|SIYE Time:18:38 on 23rd May 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: 86895; Chapter Total: 4289
Episode Thirty Five
The Ingenuity of Fred and George
Harry appeared to be no better off than Neville, though, at least Harry looked like he had been awake when Ginny had knocked. He appeared surprised to see her at first, but she saw him shoot Roger a very knowing look when he thought she wasn’t paying attention. This was all becoming very suspicious.
“May I come in?” Ginny asked, though not nearly as tentatively as she had asked Neville. She was more than willing to fight her way in if he required it of her.
“Please,” he said, opening the door wider to allow her entry. This showed good judgment on his part. No one could say Harry was not an intelligent man…or at least a cautious one.
He shut the door behind her and winced, his eyes opening up slightly cross-eyed before he exhaled heavily and sat down on the nearest available seat. Ginny sat in a seat near his and watched him. Something seemed very fishy.
“What can I do for you?” Harry asked after he regained his composure.
“What you can do for me, Mr. Potter,” Ginny bite off every word, “is tell me your side of the story.”
The expression on Harry’s face would have been very convincing if she hadn’t been expecting it. It was a little too innocent for the situation. “I’m not sure what you mean? I would think that any side of the story would be the same. Why do you need mine?” He didn’t seem at all taken aback by the tone in her voice. Ginny wished he show some hesitation, just to give her a reason to be madder at him.
She decided to change her tactics. “Roger out there is sporting a very nice watch. I wonder where he got it. It looks very new.” She received the reaction she had been hoping for.
Harry jumped as though he had been goosed and his eyes seemed clearer than they had a few seconds earlier. “What’s that got to do with me?” he asked defensively.
“You don’t know how Roger could have gotten a hold of such a nice new watch?”
“How would I know anything about that?” Harry stood up as he asked this question and started pacing slightly. He seemed very spry and not at all as though his head was bothering him any more than would be normal.
Ginny had a thought, a suspicion, and she was curious to see if she was right. If she was, Harry would have a lot of explaining to do though at the same time, many things would explain themselves.
She stood up and with deliberate casualness, walked toward the door she had entered by. Casual or not, Harry stopped pacing and watched her confusedly, as though wondering why she was leaving so soon. She opened the door slowly and, watching Harry closely, slammed it as hard as she could.
The sound of the closing door echoed throughout the room but Harry no more than flinched. “What are you doing?” he asked, genuinely confused.
“What happened to your hangover, Mr. Potter?”
Comprehension dawned on Harry’s face before he started laughing. “I should have figured I couldn’t get one past you.”
His smile broadened when he saw Ginny’s face darken with anger. The insufferable man! Being amused that his silly trick hadn’t convinced me.
Ginny started in on him. “Harry James Potter, what on earth is going on?”
Harry did a double take, his smile disappearing completely from his face.
“How do you know my middle name?”
Ginny rolled her eyes before answering. “You’re Harry Potter: everyone knows your middle name. Now, don’t change the subject.” Still standing by the door, Ginny placed her hands squarely on her hips and glared at Harry as he smiled at her. “I want to know what’s going on, and considering the situation, what I know of it, I think I have every right to know.”
“That you do,” Harry grinned. “Why don’t you sit down? This may take a while.”
Still glaring, Ginny took Harry’s suggestion to sit. She was about to sit in the seat she had just vacated, but there was an open seat next to Harry on the couch. He gave her a knowing look, daring her to sit next to him. Turning her nose up slightly, she took that dare. She plopped herself down on the seat beside him and turned to face him squarely. His smile deepened and Ginny felt her face burning in anger at his uncanny ability to read her thoughts.
“Well, I assume you’ve heard that Neville and I were drinking last night?”
“Of course. Though I am curious as to how you managed to escape from that unscathed. You must be quite a drinker if you can handle that without a hangover.”
“If you’d let me explain you would understand how it was managed.”
Ginny huffed and crossed her arms. “Well, go on then.”
Harry smiled again. “Do you know anything about the man who owns this house?”
Ginny blinked several times. She sat there for a moment to make sure she had heard him say what she thought she heard him say. It was ludicrous. He couldn’t be serious. “What the hell does that have to do with anything?” she asked with venom in her voice.
“Quite a bit, as you will soon see.” Ginny gestured impatiently with him to get on with it. “Since you apparently don’t know about the man who owns this house, I’ll have to explain.
“The man who owns this house is named Lesley Caldwell, though that’s not important. What is important about him is that Mr. Caldwell is an alcoholic. Practically every room in this house has a stash of liquor somewhere, it’s just a question of where to look. You see, Mr. Caldwell doesn’t like being anywhere without his drink.”
“How do you know all this?”
“The escorts know everything, it would seem.” Ginny’s face registered her confusion, so Harry explained. “In order to explain, I suppose I have to go back even further. You, of course, know that my parents were killed when I was young, but few know where I was for the first 11 years of my life. I stayed at the house of my mother’s sister and her husband, Petunia and Vernon Dursley. They, along with their son Dudley, delighted in making my life miserable.
“I knew nothing of magic, let alone my connection to it until I received my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. My aunt and uncle had concealed everything from me, even the true nature of my parents’ death. Needless to say, I was surprised, when I finally joined the wizarding world, that everyone knew who I was.” He laughed, “I didn’t even bloody-well know who I was!
“To make a long story short — or at least shorter — I didn’t know I was famous and I certainly didn’t want to be famous. Not for that reason, anyway. Who wants to be famous because they lived when their parents were killed? So, for quite some time now, I’ve been trying to show people that I’m an ordinary person. No one needs to realize that more than those who are told they are inferior.”
“What are you talking about?” Ginny asked quietly, hoping that she wouldn’t ruin his train of thought.
“Over the years, I’ve made friends with house elves and other such creatures. I have friends among the lower ranks of the Ministry of Magic whom I hold more dearly than those who have vied for my ‘friendship’ in the upper reaches. I have even,” he added in a tone of conspiracy. “made friends with the escorts and cameramen.”
“So,” Ginny asked knowingly. “what did Roger do for you that warranted you buying him a watch?”
Harry grinned again. “I’m not sure my gift-giving is any of your concern. Suffice it to say, he did me a favor.”
Infuriated, Ginny crossed her arms and sat back with a huff.
“For just about the whole show, I’ve been meeting with the guys each evening. In fact, I was just going to meet them the one night that you saw me in the hall, remember?”
Oh, I remember! thought Ginny. “Sure,” was all she said.
“Well, last night I met with them all again. I was pretty bummed out about the way dinner had gone,” he missed Ginny’s glare at this point and continued on. “But while I was sitting there, feeling sorry for myself, Roger showed up.” Ginny’s look of confusion was not lost on Harry this time, who stopped to explain. “Roger walked you to your room last night. He’s escorted you most of the time here.” Ginny blushed to realize that she had not really noticed Roger until that day.
“So, anyway, Roger showed up and gave me a most shocking bit of news.”
Ginny waited expectantly. “He informed me that when you reached your room, you not only began crying, but you were also screaming and throwing things. This struck me as odd,” he continued, despite the murderous look that Ginny was casting toward the closed door, behind which Roger no doubt waited for her. “because you had seemed pretty much set on Neville. I had figured that I didn’t have a chance. When I heard that you had been crying, it dared to give me hope that perhaps your heart wasn’t set on Neville.”
“Anyway, Roger showed up and told me what he found out and I realized that I had been stupid. I knew I needed more time. I needed a chance to explain myself. You see,” he looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “I thought that you were still in love with Neville. You seemed happy talking with him and I didn’t want to get in the way of that. That’s why I backed off. I wasn’t because I didn’t care; it was because I do care. I wanted you to be happy,” he whispered the last. “When I heard that you had been crying, I thought perhaps I still had a chance.”
Ginny thought distantly that perhaps she shouldn’t have tried to make Harry jealous the night before. It obviously didn’t have the effect she had been hoping for. She didn’t tell him this, of course.
“So, the guys helped me come up with a plan. They showed me where one of Mr. Caldwell’s liquor stashes was and helped me figure out what to do. It was really with the help of a small item I picked up at your brothers’ shop a couple years back that made the plan what it was.”
“I had one of the guys get Neville for me and made sure I was drinking something when he walked in. I offered to share some drinks with him and he agreed rather quickly. It wasn’t until after several shots that he started getting suspicious. I figured I ought to at least act like I was getting sloshed. Not having much experience with the matter, I merely imitated Neville. He seemed rather good at the whole drunk thing, considering that he was already intoxicated.”
“How did you manage to stay sober?”
“That’s what I meant about the little item from your brothers’ shop. Now that I am of age, whenever people see the ‘Famous Harry Potter,’ they usually offer to buy me a drink. After several years of this, I decided it was time to do something about it. I really don’t like alcohol that much. The buzz isn’t bad, but the stuff tastes horrible. I found the answer to my problem a couple of years ago. It’s called the Inebriated Liberator. Have you heard of it?” Ginny shook her head slowly. “Well, basically, it’s a tiny sponge. You put it under your tongue and it absorbs all the alcohol as soon as it enters your mouth. I tried using it once and it wasn’t exactly what I needed, so I went back to your brothers and they made a small modification. The way they had made it originally, it stopped absorbing after a certain amount of liquid was present. I explained that I needed it to have no limitation. They were only too glad to fix it for me.
“As long as we weren’t drinking vodka, there was still enough liquid left after all the alcohol was absorbed that I was still swallowing something substantial. I didn’t swallow a drop of liquor last night, though, poor Neville, we just about finished off all that Mr. Caldwell had in that specific stash.”
“You mean to tell me that you spent hours pouring alcohol down your throat and didn’t swallow a drop of it?”
“Yeah, pretty impressive item isn’t it? One of the more ingenious ideas of Fred and George, I believe.”
“And you expect me to believe that?”
Harry glanced at her in consternation. “Do I look hung over to you?”
“Well, you were acting like you were when I came in. How do I know you’re not acting as though you’re not hung over now?” Ginny asked without much conviction.
Harry laughed and Ginny found herself smiling along.
“So, where does this put us?” Ginny asked suddenly.
Harry’s laugher died out and his face turned serious. “I’m not sure that’s for me to decide. This is your decision.”
That’s not the answer I wanted from you! “Yes, I suppose it is,” Ginny answered noncommittally. If he’s going to be ambiguous, so am I!
“Well,” Ginny said, standing up. “I should get back to my room in case Connie comes looking for me.”
Harry quirked an eyebrow. “Is that the real reason you’re leaving?”
Ginny gave an exaggerated fake sigh as she walked to the door. “Really, I think I need a drink.” She winked at him as she closed the door behind her and she could still hear him laughing as she followed Roger around the corner.
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