The Sugar Quill
Author: Megan  Story: When Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Imitates...  Chapter: Chapter 2: The Stars
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

When Art Imitates Life Imitates Art Imitates...

DISCLAIMER: J.K.Rowling owns the characters of this story and I'm not making any money on it. Warner Bros. owns the rights to the Harry Potter movies. The references to Emma Watson are strictly in good fun, as part of this parody. No slight or criticism is intended.

Chapter 2: The Stars

What annoyed Harry the most was not Hermione's opinion. After six years of being around her, he had gotten used to the sharp side of her tongue. That was to be expected, not because he deserved it in any way (in his considerate view), but because he knew to expect the unexpected from her. After all, when one received a Firebolt one morning, only to have it confiscated by the evening, one never again took Hermione's support for granted. Still, he could deal with Hermione's criticism by the expedient way of not talking to her anymore. It had worked pretty well three years before, and he saw no reason to change his tried and trusted ways now.

No. What annoyed Harry the most was not Hermione's opinion, nor even Ginny's far more worrisome reaction. He could understand how Ginny, confronted with this unexpected piece of news (heavily distorted by Hermione, in his considerate view), would look simultaneously ready to cry and eager to hex him. Harry suspected that there lived a monster in every human being, and that the one inside Ginny was acting up, sending her stomping from the room. It made him feel a bit sorry, though at the same time somewhat satisfied. He considered it payback for the times when Ginny had made his own monster claw at his insides. Not that he had intended such a result, but fair was fair. (As you may have noticed by now, Harry tends to have a rather selective memory upon occasion, which is to say whenever it suits his purpose. But don't we all?)

In short, what annoyed Harry the most was neither Hermione's opinion, nor Ginny's far more worrisome reaction, nor even Fred and George's stupid behavior. They were, after all, Fred and George, so it was entirely in their character to act silly upon overhearing his argument with Hermione. That had been an unfortunate accident brought about by Ginny's intempestive departure from the room, followed by a volley of random hexes that had caught the two innocent bystanders - so to speak - right in the middle, and immediately perked up their interest as to the cause of her wrath (a very exaggerated one, in his considerate view). But dealing with the twins was a matter of long practice. All that was required was to laugh at their antics and pretend like he didn't want to seal their lips shut, to stop them from making those ridiculous kissy-kissy noises.

All things considered, what annoyed Harry the most was not connected to Hermione's opinion, Ginny's far more worrisome reaction, or Fred and George's stupid behavior. It wasn't even so much the fact that he was starting his every thought round-aboutly, and seemed unable to stop from repeating himself. But then, honestly, when had he ever been allowed to do what he wanted? Sometimes it felt like his whole life was being ordered by someone else, and he would never be able to act outside some mysterious script that ruled it. Which - as he had shouted at Hermione - was the reason he had taken off by himself and visited the Leavesden Studios, without anyone being the wiser. It had been such pure freedom! ...To which Ginny had retorted that it had been sheer idiocy brought about by stupid male hormones (a completely unwarranted response, in his considerate view).

Far from this, what annoyed Harry the most - other than his obsession with the phrase - was Ron's belligerent attitude. While he could excuse Hermione's shrilly voiced criticism ("the girl had been born bossy"), Ginny's ridiculous insinuations ("it wasn't her, it was the monster"), and Fred and George's monkeying about ("they were Fred and George"), there was absolutely no reason for the aggresive manner in which Ron was currently shoving his (abnormally long) nose in Harry's face.

"So what exactly did you want with that Muggle actress, huh? You know very well that it's my sister you're supposed to be with."

That elicited a very exasperated eyeroll. "I'm not supposed to be with anyone! I like Ginny, yeah, but so what? I can't notice any other girl now? You're acting as if I've... I've committed adultery, or something!"

"Haven't you?" Ron shouted. "You're practically..."

"I'm not married to Ginny," Harry shouted over him, more than a little put out. After all the restrictions Ron had put on him and Ginny last year, the hypocrite was now eager to shove them in bed together?! Unbelievable. "Why does everyone act as if I was? I've only just turned seventeen, for goodness sake! In the Muggle world they'd call our relationship 'puppy love.' But not for me, no! Harry Potter's different. Harry Potter is supposed to choose his bride at sixteen, supposed to marry at seventeen, and what? Supposed to have babies at eighteen!"

For a few seconds, both Hermione and Ron goggled at him, speechless. But then Ron's fists tightened most menacingly, and he growled in a very low voice, "Are you saying that you're just trifling with my sister?"

"Look," Harry muttered through clenched teeth, trying to bring some reason back into this argument, though reason was rarely on speaking terms with Ron (in his considerate view). "I wasn't trying to hurt Ginny, or anyone else for that matter. All I did was talk to Emma, share a few stories, have a few laughs. She's a very nice girl, you know, very approachable. You'd think that maybe as a star she'd be snotty, but when you get close to her, she's definitely great. Nice smile, too, I wish..." He trailed off as Hermione's narrow-eyed speculation clearly implied he'd been waxing poetic again.

Ron, however, was far less concerned about undercurrents. "Just how close did you get to her, then, huh?"

"You know what, Ron? I don't think that's any of your business!"

"The hell it isn't!" Ron's hands clenched on Harry's shirt, yanking him off his feet. "Is that what you call not hurting my sister?! How... close.. did... you... get?"

"Ron, put him down!" Hermione shrieked, evidently believing that shaking Harry like a sack of potatoes was not the best way to punctuate one's words. A moment later she accompanied her order by a judiciously aimed spell.

"Oof," Harry grunted, stumbling to his feet.

"Ouch," Ron whined, sucking the back of his hand. Which didn't stop him from growling, "I still want to know how close..."

"Not as close as you got to Lavender," Harry snapped, having reached the end of his patience. "When it comes to hurting the girl you like, I'm nowhere near your class, Won-Won!"

And that finally - finally! - shut Ron up. Unfortunately, it had no effect on Hermione, other than coloring her cheeks with a tinge of red.

"That's not the point, Harry," she ennunciated slowly, as if talking to a dimwit. "You are of course free to like a girl other than Ginny... Oh, shut up, Ron!... But it is dangerous to flirt with this Muggle."

"I didn't flirt... Hang on!" Harry cried indignantly. "Since when do you have something against Muggles?"

Hermione gave him the kind of exasperated look he was used to seeing on Professor McGonagall's face. "Don't you get it? Emma Watson is not just any Muggle girl. She plays in the movies that tell our story. So if you spend any significant amount of time with her... Well, Harry, then they'll have to hire an actress to play Emma, won't they? I mean, when they get to filming this particular period in our lives."

Harry gave her a bewildered look, his anger suddenly deflated. "But... but..."

"Just think of the uproar that would cause in the Muggle world. Harry Potter is friends with Emma Watson. I mean, she's followed everywhere by the press. How long would it take for them to figure out who you are? The Statute of Secrecy would be in grave danger."

"But... but..."

"And that's not even the worst of it," Hermione, who was getting her full head of steam, rolled on. "Remember when we went back in time, how I warned you not to interfere with past events? That changing what happened could have horrible consequences? Well, this is just as dangerous. There is a natural logic of things, and you are interfering with it."

"But they don't need to know... do they?" Harry finally managed to interject, his voice unusually wobbly. What if the next movie showed him oggling pictures of Emma Watson on the web? He had discovered Internet cafes this summer, while doing research on Horcruxes. Or more accurately, Hermione had marched him into one, sat him down in front of a computer, and taught him how to 'google' information. It hadn't taken him long to discover that the 'Harry Potter movies,' of which he had heard vague rumors at Hogwarts, were highly popular with the Muggles. The Dursleys had kept mum about them (small wonder, that!). But once he had discovered them, he had spent a considerable amount of time googling Emma instead of the Horcruxes. And yes, there had been some niggling worry that he was being unfaithful to Ginny, but he had told himself quite firmly that he was being an idiot. Everyone fantasized about someone famous, after all. He honestly hadn't expected to meet her in person, but when filming had resumed and the public was allowed to visit the set, he hadn't been able to resist.

"How did you manage to get into the Studios, anyway?" Hermione asked, as if having read his mind.

"Err... they were giving tickets to the public."

"But those tickets must be in very high demand, and given well in advance. How did you get one, when you only left the house this morning?"

"Well, I... It wasn't so difficult, actually," Harry stammered. He was treated to the narrow-eyed stare again and swallowed hard.

"Harry, you didn't!"

"He didn't what?" Ron interjected. He had been very quiet since the Lavender comment, though perhaps his silence was due more to the fact that he still didn't quite understand Muggle movies, despite Hermione's explanations.

"He swiped the ticket from a Muggle," Hermione explained disgustedly.

"You stole it?"

"I didn't steal it, alright?" Harry snapped irritably. "I... I... He remembered he had an urgent appointment and he gave me the ticket."

"He just suddenly remembered... Oh! Way to go, Harry!" Ron crowed, momentarily forgetting his ire. "I'll have to practice my Confundus Charm, too! Just think about it. You see a Muggle buying icecream, wham! A quick spell, and he hands it to you. And you're not stealing, because he gave it to you!"

"Oh, rubbish! It may not technically be stealing, but..."

"There's nothing technical about it, Hermione! If he gives it to you, he gives it to you. I'm surprised wizards haven't thought about this long ago."

"They have," Hermione said sharply. "And about worse than that, too, which is why the Muggle Protection Act was passed. Why don't you ask your father sometime about it? Ask him why he felt it wasn't right for wizards to bait, and rob, and even enslave Muggles. Ask him why it's illegal to use magic like that on powerless people!"

Harry lowered his head as Hermione glared at both boys. His expedition, which had seemed like a breath of fresh air this morning, was beginning to look pretty ugly in this light. Damn those movies, anyway! He wished he'd never let them come into his life.

"I'm sorry," he nearly whispered. "I wasn't thinking when I went there."

"That much is clear," Hermione replied a touch smugly.

"But why did you want to go there in the first place? I mean, you've never met that girl before, right?" Ron asked suspiciously.

He was back to making a pain of himself, Harry thought sourly. And there was no way he would tell Ron about his sessions on the Internet. For one thing, Ron wouldn't even understand what he was talking about. And for another... He glanced briefly at Hermione and settled for a half-truth. "Look, I heard about the movies, alright? And I was just curious to meet a star in person."

"But why, Harry?" Hermione asked in earnest. "You're a celebrity yourself, and you know how you feel about it. Just because Emma has a special talent, and does something different than most people, doesn't mean you should think of her like she's... I don't know... something other than a regular girl! Maybe she enjoys fame, but you don't, so you have no reason to behave like a starstruck idi... boy. After all, you're both stars, in your own way."

For the second time that day, Harry found himself blinking in bewilderement. "Err... I haven't thought about it like this."

"That much is clear," Hermione said crisply, and more than a touch smugly this time. "Now," she clapped her hands, "no harm done as long as you don't see her again. One short interlude will go unobserved by the Muggles. It's not like they show everything we do. For example, I brush my teeth every day, but you never see Emma doing it in the movies. Which is a bit annoying, honestly, because my Mum and Dad are always questionning me about it. They've gotten it into their heads that if Emma doesn't do it, I don't do it!"

"So it's like... like there's a link between you and her?" Ron frowned, trying to understand.

Hermione snorted. "That's what my parents seem to think, anyway. Well, I mean, of course there is a link. She has to act what I do, or at least most of what I do. And maybe sometimes I, too, am influenced by the way she portrays me, I don't know - Lately I've been feeling like I'm trying to live up to the way she sees me - Well, in a way we all do - I mean, the way people perceive us influences how we act around them, and how we perceive them in return - So I think it's all connected, in the grand scheme of things, just not when it comes to brushing my teeth, but - Harry, how do you feel about it?"

"Huh?" Harry chanced a glance at Ron, who was watching Hermione with his mouth open. OK, so he hadn't followed that rant any better than him. "How do I feel about what?"

"About all of it," Hermione snapped impatiently. "About having an actor portray you on the screen, about maybe making you seem smarter, or braver than you are. I know you already handle a lot of pressure, Harry, and I really admire you for it, but.... Don't these movies scare you a little?"

"No," Harry said firmly. "They don't scare me, they make me angry. It's not fair that I can't have a crush on a girl without everyone knowing about it. This summer they showed me kissing Cho, now they're filming about me and Ginny, and a year from now they might hire an actress to portray Emma."

"A-HA!" Ron shouted. "So you admit you have a crush on Emma."

"No, I don't!" Harry said quickly.

"You just said they show the girls you have a crush on. And Hermione said there was a link between us and the movies - " here Ron sounded unsure, since he still hadn't quite grasped what these movies were, let alone how that strange connection thingy worked. Hermione was probably the only person in the world who understood it. "So what I want to know, Potter..."

"Oh, stop it!" Harry interrupted contemptuously. "You sound like a broken record - and no, I won't explain to you what a record is, Weasley! But if it will shut you up, fine, I'll tell you what you want to know. I got this close to Emma," he held his arms about a meter apart, "and we shook hands and talked and had a good time. And yes, I liked her a lot, and maybe even had a little crush on her, though maybe that was just because she's famous. But I didn't betray Ginny, even though we're not even together now, because she's still the girl I really, really care about. And she wouldn't have been hurt if you lot haven't made such a big deal out of NOTHING!"

As Harry tried to bring his breathing under control, Ron leaned down and glared straight into his eyes.

"What I want to know, Potter," he bit out, "is this: If you have a crush on Emma, does this mean you fancy Hermione?!"

//
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