When Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Imitates...
DISCLAIMER 1: J.K.Rowling owns the characters of this story (except David), and I'm not making any money on it. Warner Bros. owns the rights to the Harry Potter movies. The references to Daniel Radcliffe are strictly in good fun, as part of this parody. No slight or criticism is intended.
DISCLAIMER 2: This story is a significantly edited version of the one I submitted a while ago for a contest at phoenixsong.net. I always intended it as part of a series, though, which I hope to post here.
Chapter 1: The Extra
The girl blew into the coffee shop like a tropical storm - not quite as whirl-windy as a hurricane, but close. Arms akimbo, head thrown back, a curtain of straight black hair over her shoulders, she gave a lusty sigh and exclaimed:
"Finally, relief from the heat!"
All eyes turned to the door in reflex, taking in her appearance. Seconds later, the lady customers scowled in censure of the girl's manners. About the same time, the gentlemen acquired what is commonly referred to as 'silly smiles' on their faces (though Mrs. Zeit, the proprietress - who was fond of saying she had seen all existing types of human fauna pass through her shop at one point or another - quickly classified the expressions as 'bovine besottedness'). A few grunts and muffled exclamations could be heard as the girl walked daintily to a table by the window. Hands starting rubbing at kicked shins and pinched forearms, but all gazes remained glued to her: the male ones glowing with approval for the way her hips moved, as if she was floating on thin air; the female ones shooting daggers at her back.
She didn't notice any of it. Nor did she seem aware of the scowl darkening her companion's face, until they were both seated and he gripped her hand and jerked her forward.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"What are you talking about? Michael, let go of my hand. You're hurting me."
"You know very well what I'm talking about," he hissed without releasing her. "No matter where we go, you want every man to notice you, to... to ogle you. You sashay in here like a two-bit..."
"I wouldn't finish that phrase if I were you," she said very coldly, as her other hand disappeared inside the purse hanging on her shoulder.
"You've lost your mind," he spat back in disgust, but he released her imprisoned wrist and pushed his chair back slightly. "We're in a Muggle coffee shop. You can't..."
"Oh, but I can. Let's see... I believe you're about to have an allergic reaction - boils, rashes, the works," she whispered ominously, and her fingers came out of the purse holding a slim, highly polished piece of wood. "Don't worry, I'll be sure to tell the Muggles that you've been stung by a bee. The one that you've had up your butt all day long."
"Put that back," Michael snapped, annoyed with the shiver of fear running down his spine. He hated it, hated it, whenever she rubbed his nose into the fact that she was of age and could do magic any time she pleased. "You're behaving like a spoiled brat - waving your wand around anytime I don't kowtow to your whims."
"Kowtow to my whims?" Her voice rose shrilly, and again everyone turned to stare in their direction. She flushed and added in a half-tone, "I didn't ask you to kowtow to my whims. All I wanted was a show of support for something which is important to me! That's what boyfriends are supposed to do, you know."
"Oh, yeah? How about what's important to me?"
He raked his fingers through his wavy hair, making it appear carelessly ruffled. He had the dark, brooding face of a romantic hero, and there was an haughtiness in his eyes that indicated he was quite aware of his looks. There wasn't a girl at Hogwarts he couldn't have had - except, perhaps, for the Granger bookworm - but he didn't want that one, anyway. Why, then, did he always have to choose the stubborn ones? Not that he'd imagined Cho was going to turn out this way. She had seemed so fragile and lost at the end of the year, that all he'd wanted to do was hold her in his arms and make her troubles go away. His insides had filled with warmth whenever she'd clung to him, and cried softly on his shoulder for the memory of her first boyfriend. A lesser man than himself might have become jealous, but he'd been touched by her tragic devotion, and by her admission that he was the only one who understood her. So he had vowed to be her protector, always... What a joke that had turned out to be! Barely a month into their relationship, he could hardly recognize his girlfriend. Gone was the needy girl with sad eyes. Almost overnight, she had changed into a shrew who cared nothing for his wishes or wants.
Come to think of it, that's how things had gone wrong with Ginny, too. He felt his blood boiling, as it did every time he remembered their breakup. Had it been so much to ask of her to not catch one stinking Snitch? No one would have blamed her - after all, they could hardly expect a rookie to succeed. He, himself, had been quite sure she'd fail, but just in case, he'd dropped plenty of hints about the sizable bet he'd placed on a Ravenclaw win. Was the little twit so dim that she hadn't understood? Perhaps he should have asked her directly - but then, that would have been ungentlemanly of him. Besides, she should have realized that he planned to buy her a nice gift with the winnings. He'd always treated her like a princess, ever since he'd first noticed her at the Yule Ball. Something had twisted deep in his heart at the sight of the small girl dressed in second-hand robes, dancing gamely with that clumsy clod, while her big, wistful eyes kept darting towards Potter. She had seemed so sad and painfully shy, and he'd wanted so much to make her happy! Boy, had he been wrong. His hand rubbed a spot on his chest that was still sore from the Stunning Spells that had hit him with unerring precision, time after time during the DA meetings. Yet another memento from the 'little princess'...
The problem with girls, Michael mused sourly, was that they changed right under a bloke's nose. He sighed and focused back on the current bane of his existence. This argument was giving him an eerie sense of deja vu.
"I believe I made my position quite clear. I told you I didn't want you to go to that - what did you call it?"
"Audition," Cho replied coldly. "Yeah, you told me, but you never gave me a good reason for it."
"I gave you plenty of reasons." He crossed his arms and scowled at her.
"You whined and you growled, but you never said anything that made a lick of sense."
"Oh yeah? How about flouting the Decree of Secrecy, and risking a stay in Azkaban?"
"I did not flout the Decree," she said in a dignified tone. "I did not give them my real name, not that they would have believed me anyway."
"You talked to a bunch of Muggles that are making a... a - what did you call it? - about our world!"
"It's called a film. Or a movie. And all I did was pretend to be someone else and move around a bit while they were shooting."
"Shooting?" His voice thickened with alarm. "You mean with firelegs? Cho, those are deadly! I heard Mum talking about a case she was working on with this Auror bloke - Shacklerod or something - and he told her... Well, I'm glad you find my concern so amusing," he interrupted his tirade abruptly, looking away from her.
"Sorry," Cho hiccuped, trying to stifle another snicker. "But you were so funny! Really, Michael, you should sit in on some Muggle classes, every now and then. Anyway, the shooting I was referring to in this case is that of the movie. See, there are all these actors saying their lines - it's all rather like theater, but with no stage and no audience."
"What's the point of doing a play with no audience? Told you Muggle actors were weird," he snorted.
"Well, let me finish," she huffed. "What I was going to say is that instead of an audience, there are folks moving a strange box around and taking pictures of everything - and that's called shooting. The photographs are a lot like the wizard ones, except they come out on a big screen. Oh, and it's not just the people in them that change, but the background, too."
Michael's eyes grew wide, as he lost track of the argument. "They can do that without magic?"
"I told you, Muggles are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Oh, Michael, why don't you come with me to see a movie? You'll love it!" she said in earnest entreaty.
Her almond-shaped eyes were glimmering wet, and Michael felt himself relenting. Why not grant her this wish, after all? His fingers caressed her cheek as he nodded his assent.
"Alright, we'll go see a movie together."
"Really?" Cho beamed. "Oh, it will be brilliant! Maybe I'll get the part I auditioned for, and then we can go to the premiere and watch me on the big screen."
"I said we could go see a movie, not that you can be in one! I will not have your photograph on public display, where everyone can ogle it. And I most certainly will not have my girlfriend prancing around in the company of some no-good actors, in those skimpy excuses for clothes that Muggle women wear."
Cho's smiled vanished. "You will not have it?! Who the bloody hell do you think you are, to tell me what I can or cannot do? Or what I'm allowed to wear? I have every intention of being in that movie, if they'll have me. And I'll prance around anyway I want, and with whomever I choose."
"In other words, with Radcliffe!" he exploded, shocking her into silence. "You think I don't know that's why you want to be in those Muggle pictures? All you've been talking about since you got this stupid idea in your head is Daniel this, and Daniel that."
"Well," she replied coldly, "I didn't realize you were even listening to me. But if you'd paid more attention to my words, you'd recall that I said I was impressed with his talent. He really captures Harry's personality very accurately."
"Oh, yeah, I'm sure it's his talent you're interested in!"
"And just what's that supposed to mean?"
" 'Britain's hottest star!' " he intoned in a high-pitched voice, dripping with disdain. " 'The hunky heartthrob' - 'The stuff of girls' dreams' - 'Oh, he's so dishy!' "
"I didn't know you were a fan," she replied sarcastically.
"It's rather hard to ignore him, when every Muggle magazine has his picture on the cover. And when your girlfriend happens to be obsessed with the hunky heartthrob."
"Stop calling him that! It is insulting to him, and to me. I am simply impressed with his talent, nothing more."
"Oh, sure," he rolled his eyes. "His celebrity has nothing to do with it! Just like it had nothing to do with your feelings for Potter, I suppose."
"Leave my feelings for Harry out of this. I am not going to sit here and discuss him with you."
"Well, then, how about we discuss Diggory? Tell me, how come you only went out with him after he became a Triwizard Champion?"
Cho gaped at him in stunned silence for a long moment. Then, quite without warning, her face scrunched up and she burst into tears. She lowered her head, letting her long hair curtain her from view, but he could still see her body shaking with sobs. Michael's heart squeezed in panic. True, he had handled her crying before, but it had never been like this, turned against him and angry. And now, on top of everything, he had to deal with it in a public place! Practically everyone in the shop had turned to watch them, and most of the stares directed at him were accusatory - though there was some amount of sympathy on the men's part. He was patting Cho's head awkwardly and trying to soothe her when a shadow fell over their table.
"Phew, it's so hot, you could cook a Hippogriff out there," the newcomer said, lowering himself in a chair and throwing the thick file he'd been caring on a side seat.
"Don't say Hippogriff when there are Muggles around, David," Michael muttered in annoyance, frowning at his older brother. As usual, his timing was perfect.
"No worries, bro. It's the latest rage. The Muggles are so taken with the 'Harry Potter' books that I could do a spell right now and they wouldn't bat an eyelash. They'd probably think we're shooting the next movie. Isn't that right, Cho?" he slapped her on the back with a guffaw. The muffled sob that issued made him notice for the first time that she hadn't greeted him, or even looked in his direction, since he'd arrived. "What happened here? Is something wrong with her?"
"Nothing's wrong," Michael said curtly.
"N-nothing," Cho hiccuped, raising her head, "except for the f-fact that in his opinion I'm a sh-shallow bubble-head."
"You called her that?!" David hollered in outrage.
"Of course not!" Michael protested. "I do not call my girlfriend names."
"No, you only a-accuse me of liking boys just b-because they're famous. And you're... you're dumping your insecurities on me, and trying to make me into the guilty party on top of it!"
"That's ridiculous," Michael sputtered, feeling his face flame up. Why, oh why, did David have to be present for every embarrassing moment of his life?
"Oh, I quite agree that what you're doing is ridiculous," Cho wiped her eyes, her voice gaining in strength as she went. "Everything was fine and dandy between us while I was feeling weak, but now that I'm trying to get back to my normal self, you can't handle it. You don't know what to do with a girl who has a mind and a will of her own. So let me make this clear to you, Michael Corner: either you improve your attitude, or we're finished."
Tense silence descended over their table. By now, everyone in the store was eyeing them with a hungry look on their faces, as if they were watching a television drama. David seemed to realize that, and he twisted around and glowered at the spectators. His fierce gaze cowed them quickly. For all his easy going manner and charming smile, the man could look really dangerous when he wanted to. Michael scowled again.
"Look, Cho," David said quietly, "I know my brother is a pain in the butt on occasion, but he can't be all that bad if a pretty girl like you decided to date him. True, I personally don't understand why anyone would choose this knucklehead, but I figure you must have had your reasons. So maybe you should think about them before you make a decision. Okay?"
Cho shrugged and didn't answer.
"Right then," he clapped his hands, trying to sound cheerful, "how did the audition go?"
He could tell it was the wrong question immediately, from the storm brewing on Michael's face.
"It's all your bloody fault! You're the one who put these stupid ideas in her head, about movies, and auditions, and Muggle celebrities. Mark my words, sooner or later you'll get in trouble with the Ministry. And I won't have you bring Cho down with you when it happens."
"I see you're back to harping about my career. Why can't you get it through your thick head, Mick?" he used the hated nickname on purpose, making him wince. "I work with special effects people - they're used to making magic of their own. They may not use wands like us, but trust me, the things they can do with a computer... Besides, Cho wouldn't even be doing that. She only auditioned to be an extra in the next Harry Potter movie - she'll just dress up in robes and wave a fake wand around. There's no harm in that."
"That's what you keep saying. You may have convinced the Ministry that working on those Muggle pictures won't jeopardize the secret of our existence, but how long do you think they're going to ignore what you're doing? You're basically showing the Muggles our world."
"Oh, come off it, Michael," Cho snapped in annoyance. "You've never even seen what David has done. His version of Hogwarts looks nothing like the real one. Why, I'd die of cold if I had to live in that Gothic castle all year long!"
"I know," David snickered. "Can you believe they bought it? Not just bought it - swallowed it - hook, line and sinker! Muggles' idea of a castle is still something out of the medieval ages."
"Well, to be fair, Hogwarts did look quite different when the Founders built it. It's been modernized 236 times since then, you know," Cho chimed in. "Wonder what the Muggles would think of the new reflecting glass windows in the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw towers..."
"Yeah, or the self-cleaning armchair toilets with mood-adjusting music! I hear Myrtle went bananas when they tried to install them in her bathroom, last year."
"Bit of a waste, that. No one goes there anyway - except for Ginny, I suppose," she said maliciously. "You know, David, you should come visit some time. I bet you'd hardly recognize our common room. They did a complete makeover last year, when we played hosts to the Beauxbatons students."
"Oh, well, I don't know... I'm kind of busy right now, what with the fourth movie starting to shoot soon and all."
"Actually, I meant to ask you something about that. You're going to put in the Hogwarts Express again, right?"
"Now, now, Cho," David winked, touching his nose. "Can't disclose any trade secrets here."
Cho rolled her eyes and pressed on. "Listen, do you think you might make it look a bit more interesting this time around?"
"You didn't like it?" he asked offended. "The model we used was almost identical to the real one!"
"Yeah, but you left out the interesting parts - like the rats running inside the wheels, and the Augurey that signals when the train leaves the station, and... oh, David, couldn't you at least show the engine room? I used to sneak in there for hours! There's nothing funnier than a fist fight between doxies and fairies. Whoever thought about using them to power a train must have been a genius."
"You sneaked in there, too? How come I never saw you?" David asked surprised.
"Oh, well, I wasn't about to let a Prefect see me, was I?" Cho smiled slyly. "No, it was better to hold it over your head that you were breaking the rules. Though I suppose I held it a tad too long - not much blackmailing material left, three years after you finished school." She gave an exaggerated sigh and stared somberly at him. Then, as if on cue, they both burst out into fits of laughter.
"What about Quidditch, then?" Michael's grumpy voice suddenly broke into their merriment. He'd had quite enough of being treated like an extra chair at their table!
Cho and David abruptly stopped laughing and turned to stare at him with bemused eyes. Clearly, they had quite forgotten he was there.
"What about Quidditch, Michael?"
"Well, I heard Justin Finch-Fletchley say that it looks exactly like in real life. How come you didn't change that, as well? Sooner or later, the Ministry is bound to notice!"
"Change Quidditch?!" David and Cho exclaimed at the same time, goggling at Michael as if he'd grown another head.
"Have you lost your mind?" David added in disbelief.
"You can't touch Quidditch," Cho decreed with an air of finality.
"Why not? Seems like you've changed pretty much everything else."
"Yeah, a castle, a train, sure - they're just things, after all. But Quidditch? That's more than just our sport, it's... it's a way of life, it's a spiritual experience, it's... Quidditch," David whispered reverently, his eyes feverish with passion.
"Do you have any idea how many hundreds of years it took to develop it to what it is today?" Cho added, staring Michael down with equal intensity. "And you want to temper with something so amazing, so wondrous, that it's practically perfect?!"
"You're both crazy." Michael spoke quietly this time, his voice colored by the revelation. He had finally discovered what was wrong with these two people in his life. "And when you face the Wizengamot..."
"We won't," Cho interrupted. "Muggles think the movies are just make-believe. David can show them anything, even the Hogwarts Express engine," - at this she gave the older brother an impish wink - "and it would still never occur to them to wonder if it's real. As for me, there's absolutely no risk of discovery. Even if I had gotten the part I auditioned for in January..." She trailed off as she saw the surprised look on their faces. Darn, she hadn't intended to mention this. The failure still stung.
"You auditioned in January?" David asked, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "But that's when they were casting for..." His eyes grew wide. "You auditioned for the part of... Cho Chang?"
"WHAT?!" Michael exploded. "You wanted to... to play yourself?"
"Yeah, well, I didn't get it," she said morosely. "They told me I didn't really understand my character."
David patted her shoulder gruffly. "Shows how much they know. Don't worry, there will always be a next movie, if that's what you want to do for a career."
"You wanted to play yourself?" Michael repeated, gazing off into space as if trying to catch a slippery thought. "That movie is supposed to take place last year, during the Tournament, right? B-but that would mean..." His eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You were Diggory's girlfriend last year, and starting to like Potter, too, by your own admission. So if you'd gotten the role, you'd have had to snog the actor that plays Diggory in the movie! I bet he's a good-looking one - he'd have to be, in order to get that part. And Radcliffe? Were you hoping to snog him, too? Did you snog Potter last year? Or did you only..."
"Oh, here we go again," Cho muttered in disgust as she slid her hand inside her purse with a determined glint in her eyes.
A/N: Yes, I know that in JK's notes, Michael Corner is listed as half-blood, which would make his ignorance of Muggle movies seem odd. However, he is also listed there as a Hufflepuff, and she's obviously changed her mind about that in the books. So I took the liberty of assuming he's a pure-blood in the books. If you don't like that assumption, you could always imagine he's been raised in the magical community, with little or no knowledge of the Muggle world.