A/N This story contains slash, as in male/male romance. Ron not only proposes the experiment, he is also a participant. There is touching involved. If the thought of this makes you uncomfortable, do not continue. You have been warned.
Also, this story should be considered AU not only for Harry's sexuality, but also for the resurrection of a friend.The Experiment
Harry Potter opened his eyes and looked up at the canopy of green above him. Laying under the shady trees and listening to the water rushing by in the nearby brook, it was almost possible to forget all that had happened to him in the last few years. It was quite peaceful – almost cool, despite it being a hot summer's day.
They had been lounging at The Burrow, resigned to the lethargy the oppressive heat had brought them, when Hermione had once again suggested homework to battle the torpor. Hearing the suggestion for the fourth time had been somewhat motivational in a way that Hermione had probably not anticipated – when she'd gone upstairs to retrieve a book she'd forgotten, they'd run out the kitchen door, through the garden, and hadn't looked back. They'd stumbled upon this peaceful wooded copse and decided to hide in the shade of the trees.
Harry suspected that for Ron, the hiding had a lot more to do with the halter-top that Hermione was wearing than the actual homework she was forcing onto them.
He turned to look at Ron, who was lying next to him in the grass, and was astonished at the sight that greeted him. Not sure if Ron had dozed off, or if he was aware of his current state, Harry dared to call it to his attention. "Oy, Ron! You're gonna hurt someone with that thing."
"What?" Ron replied somewhat sleepily.
"Your saluting soldier, mate. It's lethal." Harry snickered rudely.
Ron's ears burned bright red. He groaned, "I'm sorry! I can't help it." Then he muttered, "Runs round half starkers and then expects a bloke to do homework."
His suspicions confirmed, Harry snickered again. "Would you like me to leave you two alone, then?"
Ron looked sheepish but he shook his head. "Nah. Just give me minute."
Harry didn't chance another look in Ron's direction until he heard a frustrated sigh and what may have been 'Snape' and the word 'underwear.' The soldier, though, was steadfast in his duty.
Ron said, "Do you ever wonder if it feels different if someone else is touching it?"
Harry played dumb with a halfhearted "Hmmm?"
The truth was that he had wondered, and Ron's meaning was no mystery. He knew firsthand the traitorous effect of adolescent hormones, and knew perfectly well how to relieve it. You don't live the better part of the year with four other boys and not witness or at least hear some action. It seemed altogether different to talk about it, though. Dean and Seamus were not only unashamed to speak of it; they clearly had no trouble performing the act at any given time whether alone or not. It was just taking care of business to them. Maybe Harry was shy, but it just made him uncomfortable.
Ron continued, "I mean, I guess it would have to be different – but … I just wonder if maybe it's even better, yeah?"
Harry replied, "Er, I guess."
Having no experience in such matters and no access to any media that may have illustrated such a thing, he had no reason to anticipate what Ron was about to propose – yet he felt it looming over his head just before Ron dropped it on him. He actually felt himself shiver slightly, though he couldn't determine if it was in anticipation or fear.
"Do you reckon that we could … you know … try it?" Ron motioned with his hand then rushed on – "No one would ever have to know and then we would know if it was … erm… better. Just to see – like an experiment."
They looked at each other, their faces coloured in competing shades of red. Harry was trapped somewhere between utter mortification and blatant curiosity. So much of the latter, in fact, that he couldn't even fall back on his strategy of acting dumb.
Harry made a mental note – it seemed curiosity and hormones trumped mortification.
"I can't believe that I'm agreeing to this." Harry was astonished at the words, since he hadn't meant to say them aloud.
Ron, seeming to not quite believe his ears, said, "Really? Are you sure?"
"Just – let's not talk about it, all right?" Harry's heartbeat started to quicken in anticipation, though he was still feeling strange about agreeing to such a thing.
They sat there awkwardly for several minutes, not entirely certain how to proceed now that the decision had been made.
Ron finally suggested, "Maybe if we lay back then we won't actually have to see each other, just feel, yeah?"
They both lay back on the grass again. Harry realized immediately that it wouldn't work like that and said, "No good, mate. I can't reach from here."
Ron argued, "Why not? I can." Then he demonstrated by moving his hand toward Harry's shorts.
Harry smacked his hand away and Ron actually looked somewhat hurt. "Sorry, reflex."
Ron didn't look convinced, so Harry continued to try to explain. "Look, a bloke goes for your bits, you go on the defensive. Reflex. And it's not my fault you've got monkey arms. I can't reach from this angle. Do you want to do this or not? Because I'm starting to have trouble remembering why I agreed to it."
That last statement was a lie. He'd decided to go along with it because his shorts were getting tighter by the moment. Whether it was the illicit, dangerous feel to the situation, the idea of a potentially good wank, or simply the traitorous and ever-active hormones, he didn't know, but his body was eager enough that he was beyond questioning it.
Ron recovered. "Okay, okay. We'll sit then, fine…" He cleared his throat. "Good."
They sat side by side, not quite touching, both staring at the bubbling water in front of them. Ron kept giggling nervously and Harry was very near to calling the whole thing off – when Ron took matters into his own hands – literally – by releasing the stalwart soldier from the confinement of his shorts. Harry snapped his eyes forward again and did the same – still not believing that this was happening.
Ron said, "Okay, on the count of three. One – Two – Three – " and they grabbed each other somewhat tentatively. Neither moved their hands, but even the hesitant touch of someone else had increased the tension tenfold.
Taking the lead once again, Ron started moving his hand slowly up and down. His actions sent Harry into such a state of euphoria that he nearly forgot to reciprocate. But he quickly recovered, taking Ron's lead and mimicking his actions, which were increasing into a frenzy of pumping fists and bumping forearms.
All thought was gone; the only thing that mattered was the feel of it – until they reached an explosive conclusion that left them both dizzy and breathless, each having to lay back on the soft grass in daze.
Harry worked to get his breathing under control. The warm breeze actually felt cool on his exposed, super-heated skin.
Ron started laughing. "Yeah, definitely different." Then he was howling, and the laughter was contagious. Harry joined him, celebrating the ridiculousness of what they'd just done with a laughing fit of his own.
Once they'd collected themselves enough to notice that they were still exposed and sticky from their 'experiment,' they each crawled toward the brook to clean up – stifling errant giggles that wouldn't completely abate.
The water felt cool, clean, and refreshing as Harry splashed himself without regard to his clothing. He couldn't help but wonder why they hadn't just splashed in the brook instead of becoming overcome by the heat – clearly it had affected their mental states. Yes, that's what it had been, heat stroke or something. He'd just about convinced himself of this when Ron stopped snickering abruptly and asked a question that changed everything.
"Harry, you don't reckon this means we're, erm, gay – do you?"
Harry's mind exploded with possible answers, all quickly discarded. He eventually managed to convince Ron that he wasn't gay by asking a simple question: "Ron, what were you thinking of when we were … you know?"
Ron blushed to the tips of his ears, and Harry thought it somewhat absurd that after they'd shared something so – so intimate, Ron still had trouble owning up to his feelings for Hermione. Ron had finally answered in a whisper, "I was thinking of Hermione – er, pretending it was her."
Harry looked at his friend, who'd somehow managed to achieve an even deeper shade of red, and said, "There you are, then. Ron, just go tell her." Ron looked horrified, and Harry suppressed the urge to smack him in the forehead.
"Not about this, you git – about your feelings for her. I know she feels the same."
And he did. Harry had stayed behind, lying prone in the grass again, contemplating what it all meant.
That had been three days ago. Ron and Hermione were now not only a couple, but apparently joined at the hip.
This actually suited Harry just fine, as he was sequestering himself and in his estimation – slowly sinking into madness. Ron's question was still with him, rolling around in his head, morphing into "Reckon you're gay? Reckon you're gay? Reckon you're gay?" and bouncing off the inside of his skull like a pin-ball.
There was no easy denial for him, as there had been for Ron. As much as he wanted to, he could not deny the disappointment he'd felt when Ron had so easily known his answer.
In all honesty, Harry didn't know what he wanted. What he did know was that the 'experiment' had been the single most exciting and pleasurable thing he'd ever experienced; though it had been missing…something – something unknown. He knew that he had most definitely not been thinking about Hermione, or Ginny, or bloody Cho Chang, or any other girl for that matter. He'd been thinking only of the pleasure, the ecstasy and the rightness of a Quidditch-roughened hand on his most sensitive part.
He also knew that he wanted to do it again. And more.
What did it mean to be gay and how did one know if they were? Mrs. Next Door, on Privet Drive, had a son who was gay. Rupert seemed a nice enough fellow, and he was one of the few people in the neighborhood who did not treat Harry like a criminal. Uncle Vernon and Dudley had gone on endlessly about the 'nancy boy,' the 'poof' next door – and their maligning of anything was usually a ringing endorsement for Harry. But Harry, quite simply, did not want to be gay – for no other reason than it would be just one more thing that set him apart – one more thing that made him different from everyone else.
The endless questioning was driving him mad and he wanted desperately to talk to someone about it. He wished that he knew someone who would understand. He thought about everyone he knew and immediately ruled out the women. He did not want to talk about this with a girl, though Hermione might be a likely backup candidate… providing he couldn't come up with anyone else and he managed to pry her away – very far away – from Ron to do it.
Professor Dumbledore? Harry had never seen him with a woman, but the man was over a century in age and he couldn't imagine confiding this to him. Mr. Weasley? He was definitely not gay, though certainly would be understanding… but Harry couldn't imagine talking to him about it either. He snorted at his next thought – Snape! Oh, that was rich – and enormously repulsive – but if anyone at Hogwarts were gay, he'd be the most likely candidate. Actually, that might explain some things regarding his animosity for Harry's father as well…but that thought was slightly nauseating and not something Harry wanted to explore.
Suddenly, it occurred to him – Sirius and Remus.
Flashes of little, seemingly insignificant things – pats of comfort, whispered words, abrupt conversation endings, and secret smiles – were unfolding before Harry. It was like finding out about the Wizarding world – once he'd known of its existence, he saw it everywhere and couldn't believe he'd missed it in the first place.
After experiencing a moment of hurt that they'd not told him about their relationship, he ran heedlessly down the stairs from Ron's attic bedroom, where he'd been hiding the day away.
He hit the landing on the floor below and ran smack into a shirtless George Weasley. He knew it was George only because he'd been staying at the Burrow instead of the flat over their shop since Monday evening. Fred and Angelina had stepped up their romance, and George was giving them their space.
"Alright, Harry?" Harry looked George in the eye and backed up a step.
In that unguarded moment, George's eyes held a look of – well, recognition was the only word Harry could come up with – and he assumed his own eyes held the same look. Surely Harry did recognize something in George that he'd never noticed before. Whoa.
George tossed him a wide lopsided grin that had Harry rooted to the spot, momentarily forgetting his urgency of just seconds before. Wow. He felt downright giddy.
He came back to himself and said, "I've got to – er, go." He brushed past George but kept speaking, still facing him as he backed away. "I'll be back, erm, in a bit." He smiled foolishly, nearly missing the step, and turned on his heel to continue his heedless run to the kitchen.
"Mrs. Weasley?" He found her at the sink, filling the teapot.
"Yes, Harry, what is it?" She looked concerned when she turned around. "Are you not feeling well, dear? You're all flushed."
"I'm okay, I'm just – That is, can I borrow some Floo Powder? I need to go see Sirius."
She looked sceptical about his health but responded kindly. "Well, I don't see why not – That connection is secure enough." Reaching up to retrieve the little pot from the mantelpiece, she offered some of the powder to Harry. "Just say 'Phoenix Fire," she instructed. "That's how it's registered."
Harry arrived in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place in his customary Floo-traveling fashion – flat on his backside. He got up, brushing the soot from his clothes, and looked around. The kitchen was deserted, so he went up the stairs and called out, "Sirius? Remus? Anyone home?"
He found them in the study, sharing a quiet moment, Sirius' long black hair an interesting contrast to Remus' tawny coloring. Apparently they hadn't heard him and Harry hesitated in the doorway.
They were standing there, talking quietly about something that Harry could not hear, when Moony reached up and brushed a lock of Sirius' dark hair from his face. The gesture was innocent and at the same time intimate. Harry felt oddly exhilarated by it, and also found it to be extremely comforting. He wondered again at his cluelessness about them, especially thinking back to last month. Remus had been beside himself after that near miss at the Ministry of Magic. Harry shuddered; if Sirius hadn't had his wits about him enough to Disapparate at just the right moment, he'd have been lost forever behind the veil.
He knocked softly. "Erm, Sirius? Moony? I'm sorry to bother you…"
He'd startled them, and they jumped apart. Sirius recovered first and looked thrilled at the unexpected visit from his godson. "Harry! What brings you to our humble abode?"
Remus added, "Is something wrong?"
Harry blushed, but plunged in determinedly. "No, not really…I mean – not wrong, but … hmmm. I needed to talk to you – er, about being…gay."
Sirius and Remus exchanged a look of surprise – then Sirius let out a whoop of excitement. "Did you hear that, Moony? Our boy is coming out! He's gotten his letter!" He laughed his bark-like laugh.
Before either of the other two could object, Sirius was marching Harry back down to the kitchen. "The occasion calls for Firewhisky, of course, but Molly would have my head if I sent you back to her pissed as a newt. Tea it is, then, and – Moony, where are the biscuits I made this morning?"
As Sirius rummaged around the kitchen, gathering the tea and all its trimmings, Remus looked kindly at Harry as he took a seat at the long wooden table. "What is it you wanted to know, Harry?"
"Don't you see, Moony? He's in love!" Sirius continued his preparations; unaware of the exasperated looks he was getting from both Harry and Remus. "Who is it? Is it Ron? I'll wager it's Ron."
Sirius set the tray down on the table and Remus put a gentle hand on his arm. "Don't, love – you're scaring the boy."
Remus addressed Harry. "Are you in love, Harry?"
"No, I just… no. Er, what did you mean, 'he's gotten his letter'?" Harry looked in confusion to Remus, who seemed to be the more rational of the two at that moment.
"Don't pay him any attention, Harry. That's just something he says when someone realizes they're queer, especially when others have suspected it long before they did. Basically, it means that they've gotten the letter welcoming them to the 'family.'"
Remus just looked indulgently at Sirius, who was munching on the biscuits he'd brought to the table.
Harry went from confused to astonished. "You could tell? That must have been what happened with George, then."
Sirius interjected loudly. "Ah-ha! I knew it was a Weasley!"
Remus shot him a look and said sardonically, "I hardly think that qualifies you as a Seer, Padfoot – he's seen nothing but Weasleys for half the month."
Sirius feigned an insulted look. "You wound me, Moony. Why do you insist on being such a spoilsport?" He directed his attention back to Harry. "George, eh? Nice enough boy, certainly has more than a bit of the Marauder in him – kind of muscle-y for you, though, don't you think? I always pictured you with someone more – artistic and less – meaty."
This talk was going nothing like Harry had expected, but he found Sirius' enthusiasm and easy acceptance very warming. He laughed out loud at Sirius' assessment of George.
Remus seemed to be looking to a higher power for patience. "Harry, why don't you tell us what led up to your visit today?"
Harry launched into an explanation of the events of the last few days. He employed the fewest words possible to explain the 'experiment' to them, with much embarrassment, and then ended with the thing that had happened in the hall with George.
"I guess I'm just confused… I mean, I thought I fancied Cho for almost two years. How can that be true and then that thing happen with George?" Harry blushed at the memory. "He wasn't wearing a shirt and I sort of ran right into him… It was like he looked at me different – and I was seeing him differently too…"
Surprisingly, it was Sirius who answered. "Harry, these things aren't really cut and dry. Some blokes know right out of the womb that they only like boys; some realize it later in life. There's no right or wrong way about it – as long as you're true to yourself."
Remus looked somewhat impressed by Sirius' wise words. He added some of his own. "Society tells us at an early age that boys are supposed to be with girls, and perhaps it's that type of pressure, if you will, that made you choose Cho – who is a beautiful girl. Or, far more likely – and don't tell the more…ardent among us that I said this – I happen to believe that there are levels to it. I think it's sort of fluid, really. For some people it's all or nothing, and others may lean more towards one than the other, but still find both attractive. And still others love each equally." He paused. "Did you ever give it a go with her?"
Harry responded sheepishly. "We had a date and she kissed me once. But really, I think it was more exciting when I was fancying her from a distance."
He spent the next hour with Sirius and Remus. Just before he left, he pulled Remus aside while the kitchen clean-up distracted Sirius. Although he'd been caught up in and quite pleased by Sirius' enthusiasm, he'd sensed that Remus was not as thrilled.
"Moony, are you not okay with this? I mean – with me?" He tried to keep the uncertainty out of his voice, but it suddenly became very important to have his approval.
Remus looked concerned. "Oh, Harry, no. Just as Sirius said, you must be true to yourself. I'm just, a little – sad, I guess. It's true that the wizarding world is a bit more tolerant, not having religious prejudices like Muggles, but it's still not always an easy road to take. You have so much on your shoulders, and I would have liked for you to have it a bit easier – at least in one aspect of your life."
"Did you and Sirius have trouble?" The thought made Harry a little nervous, and it occurred to him that he had no idea how long they'd been together. "Why didn't you tell me about you two? How come I had to figure it out for myself?"
"I am sorry about that, Harry. We have been on and off for years… Of course, mostly off, as Sirius was in Azkaban and I thought he was guilty. We've only just – in the last year or so – got back to a really good place together. We've been meaning to tell you, but it never seemed like the right time." He looked truly contrite and Harry just nodded his acceptance of the apology.
Remus continued. "I think perhaps my perspective is a little warped, you shouldn't mind me. Being a gay werewolf makes me something of a societal pariah. Sirius doesn't much care about what other people think – Shocking, I know," he added dryly. "If you think about it, it's absolutely amazing that Sirius and I found our way back to each other at all. Apart from our unconventional sexuality, he's a fugitive and I'm a werewolf. Neither is exactly high on society's list of acceptability. Actually, I don't think we appear on the list at all."
He smiled ruefully at Harry, who felt compelled to do something he'd never done before. He hugged Remus.
"Thank you, Moony. For being honest with me and everything." Remus had been startled at first by the unaccustomed affection, but returned the hug, seeming to be pleased by it.
"Any time, Harry. Any time."
Despite Moony's concerns, Harry felt immensely better when he finally landed in the kitchen at the Burrow – once again on his backside.
Harry spent the next few days again mostly alone, and quietly going mad. This time, however, forces outside of himself were driving him there.
He'd contemplated what he'd discussed with Sirius and Remus and he felt pretty good about it on the whole. He had to be true to himself and he felt certain now what that meant. Despite the fact that he didn't want to be different, there was no escaping the fact that he was.
His current problem, though, was that Ginny and George seemed to be engaged in some sort of competition for his attention and failed to inform him.
Ginny had taken to cornering him alone, which was actually quite easily done with Ron and Hermione so distracted by each other. She would often touch him lightly on the forearm while speaking to him, and look at him as though she were expecting something. When that didn't get the desired response from him, she started wearing somewhat revealing tops and shorts. She would touch her neck or her collarbone while talking to him, and do other things that he was certain were meant to entice him. He found himself blushing at the attention, proving he was not completely immune to her charms, and thought seriously that if he hadn't had the recent revelation about himself; he'd have probably very happily taken her up on what she was offering.
He knew without a doubt that he would also have ended up breaking her heart in the end. Because whatever stirrings Ginny's efforts had created barely registered when held in comparison to the tornado that George was creating in him.
George seemed to be spending an awful lot more time at the Burrow than at his shop. He would leave for a few hours and then unexpectedly turn up again; shooting Harry lopsided smiles with a look in his eyes that could melt a lad's trainers. This somehow seemed to happen whenever Ginny managed to get Harry alone in a room – so inevitably, she would lose Harry's attention to the boy he'd started to consider his rescuer.
George took every opportunity to walk around without his shirt on. Harry likened his muscled physique to those Italian marble statues they had in museums – all alabaster skin and sculptured torso. He was developing quite a whopping crush on the older boy, and found himself walking around in an almost constant state of semi-arousal. His senses seemed to be in tune with George's presence – everything would sharpen whenever they were in the same room. His heart would hammer in his chest, his pulse would quicken, and the butterflies were of monstrous proportions. This felt nothing at all like the crush he'd had on Cho Chang.
Between the two siblings, he was going quite out of his mind. He didn't know how much longer he could take it. That being the case, Mrs. Weasley's recent announcement had filled Harry with trepidation.
"Your father and I are not going to be here for supper. It's only bangers and mash, I'm afraid. There's a warming charm on it, so it's ready whenever you are. I'm not certain when we'll be back, but we are leaving George in charge. Behave – all of you." She raised a hand as Ginny and Ron both loudly and simultaneously protested George being assigned as their minder, while George complained that he had better things to do than mind the "ickle babies."
Harry watched the familial drama with fascination from his seat on the couch. The moment Mrs. Weasley had Disapparated, the demeanors immediately changed. Ginny and Ron shared a sort of fist-over-fist handshake, and they both thanked George for a job well done. Once Ron had resumed his mind-meld with Hermione and Ginny had gone to her room, Harry worked up the nerve to ask George what they were going on about.
He sent Harry one of the heat-filled smiles that left him breathless, and then answered simply. "Well, Mum wouldn't have left without an of-age wizard here, but she would have been suspicious if we were all agreeable to it. Now we have the house to ourselves for the evening." He shrugged his wide shoulders and winked before heading into the kitchen to see about supper.
The meal passed, for the most part, without incident, though it was at best an uncomfortable experience for Harry. Ginny had come to the table wearing a dangerously low-cut shirt, and George without a shirt at all. They were both seated across from him and though he tried to keep his full attention on the plate in front of him, his eyes kept being drawn upward.
He would look up at Ginny and blush; she would smile, and he would look down at his plate, embarrassed rather than enticed. He would look up at George, who would wink and send him that shoe-melting smile, making his stomach flutter and his heart race. It struck him as funny how much alike the two looked. Ginny was a miniature and very feminine form of George. She seemed to become increasingly more disgruntled with each round of this routine – which repeated itself several times before Harry finally regained enough self-control to keep his eyes down.
He felt a touch on his foot and looked up at George, who was sitting directly across from him. George looked him dead in the eye, lifted an uncut banger to his lips, slowly pushed it into his mouth, then just as slowly brought it out again. Harry dropped his fork with a clatter, wanting to look away but completely unable. George did it again, but this time, when he pulled it back out, he grazed it gently with his teeth.
Harry hit his breaking point.
Initially, he'd looked to Hermione to put an end to it, as she was usually the voice of reason and authority, but she was so wrapped up in Ron that she hadn't even noticed that George wasn't wearing a shirt at the table – much less any erotic acts he may be performing on the leftovers.
The urge to flee the scene was strong, but he had to find a way to do it so that no one would see the circus tent that his trousers had become. It became apparent that his only course of action was to just do it quickly and hope for the best. He pushed the chair back and said, "I – er, need some air," then ran out the door to the back garden.
He didn't move quickly enough, it seemed, because once he was clear of the door, he heard Ginny sigh, and hesitated when she started to speak. "All right, George, you win. He's all yours."
George's response was, "Where are you going?"
"I've got to try to fix things with Dean."
Harry didn't wait to hear more. He kept going right on through the garden. He didn't know how far he could go before the wards would stop him, but he kept moving forward until he came upon a low stone wall. He sank to the ground and rested his head on his knees.
His blood was still pumping hot and loud from the show that George had put on, but it was mixed now with some hurt feelings. He'd known, of course, that they'd been competing for his attention, but confirmation of the fact – that it had been a game with him as an unwitting prize – had hurt. A lot.
After a while he heard the crunch of gravel under foot. He felt certain it was George walking along the wall, but looked up anyway. He wanted to be angry with him, but upon seeing him, found it difficult to think, much less maintain anger. George's broad shoulders and sculpted chest eased into well-defined abdominal muscles. His khaki cargo shorts were low-riding enough that Harry could see the cuts his lower abs created at his lean hips. Harry groaned quietly and tried to fight the wave of desire that was trying to muddle his thoughts.
As George drew closer, Harry, trying to keep his tone angry, said, "Come to claim your prize, have you?" The hurt managed to remain, to a small degree.
George looked alternately surprised, then distressed. "Harry, no. It wasn't like that."
"How was it, then?" Harry hated that the hurt was still evident in his voice.
George sat down next to him, and when Harry didn't protest, he stretched his legs out in front of him, crossing them at his ankles. He was close enough that their shoulders were touching, and it was sending little electric shocks coursing through Harry's system. At this rate, Harry thought it was likely he would forgive him without any explanation at all.
"Ginny got it into her head that this was her summer with you. I tried to tell her she wouldn't have any luck, but she wouldn't listen. I'm sorry I didn't consider your feelings on the matter. I just wanted her to find out before she took it too far." George did look truly sorry as he said this. "I had to pull out the big guns, so to speak, because that shirt was dangerously close to 'too far'. I didn't even know my baby sister had the equipment to make a shirt like that work."
Harry had to agree. "Too right. I couldn't look at her." He raised his hands in front of his face as if blocking a too bright light, causing George to laugh. Harry felt warm all over, hearing the deep rumble of laughter.
George looked pensive for a moment; he seemed to be contemplating what to say next. "You know, Ginny isn't the only Weasley with a long-standing crush on the famous Harry Potter."
He actually blushed to the tips of his ears, in true Weasley fashion, and this more than anything else put Harry at ease.
The information was surprising, to say the least, since George Weasley had never paid Harry any special attention. He decided to show there were no hard feelings by joking, "Is that so? I just knew Percy had a thing for me." He couldn't stop a cheeky grin from forming on his lips.
George looked at him and laughed, then pushed against him with his shoulder. "Wanker."
Harry, finally relaxed, said, "You're different when you're not with Fred."
The broad shoulders shrugged again and the movement raised gooseflesh on Harry's arms. "We're a team, Fred and I. It's true we work off of each other, but I wouldn't be much of a conversationalist if I could only manage unfinished sentences when I was alone, would I?"
Harry was having fun joking at George's expense. "So, when exactly do I get to experience these great skills of conversation, then?"
George's jaw dropped. "You git." He laughed and shook his head.
Harry responded, "Tosser."
Much to Harry's chagrin, George chose to poke him in the side rather than respond. Harry flinched, which caused George to do it again. He grinned somewhat evilly. "Oh! Ticklish, are we?"
By the time Harry had made the decision to get up and run, George had already struck and had Harry flat on his back, trying in vain to defend his ticklish sides and howling with laughter. "All right, I surrender! I surrender!"
George ceased his attack. When Harry opened his eyes, he found George's face inches away from his own, his ginger hair falling forward around his face. He was using those well-developed arms to hold himself up, and Harry's heart started hammering for a different reason.
He said, somewhat uncertain, "Hi."
"Hi yourself," George replied.
Harry watched George's face slowly descend and had to contain a nervous giggle. He couldn't believe that he was about to be kissed by a bloke. The absurdity of it very nearly outweighed the eager anticipation he felt.
George finally captured Harry's lips, and he found himself thinking that this was how a kiss was supposed to be – not soft and wet, but hard and hungry. And this closeness was exactly what had been missing in the 'experiment' – the unknown something.
George broke off the kiss, and looked searchingly into Harry's eyes. Harry knew George was gauging his reaction, so in answer to the unspoken question, Harry pushed his glasses up on top of his head, and then brought his hand up around the back of George's neck. He applied just the slightest pressure to bring George's face down closer to his own, and kissed him again – putting everything he had into it.
When George introduced his tongue into the mix, Harry lost all ability to think. George lowered himself to his elbows and Harry felt the weight resting on him, all solid planes, along with evidence that George was just as excited about this as Harry was.
He heard someone moaning and realized vaguely that it was coming from him. George started moving ever so slightly, rubbing up and down, taking Harry to unimaginable new heights. By instinct, Harry reached around with both arms and pushed George's backside down, desperately needing to feel George fully, to be even closer. He pushed his own hips upwards, grinding their bodies together in a way that threatened to send them both over the edge.
George broke off the kiss, his breathing ragged and labored. He nuzzled his face into Harry's neck. "So hot, so bloody hot – better than I ever imagined. We have to stop, though – we have to. This isn't the place for it."
Harry, just as breathless, had felt bereft at the loss of the George's lips, but he thrilled at his assessment of the activity. He as well was very much enjoying the feel of George's weight on him. They were the same height, and though George was broader for the most part, they were laying chest-to-chest, hip-to-hip, and thigh-to-thigh. Harry reached up and ran his hands over George's back, marveling at the rock hard muscles there, his movements soothing them both.
Once each had their breathing more in control, George moved to the side, only half on Harry, and propped his head on his hand. With the other hand, he moved Harry's glasses down and settled them on his nose, then let his hand rest on Harry's chest. "Do you think you could walk?"
Harry wasn't sure what he'd expected George to say, but that question had not appeared anywhere on the list of possibilities. "I think so, yeah."
"Good. I wanna show you something."
Harry just smirked at him.
George responded with a laugh. "Not that, you randy bastard. Or rather, not only that." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at Harry, who laughed, feeling lighthearted for the first time in – well, maybe ever.
George stood up, lowered a hand to Harry, and then easily hoisted him up. Keeping a hold of Harry's hand, he led him on a short walk to the very wooded copse and brook that had started Harry on this journey.
George looked at him expectantly, but Harry was at a loss as to what he was looking for. "Why are we at the brook?"
"You've been here before? This very spot?" George was looking at him curiously.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, Ron and I hid in here about a week ago. Why?"
George dropped Harry's hand and started laughing hard, but Harry didn't get the joke. "Ickle Ronniekins, you dog."
"What are you on about, George?"
"Close your eyes, Harry, and just relax." George paused. "Can you feel it?"
"It feels peaceful."
"Yeah, it does, but there's something underneath that, too, isn't there?" George took hold of his hand again and Harry felt it then, like a charge of electricity that went to the center of him.
"Wow! What is that?"
George explained with a grin. "It's enchanted. Bill enchanted it a few years ago when he started bringing girls here. The brook is always clean and cool; it always feels safe and peaceful and – " George paused for dramatic effect. " – it increases any sexual feelings. So, did anything unusual happen while you were here with Ronnie?"
Harry blushed eight shades of red. That explained it – they'd been enchanted. His excuse at the time had been heat stroke but they'd really been enchanted. Ron had been thinking of Hermione in there and had become painfully aroused; Harry hadn't been aroused upon arrival but Ron's condition had stirred him up a bit, enough to agree to that experiment, anyway or maybe it was the idea of the experiment that had stirred him up – he wasn't sure anymore.
He suddenly felt a slight panic, not knowing what to think. Was this all because of an enchantment? Trying to remain calm, he thought of everything that had transpired. He hadn't been in the copse when he'd realized how he felt about George. It couldn't have affected him outside of its bounds, right? And that electric shock he'd received when George took his hand had not been there when he was here with Ron.
George, seeming to read his mind, assured him. "Harry, it only increases existing feelings. It can't do anything if there's nothing there to begin with, so it won't make you feel anything you don't already feel. And the effects only last while you're in the perimeter of the enchantment. I don't think Ron knows about it either."
Harry felt much better at hearing that, but felt compelled to explain. "We didn't do anything, really, it was just – er, an experiment."
George moved closer and closer. "An experiment, eh? Do tell. How did this 'experiment' turn out, then?"
Harry was certain his heart was going to beat itself right out of his chest. His never fully cooled blood heated to boiling once again, his entire body pulsating.
He saw George grin as he closed the distance between them. Just before he was completely lost, Harry replied, "I'm still – er, testing the data, but I think it's safe to say it was a success."
A/N – Thank you to ThaliaChaunacy for her beta efforts in the face of The Evil Computer Conspiracy of 2005. Thanks for loving the story!
As always, many thanks to my friend, Casey, who found good things to say about this story, and encouraged me to submit it, despite the fact that it is not his cuppa.
And thanks to Musings for all the help and encouragement.