The Sugar Quill
Author: Arabella (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Sine Qua Non  Chapter: Chapter One
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

***

This fanfic requires an explanation at the top of every section because it is written as though I’ve lifted random chapters from the "next book", imagining the logical steps between the chapters without actually bothering to write them out (because, quite frankly, I don’t really feel like writing a book. I just want a little fun, thank you very much, heh heh.) However, since you have no way of reading my mind, I’ve done summaries of these imaginings to take you from chapter to chapter – hopefully without confusion.

So then, that established, let’s imagine for the sake of this fanfic that it’s the end of summer just before fifth year. Harry’s just arrived at the Burrow from the Dursleys’. Hermione has also come to stay, and they’ll be there, all together, for a little over a week...

***

When Harry woke up it was to the cat-calling of Fred and George, who, at a distance outside his window, were having a game of mock-Quidditch in the glen. From the yells he heard below them, he guessed that Hermione and Ron were outside, too and for a moment he was annoyed that they had let him sleep in. He hadn’t passed out the night before; it had only been a bad headache. And though everyone seemed to fear that the headache had been something to do with Voldemort, Harry knew this wasn’t true. His scar hadn’t hurt him at all. The headache had just been his mind’s way of burning off that last horrible day with the Dursleys.

Or had it?

Harry’s nightmare suddenly flashed back upon him with startling clarity and he winced. As scene upon scene washed over him, he felt the old, familiar burn in his scar – slowly mounting, becoming blinding – and he clapped his palm to his head in agony, burrowing backwards into the pillows of his bed and praying the anguish would be short-lived.

Just as suddenly, the pain was cut off. For a moment Harry didn’t know what had happened; he sat dazed with his hand to his head; blinking around him unseeingly. The pain had never stopped like that before – wiped out as quickly and completely as if it had never been there at all. Harry fumbled for his glasses and put them on, staring around Ron’s room for something – he wasn’t quite sure what.

And then he heard it. Singing. Somebody was singing – far off, it sounded, and careless and sweet, a female voice that Harry didn’t know. Not understanding how he knew it, he realized that this was the reason that the burning sensation in his head had stopped. He rubbed two fingers on his scar as if making a connection between the sound of the voice and the sudden cessation of pain, wondering if he was still asleep, perhaps, and dreaming. The singing went on for another moment, and then trailed off...the voice was no longer audible... he shut his eyes, straining to hear it but the moment his eyes closed, he saw again the gruesome, red-eyed, snakelike face of Voldemort – and the pain returned with a vengeance.

In confusion, Harry wondered if he had imagined the voice, if it had been some echo or enchantment, and he wished it would start again as the throbbing in his scar continued to build. A minute later and not a moment too soon, he heard the voice again.

Harry leapt out of bed, his pain eradicated again completely, and went quickly through the door into the hall, toward the faint sound of the singing. Was it a real voice? Where was it coming from? It seemed to be carried up along the stairs. Determinedly he followed the sound, leaving Ron’s room at the top of the Burrow and hastening down the narrow stairway into the hall below. Here the sound was much more distinct, and quite obviously coming from the left. Harry strode toward it doggedly, and found that its source was concealed behind a door at the end of the hall.

He hadn’t been behind this particular door in the Burrow before and it didn’t occur to him to think whose it must be. Silently he nudged it open, praying not disturb anybody’s privacy but desperately wanting to know whose the voice was. The door swung softly ajar. Harry saw the singer.

Ginny Weasley, her back to the door, was tidying up her little room, moving objects here and there and humming to herself as she went about it. Too shocked by this discovery to think properly, Harry found himself conducting an internal test – had he been right in his connection? Was it this humming that had cleared his head so swiftly, after the nightmare? He shut his eyes and brought it back into his mind. There was Wormtail’s wand, raised high – there was the blinding flash of green light – there was the sickening thump of Cedric’s body beside him – there was the cold, familiar laughter of his mortal enemy.... but there was no pain... only a feeling of peace. His scar sat harmlessly on his forehead, as if he didn’t have any scar there at all.

"Harry!"

His eyes flew open and he jerked himself into reality. Ginny was staring at him in horror, her face utterly pink. Harry felt his own cheeks become extremely warm. Suddenly he felt neither pain, nor peace. He felt like an idiot.

"Harry!" Ginny repeated, seeming to choke on the word. "What are you doing in here?"

Harry was at a loss.

"Just – heard you up the stairs is all – wanted to see who it was..." He suddenly found a spot on the doorframe particularly interesting and fixed his eyes away from her, wishing very much that he had never opened the door in the first place.

"Oh..." Ginny’s voice was unreadable. Harry couldn’t tell if she was frightened – her breath seemed unsteady. "Everyone else is outside," she faltered, "I thought I was all by myself." She looked at him quickly. "Sorry if I woke you, or anything."

"Oh, no – you didn’t." There was a long, uncomfortable pause. Harry couldn’t say, really, why it was uncomfortable to be standing there – after all, it was only Ginny – yet he was sure he wanted to get away from her rather quickly. "Er," he attempted, "everyone’s outside then?" He knew very well that they were, but he very much wanted to make an escape.

"Hmmm....?" Ginny returned, thoughtfully. Harry didn’t think she’d heard a word he’d said. He chanced a look at her. She had gone back to staring at him, but she wasn’t blushing anymore – instead, she appeared to be considering him.

"Are they all outside?" he said again. He felt very odd, with her looking at him like that. Presently, though, she seemed to come to some conclusion because she sighed and shook her head slightly.

"Yes. They’re all out playing Quidditch," she said shortly.

"Oh." Harry hesitated.

"Why don’t you go and join them, then?" she suggested after a moment, when he still hadn’t moved.

"Right," he said, awkwardly. "See you."

Harry bolted. He got dressed in five minutes, quit the Burrow for the glen and joined Ron and Hermione as soon as he could, feeling extremely strange.

"Oh, good," called George from above, seeing Harry. "Come on up. Ron, Hermione, you too. We’ll scrimmage."

"But I don’t know how to play," Hermione protested, looking anxious and flattered together.

"Bet you do," said Ron, who had run to grab their broomsticks and returned panting. He threw one at her. "You’ve seen enough matches by now. C’mon up."

Harry was glad of the scrimmage. There was no room in Quidditch for thoughts of Voldemort, or his scar, or that uncomfortable scene between himself and Ginny. Quidditch was perfect freedom from all these things. And playing with this particular crew was especially entertaining.

They made two teams: Hermione, Fred and George against Harry and Ron. The summer before, Charlie had enchanted a couple of balls to act as a Quaffle and Bludgers, but there wasn’t any way to fake a decent Snitch, so they decided to cut the Seeker and just play for goal points. Ron played Keeper and Beater with Harry as Chaser, while on the opposing side Hermione was the Keeper, Fred a Beater, and George their Chaser. It was a highly improbable scrimmage and there was more than one yelp from Hermione as Ron mercilessly hit Bludgers toward her. Eventually, though, she became very good at dodging, and by the end of the match she had managed to keep the Quaffle from passing her twice, which earned her approving grins from all ‘round. When Mrs. Weasley yelled at them to come in and eat lunch they were laughing and famished, and Harry had quite forgotten the morning’s earlier confusion.

It was after lunch, sitting in the front yard with Hermione, while Ron and his brothers de-gnomed Mrs. Weasley’s flowerbeds, that Harry heard the singing again. He glanced at the windows above him and saw a movement in Ginny’s room, but Ginny did not appear to be aware that anyone was listening. She sang as unselfconsciously as she had before.

"How pretty," murmured Hermione. Since she could not possibly be referring to the red, struggling gnome in Ron’s dirt-covered fist, Harry assumed that she too was listening to Ginny sing. He glanced sideways at Hermione, frowning. The way that the pain in his head had come and gone – he wanted to tell somebody what had happened. Somehow, he didn’t think it was a wise idea to talk to Ron about it.

"Hermione?"

"Wait, Harry, I’m trying to listen." So she had meant the singing. Harry pressed on.

"It’s about that. Look – Ginny’s voice – it somehow..." he trailed off. It somehow what? Made his pain go away? Harry recoiled from the sound of that. It healed him? That sounded even worse. "Never mind," he finished lamely.

But Hermione had turned and was facing him, her eyes full of interest. ‘No – what were you going to say, Harry? What about Ginny’s voice?"

The singing above them stopped abruptly, and Harry had the horrible feeling that Ginny could hear them as well as they could hear her.

"Nothing," he muttered, his face suddenly filled with heat again. And before Hermione could urge him any further, he had stalked across the yard and begun flinging gnomes over the hedge with the Weasleys.

***

It took Hermione a week of constant questions, meaningful looks and surprise attacks to wear Harry down. The following Friday at dinner, when she began to involve the rest of the family – "Mrs. Weasley, I heard Ginny singing so nicely the other day; Harry and I were wondering – does it run in the family?" – that he finally gave in. One swift kick under the table was all it took to cut Hermione off and though she pressed her lips together in pain, her eyes were alight in triumph. Harry glared at her. He stole a look at Ginny, but she neither lifted her own eyes from her dinner, nor registered any reaction at all.

After dinner, Hermione volunteered to do the dishes with Harry.

"Oh, I can do it, dear, that’s fine," protested Mrs. Weasley, looking obviously pleased at the offer nonetheless.

"That’s all right, Mrs. Weasley. It was such a lovely supper and Harry and I really want to do it, don’t we Harry?"

"Er –yeah. We really do," said Harry flatly.

Mrs. Weasley beamed at the pair of them. "How nice! Well, you’re both welcome to come and stay whenever you like!" She shot a look at her own children. "You, on the other hand..." she said warningly, raising an eyebrow and trying not to smile.

When Hermione had Harry alone in the kitchen, she grabbed a sponge but made no move toward the dishes. Instead, she folded her arms, pursed her lips and stared at him. "Well?"

"All right, Hermione." He sighed, disgusted that he’d ever mentioned anything. "Look, it’s just this. I had one of my – you know, my bad nightmares, Voldemort and all that – and I got that pain in my scar. But when I woke up and heard Ginny singing, it stopped." He felt himself going red again, and wished he could retrieve the words as soon as they were out. He didn’t know why it bothered him so much that these were the facts of the matter, but it did bother him, and quite a lot. However, to his great relief, it didn’t seem Hermione would give him any trouble on the subject.

"What, your scar stopped hurting?" She looked suddenly businesslike and worried.

"Well, yeah," he continued, feeling validated by her concern. "The pain just... left. Really fast. It’s never done that before."

"And you’re sure it’s because of Ginny’s singing?" Hermione’s voice was still quite clinical, but Harry could’ve sworn he saw something like girlish delight flash across her serious demeanor. He gritted his teeth.

"I’m sure," he answered.

Hermione sighed, a little too happily, Harry thought, as she turned back to the sink and started to soak the pans. "I wish I could use a Scouring Charm," she muttered. Then she peered back at Harry keenly. "So, Ginny’s voice....that’s really... interesting...." She didn’t need to say anything else. Harry knew what she was getting at.

"Look," he retorted, annoyed, "it’s nothing like that!"

Behind them, someone snorted derisively. "Hope not!" It was Ron. Harry felt himself go from red to white. "What’s that you say then, Harry? About my little sister’s voice?" His voice was dangerously light. Harry gulped and shrugged, trying to seem offhand, but feeling as though he was suddenly skating on very thin ice.

"I dunno – it was just weird. It was probably nothing," he said defensively. Ron eyed him narrowly, but didn’t respond.

"It is too something!" Hermione said hotly, turning back from the sink and dripping sudsy water at her feet. "Harry, if Ginny’s voice can get between your scar and You-Know-Who, that’s a very important thing to know about! We should test it and make sure!"

"Test it?" Ron’s voice dripped with sarcasm and he snorted again. "That’s rich. But yeah, all right, we’ll see about this. Oi! Ginny!" he hollered suddenly, his eyes still on Harry, challenging him.

"What is it?" she called back from up the stairs.

"C’mere – we’re doing an experiment. Harry wants to find – "

"Wait, never mind, I found it!" cried Harry hastily. What was Ron on about? "You don’t have to come down!"

There was a silence from upstairs and then, "Okay. Goodnight, Ron, Hermione – goodnight, Harry."

"Goodnight," they called back all together. There was a light sound of footsteps, a door closing, and then it was safe to continue.

"What’s your problem?" Harry hissed. But Ron ignored him.

"If it’s just nothing," he demanded in a low voice, "then why’d you tell Hermione and not me?"

Harry answered honestly. "Because I knew you’d take it like that," he said, hoping it would be enough. The two looked hard at each other for a moment, and then Ron seemed to be satisfied because he took his eyes off Harry and frowned at Hermione instead.

"You reckon anybody’s singing could do it?" he asked her. She pondered this for a moment, tilting her head to one side.

"Maybe...." she answered slowly. "We’d have to test, though, to really know. Harry, next time your scar gives a twinge, tell us, and we’ll sing for you and see what happens."

"You, sing?" Ron snickered. "If we test that, it’ll kill him."

Harry bit back a laugh, suddenly feeling much more normal about everything as Hermione gave Ron her usual huff and put her hands on her hips, accidentally soaking herself with the sponge. "And you sing like a bird, I suppose?" she retorted tartly. "I’m just trying to help, there isn’t any need for you to be rude!"

Ron merely grinned, gesturing at the now large-ish puddle that Hermione had let drip to the floor. "You’re making a terrible mess," he pointed out, raising his eyebrows roguishly at her as he backed toward the door. "Get back to those dishes, why don’t you–"

And Harry laughed outright as Ron fled, narrowly escaping being hit by a very soapy sponge.

 

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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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