from?

There was a letter attached to the top.

Harry-

I couldn’t help but see your notes to Ron saying how bored you were in History of Magic when I nicked his textbook. So I bought you these- Happy Birthday. I hope you enjoy them. I charmed then specially to help give you ideas for essays and such.

Don’t let the Muggles get you down. Remember, this year you can actually turn Dudley into a newt, instead of just pretending. Although I think he’d make a rather fat newt. Maybe you should turn him into a pig or something.

Happy Birthday again,

Ginny Weasley

Inside the box were about two-dozen sugar quills.

Ginny had obviously charmed them not only to help him get ideas but also to be different flavours. There were plain white ones, which were regular sugar; red, for cherry; blue, for blueberry; purple for grape; green for apple; and gold for honey. Harry broke off the nib of one of the cherry-flavored ones and sucked on it. It was absolutely delicious. Harry and Ginny had become quite good friends during fifth year, once he realized she was more than just ‘Ron’s little sister’ and she realized he was more than just ‘the famous Harry Potter.’ She was a playful, pretty, sweet girl, and he liked her a lot. But they had never exchanged gifts of any sort before. Why had she decided to start?

~*~

The next day at noon, the Weasley’s Ford Anglia pulled up to the Dursley’s house and honked loudly three times. Harry, all ready with his trunk and cage for Hedwig, was out the door in a moment. “Bye, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, Dudley!” he called.

“See if you can stay there ext summer as well!” Vernon called back. Harry rolled his eyes and sprinted out to the Weasley’s car, heaving his trunk into the back of the car and sliding into the car. “Hey, Ron.”

Ron was in the front seat. “Welcome back, Harry!” he said jovially. “Nice to see you, mate! We’ve had a time getting Dumbledore to let you come here, he thought you were safest with the Muggles, but there’s not much left to vacation anyway and he finally gave in. So now we can go down to Diagon Alley and stuff together. Hermione’s already over,” he said with deliberate casualness.

“Yes, and they fight *every single day*” came an amused voice from beside him. Harry turned around and noticed for the first time that he was sitting next to Ginny Weasley. He smiled at her. “Hey, Ginny. How are you?”

“I’m good,” she said. “Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks,” he said. “The quills are great. Delicious. Thanks.”

“You got him a present, Ginny?” Ron asked teasingly.

Ginny flushed a little at that, tingeing her fair skin a light pink. Harry, noticing her discomfiture, deliberately changed the subject. “Yeah, she did. By the way, thanks, Ron. I loved the pictures. Great job. I didn’t know you were an artist.”

“Neither did I,” Ron joked back. “I’ve been practicing quite a bit recently, though. Some of the stuff I’ve done is quite good. I’ll show you when we get back.”

~*~

“Harry!” Hermione shrieked, running towards him. She wrapped her arms around his neck tightly, nearly bowling him over. “How’ve you been?” she asked anxiously.

Harry gave her a fleeting grin. “Fine, I guess. You know, the usual. The Dursleys are horrible. I’ve no clue what’s been going on in the Wizarding World since I left Hogwarts.”

“Alright, you two, enough with the tearful welcomes,” Ron said gruffly. “Harry, mate, bring your trunk up to my room. The twins and Mum should be home soon.”

“Aren’t they here?” Harry asked.

“No. Went off to try and get a contract with Zonko’s for the Wheezes and then to go get their Apparition licenses. Mum refused to let them go alone. With good reason, of course. So they rented a house in Hogsmeade for the rest of the summer,” Ginny declared, smiling. “Harry, I’ve brought your trunk in.”

“Help him bring it upstairs, will you, Gin?” Ron asked. “I’ve got to ask Hermione something.”

Harry shot Ginny a questioning glance. She shrugged her shoulders. “You hold up that side, I’ll hold up this one?” she asked Harry loudly.  Together, they heaved the trunk up the stairs to Ron’s room. Already they could here the sounds of Ron and Hermione fighting from the front hall.

“Have they been like this the whole break?” Harry asked Ginny.

 

She rolled her eyes. “Ceaselessly. Not every day, luckily, but they’ve been fighting nonstop since she arrived. First about whether to invite you or not, then about what courses to take, and sometimes about the *stupidest* things, like whether or not Hermione should use an anti-frizzing charm on her hair. Honestly.”

They finally succeeded on getting the trunk into Ron’s room. Harry opened the door with one hand. “So, Ginny, do you…” but he cut himself off when he entered the room.

“D’you like it?” Ginny asked anxiously. “I convinced him to do it, but he’s convinced it looks stupid.”

Ron had removed all of the Chudley Cannons posters from his walls and instead drawn life-sized pictures of several people – Harry in his uniform, Hermione in her dress robes, the twins in matching sweaters, Ginny in a short Muggle-style dress with her hands on her hips. Harry had to admit they were very good.

“I like it,” he told her. “Much better than all of the orange and black.”

“Thanks,” she said briefly, smiling at him. Her dark brown eyes sparkled. “Ron’s coming up, I can hear him. Have fun sharing a room with him these two weeks.”

“What are you two talking about?” Ron asked, barging into his room.

“Nothing,” Ginny and Harry said at once, smiling at each other.

~*~

Ginny surprised Harry many times over the next week. They became good friends, since Ron and Hermione were so caught up in fighting with each other that they had little time to spend with either Harry or Ginny. It got especially bad one night when Hermione knocked on the door of the room Harry and Ron were sharing.

“I came to say good-bye for the day,” she announced. “I know it’s only sunrise, but Viktor’s in from Bulgaria and I’m meeting him in Diagon Alley. I’ll speak to you later,” she said, turning away. 

“You’re going to meet Vicky in the alley?” Ron asked loudly. “Have fun. I’m sure you will.”

Hermione slowly turned back around to glare at him. “I don’t want to know what that means, Ronald Weasley, but I’ll be perfectly happy if you take it back right this instant,” she said warningly, her face turning a bright red. Ron’s ears were red too.

“Excuse me,” Harry said, rolling his eyes and taking the opportunity to leave the room. He wasn’t even sure that Ron and Hermione noticed his departure. He took his box of sugar quills with him, figuring that he could eat one or two and it might wake him up.

Harry, not knowing what else he should do, tromped down to the living room. Ginny was sitting curled up on the Weasley’s beat-up couch, wearing jeans and a light blue tank top. She grinned sleepily at Harry when she saw him.

“Morning,” she greeted him, yawning. “I got up early, so I decided to read something. Why are *you* up so early?”

“Ron and Hermione,” he said shortly.

Ginny grinned and looked as though she were biting back laughter. Harry was glad she didn’t giggle. Giggling was something that only foolish girls like Lavender Brown did. Harry couldn’t help but notice that she looked very pretty this morning, her dark auburn hair up in a messy bun with a few tendrils escaping to gently frame her pale heart-shaped face. Mahogany eyes twinkled impishly with repressed laughter.

“I know, I know, it’s ridiculous,” he told her. “I wish one of them would just get over themselves and admit they liked the other person already.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Ginny answered, laughing. “It’s rather fun just watching them suffer.”

“Sadist,” he accused playfully, tickling the soles of her feet.

Ginny squealed. “Stop it! You know how ticklish I am, Harry, you tickled me once with a feather last year and I nearly died. Stop it!” she exclaimed, trying to grab him.

Harry grabbed a quill from his box and started to tickle her feet with the spun sugar. She squealed louder. “Harry, that’s even worse than the regular feather kind!” she gasped breathlessly.

“What’s going on down there?” Ron yelled from upstairs.

“Nothing!” Harry shouted back, and continued his assault on Ginny. Finally he dove on top of her and started tickling her under the ribs, where she was most ticklish of all, abandoning the sugar quill for his fingers alone. Ginny gasped, laughing so much her abdomen hurt, and tried to push Harry off.

“What the heck are you two doing?” Ron queried. But his voice wasn’t coming from upstairs anymore. In fact, Ron was standing right next to the couch.

“Oh.” Harry ceased his attack on Ginny as quickly as he had begun. Sliding off of her. “Er, I was just, um, tickling her, because, um…” Harry left off lamely.

“Sod it, I don’t *want* to know what you were doing,” Ron said, putting his hands in front of him in surrender. “But honestly, Potter, if you’re going to shag my sister in my living room, you ought to let my parents know first.”

“What?” Ginny shrieked. “Honestly, Ron, what are you talking about?”

“Nothing. Just kidding,” Ron said, but he was looking at Harry very oddly, as though he had just noticed something that he didn’t wish to have seen.

~*~

The next day, everything was back to normal. Ron and Hermione stubbornly refused to talk to each other about Krum, instead asking each other every so often “so, isn’t the weather lovely today?” Finally, Harry got so fed up he decided to leave.

“Yes, it is a beautiful day, isn’t it,” he declared. “As a matter of fact, I’m going outside. What do you say to that, Ron, Hermione, Ginny?”

“I have to finish my Potions essay,” Hermione said grimly. Ron nodded. “I was going to draw Snape on my walls. I’ll be out later.”

“I’ll go with you,” Ginny said brightly. “D’you want to take a walk in the woods?”

So Harry and Ginny ended up walking through the woods together, Ginny talking brightly to Harry, Harry gripping his Firebolt in his left hand and his box of sugar quills and his Quidditch game in his right.

“There’s a clearing through here, if you want to practice some Quidditch,” Ginny told him. “Can I try out your Firebolt too? I’ve never really played Quidditch before; my brothers always treated me like I was too fragile.”

Harry smiled at her. “Sounds good. How bout this – I’ll fly around a couple of times, than we can take a go together, and then you can go on your own. If you’ve never really flown before, I don’t think you should go on a Firebolt alone the first time. It’s quite fast.”

He took off, doing quick circles around the clearing, then doing loop-the-loops, flips, and corkscrews, just to impress Ginny. He rather liked showing off for her, even though he wasn’t demonstrative by nature. He ended his show with a dramatic Wronski Feint, then pulled himself up at the last minute and landed on the ground.

“Excellent!” Ginny cried, applauding. “Can I have a go? Please?” She looked so hopeful that he couldn’t resist showing off a bit more. He got back on his broom and zoomed straight toward her. She screamed, but he reached out at the last minute and caught her, picked her up lightly, and set her in front of him.

“Harold James Potter! You nearly gave me a heart attack!” she accused. “Can we go?”

He wrapped his arms protectively around her abdomen. Hold on tight to the front,” he instructed. Then he kicked up off the ground.

Ginny’s bright red hair was whipping in his face in such a way that he could barely see. He guided the broom around in circles, guiltily enjoying the feeling of her silken hair on his face and his arms around her. She felt good in his arms.

Finally Harry realized that if he didn’t pay more attention to the broom and less to Ginny, he would crash into the trees. Tilting his head to the side so that he had an unobstructed view, besides a few wayward strands of flaming hair, he compelled his Firebolt to go in swifter and swifter circles until he felt slightly dizzy. Then he looped several times, causing Ginny to shriek, did a few corkscrews, went up high in the air and pulled her into a final Wronski feint. She screamed as the ground loomed closer, so close it seemed Harry wasn’t going to be able to pull out in time, but he moved his broom at the last possible moment so that she toppled harmlessly onto the soft grass and he fell on top of her, breathing hard.

“Wow. That was…incredible,” Ginny gasped.

Harry rolled off of her; uncomfortably aware of how her soft body had felt beneath his. “Yeah,” he agreed, his voice a bit deeper than usual. “D’you want to have a go on your own?”

“I don’t think my legs are too steady right now,” she said breathlessly. “Can we do something else and I’ll try later?”

Harry took out his Quidditch board game. “Want to open it?” he asked. “I meant to play with Ron once I got here, but he’s been busy basically the whole last week.”

“Fine. You’ve got it, Potter,” she smiled widely, sitting up. “What are the stakes?”

“Stakes?” he asked, laughing. “That’s just in card games!”

“Nonsense! If we want to have stakes, is anybody going to keep us away?” she laughed. “But be easy on me – you’re the Quidditch captain, and I’ve never played before.” She tossed her glossy mane of red hair back. “So. If I win, you have to tell me… your deepest fear, your most embarrassing moment, your biggest wish, the thing you’re most glad happened, and your darkest desire,” she said, a grin touching the corners of mouth. “Fair?”

“Fair,” Harry agreed, wondering why it had taken him until this summer to get to really know the wonderful person that was Ginny Weasley. “And if I win… you have to eat a sugar quill.”

“That’s not so bad,” she said, confused.

“But I get to enchant it to be whatever flavour I want, and whatever colour. And you have to tell me the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.”

“Fair enough. I’m the red team!” she said, grabbing her wand.

The game was fast and vicious. Ginny, despite having never played Quidditch herself, had amazing reflexes, and her players zoomed through the air, making terrific catches and goals. Harry, though, was the more experienced player, and with time he got a very significant lead – 200 to 50.

His Chaser was zooming around her goals, trying to get a shot by the keeper, when Ginny flicked her wand spastically. Her Seeker came flying to the goalposts. The tiny figure lifted its hand, holding the Golden Snitch.

“We tied,” Ginny said, her eyes sparkling.

“I completely forgot about the Snitch!” Harry exclaimed, hitting himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand. “So, now do we both have to complete our wagers, or neither?”

Ginny looked at him seriously. “Which do you want?”

“Truthfully? Neither. But it’ll probably be fairer if we do both.”

“Sounds good to me – you first, Harry. After all, I finished the game,” she smirked.

Harry chewed thoughtfully on a sugar quill. “My deepest fear, my most embarrassing moment, my darkest desire, what I’m most glad happened, and my biggest wish. I guess my deepest fear is…” his voice trailed off.

Ginny rolled onto her stomach and propped herself up on her elbows, gazing at him intently. “You don’t need to do this, you know,” she told him.

“Probably good for me anyway,” he said with false lightness. “I guess my deepest fear is that my friends… you, Ron, Hermione, even people I’m not as close with…will get hurt because Voldemort is after me. I wouldn’t ever want that to happen. My most embarrassing moment was probably when the Dementor caused me to fall off my broom in third year and lose the match… I know it’s not that bad, but I felt so stupid for overreacting, and for losing the game.”

A small hand reached out and sought his. Ginny’s hand was soft and warm, and its grip was firm. “I was frightened too. Remember on the train?” she inquired softly.

“Yes, but not as bad me. Anyway, my darkest desire… promise you won’t tell anyone?” he beseeched her.

“I promise.”

“My darkest desire is probably that I died instead of Cedric during the Third Task.”

Ginny gave a muffled scream. “Never, ever think that, Harry,” she begged. “Promise me you’ll never think that again.”

He squeezed her hand briefly. “I won’t. I promise. Anyway, the thing I’m most glad happened…actually,” he said with a grin, “the thing I’m most glad happened was that you sent me that box of sugar quills this summer.”

“Why?” she asked breathlessly.

He leaned in closer. “Because it gave me the push I needed to become friends with you. I didn’t know what I was missing out on.”

“Thank you,” Ginny whispered briefly, her eyes downcast, shielding her thoughts from him.

“My biggest wish…actually, you can fulfill my biggest wish right now, Gin.”

“Really?”

“Can I kiss you?” he asked, his eyes looking deeply into hers.

Ginny nodded, unable to speak. Harry let go of her hand and took her in his arms. Then he bent his head down and their lips met.

The kiss was gentle, tentative, and sweet. Harry had never tasted anything as sweet as Ginny’s breath – she tasted like sugar quills and strawberries. Finally, after a long moment, he let go.

“It’s your turn,” he told her.

“What?” Ginny asked, distracted, her eyes bright and skin flushed. Harry had never seen her look this beautiful. “I think the dumbest thing I’ve ever done was not send you a box of sugar quills earlier,” she told him. What flavor do you want me to eat?”

Harry pulled out a regular one. “This’ll do,” he said, offering it to her. Ginny began to lick the feathery end. Harry took the other end of the quill in his mouth.

Ginny’s eyes widened. They sucked on the quill, and it dissolved into nothing in their mouths until their lips met once more. This time, Harry locked his arm around her and deepened the kiss. It felt as though molten fire was pouring through him. Liquid fire – like her hair.

“Happy Birthday, Harry,” Ginny whispered against his lips when he broke off. Then, her sense of mischief coming back, she asked, “D’you want to do that again? With a different flavour?”

By the time it was dark and Harry and Ginny returned to the Burrow, arms around each others’ waists, the box of sugar quills was empty.

Author’s Note: Happy 1st Birthday, Sugar Quill! I hope you all enjoyed this story. Please contact me at DonnaGZ@aol.com. If anyone wants to Beta for a longer H/G story, write to me. Once again, enjoy and have a happy new year!

 

 

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