Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. Except for the ones in the book, and those are so generalized they could belong to anyone. I consider them citizens of the world.
This story would not have been readable without the help of my fabby beta, Aibhinn.
Harry Potter was feeling better than he had in months. He was at the Burrow, his second favorite place in the world, and he had just spent several hours playing Quidditch with his favorite friends, excluding Hermione (not because she wasn't one of his favorite friends, but because she wasn't there). He was delightfully tired enough to keep his mind off all the things that had been bugging him: Voldemort, Sirius's death, that damn prophecy...
But none of these things were on Harry's mind; he and Ron, Fred, George, Bill, and Ginny were heading back indoors on a sunny summer Saturday afternoon. He was content. Content enough to forget all his worries, without really thinking about his worries at all.
Except one, whispered a voice in Harry's head.
Stop it, Harry firmly told the voice.
"How about a game of Exploding Snap?" asked Ron. Fred, George, and Bill all begged off, saying they needed to work.
Ginny, who had been rather quiet all afternoon, announced "I'm not feeling too well, I think I'll go lie down a bit."
"Are you ok?" asked Harry, concern swelling in him.
"I'll be fine," Ginny told him, giving him a small smile. Harry's knees weakened.
Ginny disappeared up the stairs after her brothers, leaving Ron and Harry alone in the living room.
"Chess?" asked Ron. Harry was about to agree, figuring that after Ron had beat him he could get away with checking on Ginny, when Mrs. Weasley appeared in the room.
"Ron, I need you to clean out the attic," she said rather absentmindedly, looking around the living room, before asking sharply, "Where's Ginny?"
"She went upstairs to lie down. She said she wasn't feeling well," Harry answered.
"Oh, the poor dear," Mrs. Weasley clucked. "Just hold on a minute, Harry, while I make some tea for her, then will you take it up for me?"
"Sure!" said Harry, trying hard not to sound too excited by the prospect, as Ron climbed up to the attic.
Ginny was sitting up in her bed, giggling to herself over a paperback. She looked up at Harry and immediately set the novel on her bed, face down. "Oh, hi, Harry."
"Good book?" he asked. "Your mum sent this up."
"Oh, good," said Ginny, swallowing the tea in practically one gulp.
Harry picked up the book; on the cover was a voluptuous woman with long, wind-tousled hair being ravished by a man in what looked like a pirate's costume. The title read: A Witch's Fantasy. Harry raised his eyebrows. "This isn't Hogwarts required reading," he teased her. Are you sure your mother would approve?"
Ginny rolled her eyes, but her cheeks were a bit flushed. Was she blushing? "Probably not; Fleur gave it to me."
Harry examined the cover again. It certainly looked like a steamy book.
Ginny's face was a noticeably darker shade of red. Yes, she definitely was blushing. Harry decided it was a sight he had missed.
"This is funny?" he asked her, recalling her giggles.
"Well, I don't think it's supposed to be. It's just so... cheesy!"
Ginny patted the side of her bed companionably and took the book from Harry. He sat down and watched her leaf through it.
"It's about this witch who finds out she's adopted and goes on a search for her real parents. But the only guy who can help her is her childhood enemy, whom she hates because he once stole her Yorkshire pudding, and they've been fighting ever since for no real reason, kind of like Ron and Hermione. So they go to Germany together in the search, and they're bickering the whole time but it's really because of repressed sexual tension, kind of like Ron and Hermione, and then they get locked in this enchanted castle and—" Ginny took a long breath. "It gets pretty complicated from there."
Harry laughed, and Ginny grinned back at him.
"I'm at the part where they're trying to scrounge up dinner on their first night in the castle—you see, they just found out they have to break this curse before they can escape—but I can't decide if they're going to—well, get together tonight, or kill each other and come back as ghosts to finish the story off."
She turned a few pages and began to read again. Harry scooted closer so he could read over her shoulder, but he was still straining his neck a little. Ginny moved so he could make himself more comfortable. Harry kicked his shoes off and sat fully on her bed, leaning against the pillows. He glanced at her, a little nervous, but she didn't seem to mind; she nudged closer, cuddling against him, sharing the book.
"I hate you, Jon! I hate you so much! I wish I had never laid eyes on you! I hope you die a million deaths and rot in the inner circle of hell!" Anger coursed through her as steadily as the river coursed through the forest outside the castle's gate, that damn gate that had trapped her with her worst enemy, her greatest fear. Susan felt the tears blurring her vision; she welcomed it. A chance for her senses to become as befuddled as her emotions. She welcomed it, as she welcomed the fantasies that came nightly of Jon falling off a cliff. It was the other fantasies that she did not care for.
Harry let out a snort of laughter and Ginny burst into a fit of giggles.
"You're right, it is cheesy," he said.
"Just wait," said Ginny. "It gets a lot worse."
Jon stared at the beautiful woman in front of him, hoping against hope that she would continue to yell. He could handle the yelling, it made it easier to yell back, to pretend he didn't care. To pretend that he hated her, even. When in fact the opposite was true. He loved her. Loved her so much he needed her. As surely as he needed air to breathe, he needed Susan. The tears were what he couldn't handle; they made him want to gather her up in his arms, and promise her that everything would be ok, and that he would never let anyone hurt her again. That he would never hurt her. The tears made him want to show her how much he loved her, starting by kissing her firmly on her mouth, tangling his hands in that rough, windblown, messy hair, hair that was always messy, just calling for him to mess it up further—
Fred poked his head into Ginny's room just as Harry and Ginny burst out laughing. "You kids having fun?" he asked, grinning suggestively. Harry didn't know whether to be alarmed the implications of Fred's grin, or relieved he had not been on the receiving end of a more aggressive reaction. Ginny scowled at him, but before she could begin an argument, Fred said quickly, "I'll just leave you to it, then, shall I?" and shut the door firmly.
It would be a shame, Harry thought to himself, to ruin his comfortable position just to get up and open the door—which suddenly seemed very far away—again. Surely it wasn't that important to have the door open, was it? If someone needed them, they could always come and knock, couldn't they?
Fortunately, Ginny seemed to be thinking along the same lines, and she had already turned back to the book.
"No, I don't!" Susan stopped her tirade with such a force it physically startled Jon. He whirled around to look at her, but she had turned as suddenly as he; she was now facing the window, and he could see the tears rolling down her face reflected in the moonlight. "I love you," she whispered.
At first Jon thought he had imagined it, but every moment that passed only made it more real. He could feel the love radiating from her- he only hoped she could feel the same from him. He slowly approached her, laying his hands on her shoulders. She stiffened, then relaxed. "I love you too, Susan."
Susan turned, into his arms. She looked up at Jon, her eyes gazing into his, her warm pools of brown melting into his passionate blue, her mouth slightly open. Jon took that as an invitation, and suddenly there were no more words. He focused his attention on her—only her. The things he had been longing to do to her since the day he first met her. Those fantasies were about to become a reality, and his throbbing member—
It had suddenly become impossible to read the book, it was shaking so hard between Harry and Ginny's fits of laughter.
"Harry," breathed Ginny, in between snickers, "I don't think I can read this with you here!"
"But I want to know what happens!" Harry protested weakly. He was snuggled against Ginny, in her bed, reading a slightly erotic story with her—it was better than any was he had possibly imagined spending his afternoon.
Stop it, he told himself.
Ginny sneaked a peak at the next page. "Oh, well," she said eventually. "It's not too explicit." She gave him a charming smile, making him glad he was not standing up.
After the climatic love scene, all of the nature metaphors and similes and cheesy phrases seemed to disappear. Harry found himself actually caring about whether or not the hero and heroine would actually come together in the end, against all odds.
"This is it," said Susan as she and Jon faced the open castle gate, arm in arm. "To break the curse, all we had to do was realize our love for one another, and accept each other as we are. I love you so much, Jon," she said with tears in her eyes.
"I love you too. And I want the world to know. Susan, will you marry me?"
She felt the happiness flood through her; she couldn't contain it, it was too much. "Yes!" she cried, throwing her arms around him and enveloping him in a passionate kiss.
"When we find your parents—" began Jon, after they broke apart.
"No," Susan interrupted him. "I've done what I needed to do. I wanted to find where I belong, and I've found it. I belong with you. And my family is waiting at home for me. Let's begin our life together. With you by my side, I can do anything."
And with that, they smiled at each other, then began the walk out the castle gate, down the road, and to the rest of their lives.
"Well, that was a good read," said Ginny, closing the book with a contented sigh. "I'm feeling loads better." She turned to look at Harry.
They both seemed to realize at the same time how close their faces were. The fact that they were practically lying down together on Ginny's bed, alone, in her room, with the door shut, was suddenly very apparent to Harry. Without him noticing they had shifted positions while they were reading. Harry had his arms around her; her head, which moments earlier had been resting on his chest, was now leaning slightly against his shoulder while she gazed at him.
Stop it, said a voice in Harry's head. He firmly told the voice to shut up. They stared at each other for a long moment.
Deciding he couldn't let an opportunity like this just pass him by, he reached up a hand to gently cup her cheek. "You know—" His voice was suddenly heavy. "Your eyes are like pools of brown."
"And your hair," Ginny responded, equally as heavy, "is just calling for me to mess it up further."
She reached up, her hands were in his hair, and before Harry really knew what was happening their lips had met. Ginny deepened the kiss almost immediately. His arms were around her, hands running up and down her back and burying themselves in her hair. She moaned into his mouth as he pulled her closer to him, shifting slightly to get more comfortable. Then she was lying on top of him.
He brushed the hair from her face, then lightly ran his hands along her back and sides. His hands became immobile when he felt her fingers tracing the muscles of his shoulders and arms. He couldn't get enough of her mouth.
Her lips broke away from his, but all thoughts of protest disappeared when she began kissing his chin, jaw, and throat. He responded by attacking her ear and the side of her neck. He was delighted when he felt her shiver and their mouths found each other again.
Suddenly Mrs. Weasley's voice through the door called them out of their passionate embrace. They broke apart and sat up, panting heavily and staring at each other.
"Coming," Ginny called out, but her eyes never left Harry's. Then they were kissing again.
"Dinner," Ginny moaned, as they broke feverishly apart.
"Yeah," Harry agreed, before he put his mouth on hers again. Clinging together, they pulled themselves up from the bed and blindly made their way to the door, still kissing.
Ginny giggled as she broke away from him. "You look a mess," she said, attempting to flatten his hair.
"As do you," he said, combing his fingers through hers. Then her back was against the wall, Harry was pressed against her, and Ginny's hair was messy again.
Harry freely explored her mouth with his tongue, she felt soo good—
With a good deal of effort he pulled himself back. It would not do to go down to dinner aroused.
Ginny grinned at him. He grinned back. As they made their way to the kitchen, Harry found himself very much looking forward to dessert.