|SIYE Time:17:58 on 18th August 2017|
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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom
Story is Complete
Summary: Ginny is persuaded to be on a Bachelor-type reality show against her better judgement. Who is the hunk all the women are fighting over? We know him. We love him. But in my story, Ginny's never met him. NOTE: If you think you'll hate this story, read it anyway! I hate reality shows too, you know! lol Trust me, you'll love it...I proclaim in as non-arrogant a way as possible... *sweat drop*
Hitcount: Story Total: 90818; Chapter Total: 4670
A Chance to Explain
Ginny swore loudly as the rest of Harry’s body materialized in her bedroom. “What are you doing in here?” she hissed angrily.
Harry looked a bit sheepish as stood folding and unfolding his cloak over his arm. “I just wanted to explain some things to you and I didn’t want any cameras around.”
“So you snuck into my room? Are you insane?” Ginny asked in a tizzy.
Harry muttered to himself for a couple of minutes. “Are you going to let me explain or aren’t you?”
Ginny sat up straighter and crossed her arms. “Go ahead.”
“Well,” Harry seemed out of sorts and a little put out that Ginny wasn’t being more cooperative. “I can’t really explain here.”
Growling deep in her throat, Ginny pulled herself out of bed and draped her bathrobe over her shoulders. “Where to, Mr. Potter?”
Harry lifted a piece of parchment up to his nose, as though trying to read something, but there apparently wasn’t enough light. Reaching over to her bedside table, Ginny lifted her wand. “Lumos,” she muttered.
“Right. Thanks,” Harry said without taking his eyes off the paper. “Looks like the way is clear, but we probably ought to stay under the cloak anyway.”
Ginny blinked at him a couple of times. “I miss the days when people would talk and I actually understood what they were trying to get across,” she muttered loud enough for Harry to hear. “What are you talking about?”
“Here,” he said in way of answering as he handed her the piece of parchment. She took it from his hand and turned it so that she could see it right-side-up. It was a map. Of the castle. That in itself would have been interesting enough — it really wasn’t a wonder that she’d gotten lost the other day. This place was insanely confusing — then she saw little labeled dots on the paper and some of them were moving.
“What is this?” she asked in awe.
“I bought it from your brothers during our date to Diagon Alley. Er, yours and mine; it sounded like I was saying I bought it on my date with your brothers, which obviously is not true. I mean, I didn’t go on a date with your brothers. That’s just weird. Sorry, I’m saying this all wrong. Anyway, remember the map-maker I bought?” Ginny nodded, dumbfounded and not sure whether to laugh hysterically or continuing being upset. “Well, this is what it makes. It’s called a Marauder’s Map, but they couldn’t use that term because it’s trademark.” Now Ginny was really confused. Harry seemed to realize that. “Well, that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we can see when someone’s coming close so we’ll easily be able to make it to where I’m taking you without getting caught.”
“Where exactly is it that you’re taking me?”
Harry winced at the coldness in her voice. After asking her to extinguish her light, he motioned her toward the door beside him and threw the cloak over the two of them before stepping out into the silent hallway.
“Stay close,” Harry whispered. Yeah, as if I have a choice.
They walked down the hall into the alcove and Harry silently opened the door that led to the rest of the castle, pulled Ginny through, and closed it just as silently behind them. He paused for a second to look at the map again, his face so close to the parchment that his glasses had gone askew.
“Will this cloak hide light too?” Ginny asked as patiently as possible.
“I think so,” Harry answered without looking up.
“Good. Lumos.” Harry gave her a brief sheepish smile as he pulled his head back from the paper.
“I didn’t think to bring mine,” he whispered by way on an excuse as he continued to study the map.
Ginny crossed her arms as casually as possible, crouched over as she was. She always suspected that invisibility cloaks were big enough to hide two full-grown individuals. Why? She had no idea, but it just seemed more logical than standing here with her back becoming increasingly sore while the Boy Who Lived gazed at his magic map. Hurry up!
“Looks like it’s safe,” he whispered as he slipped the now-rolled up map in his back pocket and led her down the hall. He took the map out periodically to make sure no one was around and to keep them from getting lost.
At length, he stopped her outside a room that looked familiar to Ginny somehow. “It’s locked,” Harry said in bewilderment; he apparently didn’t think it would be.
Ginny barked a mirthless laugh and pulled her wand back out. “Alohamora,” Ginny said in a bored tone.
“Right. Thanks again.”
“My pleasure,” Ginny bit back.
Harry opened the door and pulled Ginny in behind him. She found herself standing in Connie’s office. “What are we doing here?”
Harry put a finger to his lips as he relocked the door and pulled her across the room. There seemed to be a crease in the wall and when Harry lightly nudged it, part of the wall popped open. “How did you do that without your wand?” Ginny asked, confused.
Harry gave a real laugh, though a quiet one. “That was hardly magic. Look.” He pointed to a spring on the door jam and a magnet on the door. Ginny blushed but it was thankfully too dark for Harry to see. “Come on.” Harry urged.
Ginny followed Harry into the room adjacent to Connie’s office and closed the door behind them. She put a silencing charm on the room after Harry asked her to then took a look around.
They seemed to be in the archives room. She didn’t even know there was an archives room. Apparently that was intentional or it wouldn’t have been hidden behind a secret door. “Okay. So…now what?”
Harry pulled out a chair in front of one of the many screens circling the room and motioned for her to sit down. From behind her chair, Harry maneuvered his arm around to start some kind of clip on the screen, meaning that his arm was pressed up against her elbow and he was leaned over very close to her. She breathed deeply. Mmmm, he smells good. Stop that! You’re mad at him. And then another thought. Am I really?
“Here it is,” Harry murmured. He stepped back to give Ginny a better view of the monitor but he stayed behind her chair, his hands resting on either side of her head. It was admittedly quite distracting.
As she watched the screen, trying hard not to smell Harry and not to feel his presence behind her, she realized that he had started a clip of some of the footage from earlier in the show. Ginny was forced to look at Janice, which she had hoped that she’d never have to do again. “This was the first of many clues I found in here. After this one I decided that I needed to look for more.” Harry’s voice was soft, but not quite a whisper, as he worked to keep his voice quiet enough that they could still hear people talking. Janice stood in the background while some of the cameramen interviewed other people. Ginny could hear just fine but she found that she wasn’t paying attention to any of the words because of Harry’s nearness. Then, just when Ginny was about to open her mouth and ask what on earth they were waiting for, Janice’s face changed. She went from looking like her arrogant self, all self-possession and poise to suddenly looking embarrassed and almost — was it frightened? With a casualness that was very obviously faked, Janice reached slowly into the purse slung over her shoulder and lifted something out. Ginny leaned closer to the screen to see what she was holding. Ginny smiled triumphantly as she watched Janice nervously turn off her ringing cell-phone.
“Yeah,” Ginny began. “That is fairly obvious, but how did you come across this clip? It’s kind of random, isn’t it?”
“I watched all of the interviews,” Harry replied shortly.
“When is this, though? I mean, it couldn’t be during their group date because Janice would have still been with you at this point for her individual date. Plus, she’s not wearing her look-at-me-I’m-practically-naked swimsuit.”
Harry snorted a disgusted laugh before answering. “To answer your question, look at who’s being interviewed.” Ginny did.
“I don’t know her,” Ginny informed Harry.
“Exactly. This was an interview given before the first ceremony. That’s why Janice having a mobile phone was merely a clue instead of the sure-fire proof that I was determined to find. Because of this clip, I found others.”
Harry showed Ginny several more clips from days ago that could have pointed to the truth but didn’t really prove anything. One of the clinchers, however, was a clip of breakfast. It was before they had been whittled down to the final three, so Harry was sitting at the head of the table with Janice on one side, with Becky next to her and Ginny on the same side but farthest from Harry with Trista across from her, Laurie next to Trista and Denise between Harry and Laurie. There was a very good shot at one point of Becky glaring down at Janice, then later of Janice’s haughty expression, which she was always lacking when Harry looked her way, directed at anyone else that she looked at. She shot daggers down the table when Ginny coughed on her pumpkin juice; that wasn’t quite the dead giveaway he said he was looking for, but it did definitely proved that perhaps Janice wasn’t always what she seemed to be.
“I went from the oldest stuff to the newest, so I didn’t see this clip until the end. If I had seen it sooner, I wouldn’t have had to watch anything else.” Ginny watched, from above, the scene unfold. She heard the words again and they still heated her face with anger. When the figure of her on the screen punched Janice, Ginny wished she could do it again.
“That felt really good, you know,” Ginny admitted without qualm, her voice harsh with emotion.
Harry was silent for a while. “Thank you, Ginny. For standing up for me like that. I didn’t deserve it, after how I treated you, but you stood by me anyway. Thank you.”
“Even if I was pissed off at you — which I was, don’t get the wrong idea — I couldn’t let her get away with saying something like that!”
“I know,” he whispered, not looking at her. “That’s why I’m saying thank you. That’s why I’m so sorry for the way I treated you.”
“Harry,” Ginny said with a warning tone, causing him to raise his eyes to meet hers in confusion. “’Meek’ really doesn’t suit you. Knock it off”
He laughed a bit when he saw her smile. “So, anyway, I wanted to let you know how sorry I was for the other day and I figured you’d like to know where the change of heart came from.”
“Oh, indeed I did. In fact, that’s what I was thinking about when someone suddenly scared the life out of me by appearing in the middle of my bedroom.” Harry had the decency to blush at this statement but he really didn’t appear to feel guilty. “Do you know how dangerous it is to walk into a girl’s bedroom in the middle of the night? How did you know I wasn’t sleeping topless?”
Harry gaped. “You sleep topless?” he asked almost breathlessly.
“Not to your knowledge,” was her only reply. “But what if I had been? Wouldn’t you be embarrassed.” It was not a question.
“So…where do we go from here?” Harry asked at length, obviously trying to change the topic, considering the way he cleared his throat before speaking again.
“Why are you asking me? You’re the one in pseudo-charge of the whole mess.”
“Fine then,” he said with conviction. “Starting tomorrow I’m to take you and Trista — separately — back to my house. We can start over then, in a sense.”
“But not completely.”
“Of course not.”
“Because I think we had some bonding going on during our group date, what with the insane, uncontrollable laughing and the amazing rollercoaster ride.”
Harry laughed in agreement. “Did you notice that you were the only one from your group date that made it through that ceremony?”
Ginny looked at him askance. “That wasn’t on purpose, was it?”
“Not completely. But I figured that if they were so concerned with making you look worse, then they really didn’t care anything about me.”
Ginny blushed. “No offence, but I was starting to believe that you were completely oblivious to the way they were acting.”
Harry’s eyes sparkled as he smiled at her. “Just because I was blind to Janice’s ruse doesn’t mean I don’t catch anything. I was quite aware of the war waging between the three of them and you — though it was a rather one-sided war, since you didn’t seem too keen to fight back — even before you made your comments. Which is probably why I was upset with you. I felt like you didn’t believe I was bright enough to catch on.”
Ginny shrugged embarrassedly. “So, that was the case?” Harry asked with a laugh as he leaned over the back of the chair toward her. “Interesting,” he mused, his face very close to hers. She wondered if he had any idea what his nearness was doing to her heart. She wondered if he could hear her heart, if its throbbing was visible to him, near as he was. It didn’t appear so, though he did look quite amused about something.
“You know, I don’t get you,” he said out of the blue.
“Don’t get me?” Ginny was surprised her voice wasn’t breathy.
“Yeah. I mean, on the group date you weren’t upset that they were making you look bad, you were just mad at them for trying to manipulate things. Loved your interview afterwards, by the way. He really didn’t know what to do with you, did he?” He looked closely at her and Ginny had the feeling he was seeing through her eyes into her mind; into her soul. “I don’t really know what to do with you either,” he whispered in a voice that was just barely audible. If Ginny hadn’t been so close, she wouldn’t have heard anything.
The tone of his voice sent a shiver up Ginny’s spine. Her fingers were tingling and she had an overwhelming desire to run her fingers through his hair. Okay, you are getting out of control. Topic change; Ding! “So, that’s what’s happening next on the agenda for the show, huh?” Harry moved back slightly, confused.
“Going to your house. That’s next on the schedule for Trista and me?”
Harry was looking at her in a way that made Ginny feel slightly light-headed and for a moment, it scared her. She turned her head quickly back to the screen. “Was there anything else you wanted me to see here?” she asked a bit breathlessly. The spell broken, Harry stood up straight again and looked at the screen.
“Not really,” he said in a tone that implied…was it regret? Hardly, Ginny! Talk about wishful thinking.
Though…you were the one to look away.
“Well then, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to bed.”
She saw Harry nod so she stood to follow him out the room. He hesitated at the door to the hall, looking at her, before pulling the cloak over the two of them. He opened the door, checked behind them to make sure that everything was at it had been before they came, and closed the door behind them.
He forgot to look at the map first.
When he opened the map to check their status, he hissed in irritation. Ginny moved slightly to peer over his shoulder. In the faint light outside the office, Ginny could see a small dot labeled “Connie” headed right at them.
One more chapter and I'll have caught up with myself...which means, I had better finish the next chapter or I'll be in fairly big trouble. I've spoiled you into thinking I may update every week or so, but with finals, papers and a wedding to plan (12 days left!!!) I don't have all that much time to write... Please be patient!
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