Harry regained consciousness slowly, shaking his head. He felt... strange. Where was he?
He blinked his eyes into focus. Someone was kneeling in front of him, and a few feet away, Hermione -- was it Hermione? -- was starting to pull herself up from the floor onto her elbows. Beyond her was what looked like the Forbidden Forest, although not a part he knew.
Something didn't sit right. If he was in the forest, why was he -- were they -- on a floor?
"Dan?" said the man kneeling before him. Another man was helping Hermione -- Harry blinked; what seemed odd about Hermione? -- to her feet. "Dan, are you all right?"
"'S Harry," mumbled Harry, looking back at the man, who held out a hand to help him up.
"Pardon?" the man said, swinging Harry slightly around as he clambered to his feet.
"The name," said Harry. "It's Harry."
The man raised an eyebrow. "You're deciding to go Method now?"
Harry looked quizzically at him. "Method? Wha--"
And then he noticed that, behind the man, the forest simply stopped, almost in a line, and behind it was a was scaffolding and lights, and, as Harry turned further, looking past a familiar, tall, ginger-haired shape, a full camera crew. As his mouth dropped open, he heard Hermione's voice -- but, again, slightly strange sounding -- snap, "Honestly! These people are working awfully hard, so they don't need you clowning around, Dan!"
Harry turned back toward her, and started with a kind of shock of simultaneous recognition and non-recognition. It was Hermione. Sort of. Her hair was more wavy than bushy, and her features were beautiful in a way that made the Hermione he'd known for six and a half years seem like... A rough draft, perhaps. This Hermione was all clean lines and smooth plains and curves that belonged to a magazine, not real life. This is what Ron sees, he thought. For her attitude, her body language -- the akimbo elbow here, the thrusting jaw and piercing, significant stare into his eyes, trying to communicate by sheer force of will: Those were pure Hermione.
He heard a gasp behind him, familiar, and turned to look at Ron, wondering what he'd make of--
But it was there with Ron, too. He looked right, somehow, beyond the red hair and the freckles and the mercurial blue eyes. Like a police artist's sketch of Ron, perhaps. Except that, like Hermione, he somehow both was and wasn't him.
Not-Ron was staring at Not-Hermione, both awed and troubled. He glanced at Harry and nodded, to himself, still frowning.
Not-Hermione's voice was speaking behind Harry, approaching rapidly. "We're going to need to sit down for a few minutes," she was saying, and she took hold of Harry's arm, and pulled him toward Not-Ron. "Come on, Dan," she said, and hissed, under her breath, "For God's sake, Harry, look at their shirts!"
He glanced at the man who'd help him up again, nodded with a slight smile, then stumbled and almost fell. The man was wearing jeans, and a black T-Shirt with a logo on it, that read, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
He stared back at Not-Hermione, who glared at him again with raised eyebrows, as she tilted her head at Not-Ron, and gestured toward three canvas chairs that sat side-by-side just off the set. Harry's mind spun quickly. The movie set. Because that was what this was: a movie set.
He looked at her again. "Her--"
She squeezed his arm, and tossed her head toward the chairs again, scowling and gesturing with her eyes. Harry took a second look as they were approaching the chairs. There were names stenciled on the canvas backs: The Center chair bore the name "Daniel Radcliffe," and she steered him towards it, as she sat beside it in the chair marked "Emma Watson." Not-Ron -- Oh, Hell, Harry thought, these had to be Ron and Hermione, somehow -- raised his eyebrows slightly, regarding the other chair, and silently mouthed, with a disbelieving expression, Rupert Grint? He looked from Harry to Hermione, eyes widening, as he sat carefully on the canvas seat.
A kindly looking, round-faced man with a receding hairline trotted toward them, pulling down the hem of his navy-blue jumper. "Rupert, Dan, Em, what happened? Are you all right?"
"It's all right, David," said Hermione quietly.
Harry swung around to stare at her. David?
"I don't think so, Em," David said, kindly. "The three of you just-- Collapsed! I think we'd better get the studio Doctor."
Hermione's eyes -- Emma's eyes? -- widened, and she stared hard into David's eyes. "No, David," she said firmly. "That won't be necessary."
"That won't be necessary," David said, quietly.
"We should just go and rest in my caravan for a while," she told him.
"You three should go rest in Emma's caravan for awhile." David murmured.
Harry stared at Hermione. Her gaze was locked on David's.
"Perhaps we should wrap for the afternoon, and start fresh in the morning," she instructed him.
"In fact," David said, "I think we'll wrap for the afternoon, and get a fresh start in the morning." He stared into Hermione's eyes for a moment more, then suddenly stood up, and turned toward the crew. "Electrical, I'd like you to give the set a thorough going-over. Make sure that the kids didn't get a shock of some sort..."
Hermione smiled at Harry as David walked away. "These are not the droids you're looking for," she said.
Harry goggled at her. "What the hell did that mean?"
She raised an eyebrow at him. "The Dursleys really kept you under their thumbs, didn't they?"
She stood and gestured with her head. "Follow me, boys," she said, and led them toward a line of motor homes parked incongruously inside the large building, along one wall. Harry could barely see her pausing to read the name-plaques on the doors of the caravans, and she confidently opened the door of one, and gestured to her friends. "Well, come on in."
They stepped up into the caravan, and Harry's eyes widened. It was luxuriously appointed, with a large TV, and beautiful furnishings, but it still felt comfortable, like someone could relax and enjoy themselves here. Harry liked it.
"Merlin!" said a voice behind him, that both was and wasn't Ron's. "This ain't half-posh, is it?" The tall, red-haired boy stepped past Harry, grinning. "That was bloody brilliant!" he told Hermione. "How did you do that? You didn't even touch your wand!"
"It's just a stick, Ronald," she said dismissively. "The magic isn't in the wand, it's in the witch!" She closed her eyes for a moment. "Hard to focus like that, though," she murmured. "I think I'm getting a headache."
Ron's smile faltered, and he reached with concern, tracing feather-light fingers along her cheekbone. Hermione smiled gratefully at him, but he bit his lip, smile gone now, and looked away.
Harry smiled as he watched the interplay. I might as well be in Outer Mongolia, he thought. They have a place where no-one else can go.
Hermione had turned Ron back toward her. "What is it, Ron?"
"You're just... different," he said quietly. "I mean, you're beautiful and all, but..." He shrugged. "I l-- I like you you."
She looked back and forth between Ron and Harry. "Yes," she said. "I see what you mean." She reached a hand up, touched her cheek where Ron had touched her. "What do I look like..."
"Hermione!" Harry cried.
She looked over at him. "Yes, Harry?"
"What the hell is going on?" he asked. "Where are we?"
Ron grinned. "That's a fairly good question, mate."
"Well, I should have thought that was obvious," Hermione said primly. "We're on a film set."
Harry opened his mouth to speak, but she cut off his sarcastic retort. "In another world, I should think." She looked at Harry. "What's the last thing you remember, before..." —she gestured with her head— "this?"
Harry thought. "We were in the attic, at Headquarters. Going through the stuff the Blacks had stored there."
"Yeah," Ron chimed in. "That old woman was certainly the sort to hold onto some artifact of Ravenclaw's or Slytherin's." He thought a moment. "We were reaching for that weird thing, with the..."
Hermione nodded. "I think that was some kind of... I don't know. I don't know if there's a word for it. Like an interdimensional, spiritual Portkey, I suppose."
Harry's eyes widened. "So, when we touched it, it brought us here... And them, there?"
"I think so," said Hermione. "I hope they're OK. They have to be pretty scared and confused, all alone in Grimmauld Place."
Ron shook his head. "How the bloody hell did you figure all this out?"
"Honestly, Ron, do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Anyway, it's hardly Advanced Arithmancy, is it? When there are lights and cameras and a film crew pointed at a mock-up of a forest inside a building, it's a pretty good guess that it's a film set, isn't it? And you two look an awful lot like you two, and half the crew was wearing those shirts, so I knew it was a movie about you, Harry, and wizards don't make movies, and Muggles wouldn't know enough to make one about you, and you were both obviously confused and didn't know where you were, just like me, so I knew we had to have been transported somewhere. Some... Other world, some alternate universe, like in Science Fiction, where we're just characters in some movie."
Ron and Harry exchanged a quick glance, eyes wide.
"You really are the brightest witch of your age," breathed Ron, almost reverently.
Hermione blushed, embarrassment and pride lighting her features. "Well, anyway, that man told me your name, Harry -- I mean, Dan -- and it was pretty obvious that those three chairs were for us, because we're the stars of the movie--" Harry raised an amused eyebrow at her, and she blushed again. "Well, honestly, it's not like I'm full of myself. If your name is in the title, it's about you, isn't it? And how could they make a movie about you that wasn't almost as much about us?"
Harry smiled again.
"So the chairs had names on," Hermione continued, "and only one 'Dan,' and of course, I wouldn't be a Rupert, would I, so now we had names."
Harry nodded, proud and amused. "And 'David'?" he prompted.
She looked at him as if he were thick. "David Yates," she said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "The film director. He directed The Girl in the Cafe, the most wonderful movie, all about poverty and starvation in Africa, and the G8 summit."
"Sorry, Hermione," said Harry, "I'm not much of one for documentaries."
She glared at him. "It's a romantic comedy."
Harry and Ron stared at her, open-mouthed.
Hermione flushed, not at all certain why she found that embarrassing. "Well, anyway, we're going to need to do some research. Let's see if Emma has a computer."
She turned and walked back through the caravan, and stopped suddenly, eyes wide.
Harry looked puzzled, until he saw where she was staring: at a full-length mirror on the wall.
"Oh, my God," she breathed, eyes wide. She put a hand to her face, staring at the reflection, and then turned to look back at them -- at Ron. "Did--" she faltered, looked at her feet for a moment, then back up at Ron, her eyes bright. "Ron, what you said before, did... Did you..."
He stepped past Harry, put hand out to her arm. "Yeah, `Mione. I reckon... I reckon that you're already beautiful. You always have been. This Emma's very lovely and all, but... It's not an improvement. Not really. I—" He glanced in the mirror, then tilted his head with a lop-sided smile. "That's no so bad, then," he chuckled, smiling his lopsided smile through unfamiliar lips. "Nose is a little short, I reckon..."
Hermione laughed, and gave his chest a push.
Harry stepped over and looked at himself: Radcliffe was taller than he was, longer limbed, his face a little fuller, jaw a little squarer. He felt a bit like Harpo Marx doing the mirror routine he'd seen part of on the Dursley's TV once, as if Radcliffe would somehow slip, in the mirror, and Harry would catch him out in a wrong movement.
"Whatcha think, mate?" asked Ron.
Harry shrugged. "Could be worse, I guess. I dunno, it's weird."
Hermione smiled again, and turned back toward the back of the trailer. There was a divider, then a smallish bedroom, with a twin-sized bed, and a student desk with a computer on it. There were various papers and books on the desk, as well. An open door beyond showed a bathroom.
Hermione went to the desk and started the computer.
"What is that thing," asked Ron, as she sat down. "Some kind of a telly?"
"It's a computer, Ron," said Harry.
"What's that when it's at home, then?"
"It's, well...." Harry thought for a minute, trying to figure out how to describe it Ron. "It's a machine that holds information, and most of them can talk to other computers through phone lines. That way, all these different computers can share information."
Ron looked sagely at him for a moment. "You do realize that I have no idea what you just said."
Hermione looked up in irritation. "It's a magic box that knows a lot of answers, Ron."
"But Muggles can't use magic!" Ron replied, aggrieved.
"They use electricity instead."
"Oh." Ron considered a moment. "All right then!"
The computer had finally finished booting up, with an annoying musical tone, and Hermione turned to it. "Now, let's find a web browser... Huh! No Internet Explorer! You use Opera!" She looked at the actress's face in the mirror. "Good girl, Emma!"
Harry and Ron crowded behind her as she clicked, and the screen displayed something called "Google."
"What's a google?" Ron asked.
"Dunno," said Harry.
Hermione shot him a slightly exasperated look.
"Hey, you think the Dursleys would let me touch ickle Didikins' computer?"
She shrugged, "Good point." She moved the mouse on the desk, and turned to the boys. "Google is a search engine. It looks for answers. I'm going to have it look for any mention of you, Harry. Ron, I'm going to have you follow up on this once it's started."
The tips of Ron's ears started turning red. "You want me to work the com-- Com-- Compupiter?"
Hermione smiled at him. "I'll show you how, Ron. It's really pretty easy."
"But why can't you do it?"
Hermione pointed to a bookshelf next to the bed. "I'm going to be reading those."
Harry turned to follow her pointing finger, and drew in a breath. Side by side on the shelf were six colorful hardcover books. Each title began with "Harry Potter and."
"Oh, my God!" He picked the books up, glanced at the covers.
"Philospher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban-- That's got to be about Sirius! -- Goblet of Fire's got to be about the Triwizard Tournament, then... It's like one book for every year at Hogwarts!" He looked over at Hermione. "This is my life, Hermione! I can't believe this! People died, don't they know that?"
One step brought her to him, and she put her arms around him, squeezed him tight. It was so damned unfair. All he'd been through, all he'd suffered -- all served up for someone's entertainment. She looked at the colorful covers. For children's entertainment, at that! "I'm so sorry, Harry. But we have to know what we are in this world. We have to know what it all means."
Harry bit his lip for a moment. It was more than two years since Cedric Diggory, more that one since Sirius Black. Dumbledore had perished only a few weeks ago. It was all still so fresh.
Ron moved over to him, reached past Hermione to squeeze his shoulder, as he looked down at the books in Harry's hands. "They're for kids," he murmured, softly. He looked up at Harry, his lips quirked into something like a smile. "I know it hurts, mate, but it's not all been bad, has it? From the Dursley's cupboard to the Quidditch pitch? We've had our share of fun, too. These are for kids, Harry. Some of them living in cupboards of their own, just as bad as the Dursleys'. Wouldn't you like to be able to take some of them out for a fly on your broom?"
Harry and Hermione stared at him for a long moment, eyes wide.
"Good grief!" Hermione breathed. "That was..."
Ron looked back and forth between them. "What? I'm not allowed to have a thought every now and again?"
Harry grinned at his friend then, seeing nothing but Ron, behind this Rupert fellow's face. "You're a bloody miracle, Ron. You're magic on two feet, and don't let anybody tell you different."
Hermione reached one arm away from Harry, and gathered Ron into the embrace. The stood together like that for a long moment, taking strength and life from the union, and then Hermione let go and backed up a step.
"Sit down in front of the computer, Ron, and I'll tell you what to do. Harry, do you think you can read the first three books? I'll take the last three."
Harry had finished his three books long before Hermione. He normally wasn’t such a fast reader, but these were different. These were his life, and somehow his eyes skimmed along the page and drew it all in, just a couple of seconds for each page. Hermione was going just about as quickly, but her three were much thicker. Part of Harry wanted to volunteer to relieve her of one of the books, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Instead, he busied himself putting wards on the doors of the caravan, and a glamor to make it appear empty to anyone looking from outside. At one point, he saw David, the director, approach that caravan with a puzzled expression on his face. Harry thought back to Hermione's example, and drew in his concentration, staring through the glass at Yates. "We've left for the day," he murmured. "After our little fainting spell, you thought we needed rest, so we went home. We're gone now, safe in our beds."
Yates stared for a moment more at the Caravan, then shrugged, and walked away. Harry put a hand to his head, which was pulsing now with a dull ache. Even with a wand, that would have been difficult. Without one, it was exhausting.
He walked back into the little bedroom, rubbing his forehead with his fingertips, and saw Hermione quickly closing the second-to-last book with tears in her eyes.
"Oh, Harry," she breathed. "You know it wasn't your fault, don't you?"
He met her eyes. "It really was, Hermione. I didn't mean any harm, and I didn't want to see anyone hurt, but all of what happened--" He pointed at her chest. "Dolohov, Ron's brains, Ginny's ankle, Luna, Neville--" He stopped for a moment, drew a ragged breath. "Sirius," he finally said. "It all happened because my curiosity and my dislike of Snape mattered more to me than anything else. I was selfish, and irresponsible, and the people I love most in the world suffered and died for it."
Ron, who had been quietly following links, after a frantic half-hour of instruction by Hermione, turned back toward them. "Oh, blimey, mate, you can't put all that on yourself!"
"Yeah, I can, Ron. It doesn't mean I blame them any less. It's still on Lestrange, and Dolohov, and Malfoy and the rest. It's still on Voldemort. Hell, even Professor Dumbledore deserves some of the blame. But I have to carry this weight. I did this. If I don't accept it, don't learn from it, then you got those--" he pointed at Rupert's smooth skin, and both knew he was indicating the runnelled scars on Ron's forearms "--for nothing. And I won't have that, Ron. I won't have it!"
He sank down to the edge of the bed, beside Hermione, and they shared a silent moment.
"And I'll tell you something else," he said quietly. "I think I could have said one thing, once, that might -- just might -- have saved Dumbledore's life."
Hermione stared at him. "Harry, what are you talking about?"
Harry pointed at the closed book on her lap. "You read about why Snape ended the Occlumency lessons?"
She bit her lower lip, and nodded.
"What are you talking about, Harry?" asked Ron.
Harry looked down at the floor of the caravan. "When Snape was teaching me--"
"Assaulting you, more like!" spat Hermione.
"He took some of his memories, and put them in a Pensieve, so that if I managed to push back, I wouldn't see them. Once, when he left the room, I... I looked at one. It was my father, tormenting Snape, when they were our age. Humiliating him, just for the fun of it. Just to give Sirius a laugh. It was horrible. Worse than anything Draco Malfoy ever tried with us.
"Snape caught me. He was livid, of course. That ended the Occlumency lessons then and there."
He looked at his feet.
"What does that have to do with him killing Dumbledore?" asked Ron.
"It doesn't," Harry said. "Not really. But there's something I should have said, then. And sometimes I think that everything else might have been different if I'd said it."
Hermione reached over, and touched his shoulder. "What, Harry? What could you have possibly said?"
Harry stared down for a long time, working his mouth silently, before finally looking up. "I'm not my father," he said, and all three understood that he was speaking to the absent Snape of two years past. "And I'm ashamed of what he did to you."
Hermione smiled sadly. "I'm sorry you couldn't have told him that, Harry. I don't think it would have made a difference, not to him, but that's one weight you don't have to carry."
She leaned over and kissed his cheek, and then sat back, picking up the last book. As she turned, she saw Ron watching her, his ears red, expression distant, and she flushed, and looked down at the book. She knew what he was thinking of course. It was so easy, with Harry. There was no thought and no effort for her to touch him, to hold him, to kiss him. Could she ever be that easy with Ron? She looked back up, met his gaze, her lip pulled in between her teeth. Did he understand that her ease, her physical comfort with Harry, was because the stakes were so low?
Ron smiled at her, and turned back toward the computer, and she opened the book and started reading.
Harry stood again, and walked back to the other room. "I think I saw DVDs," he said.
Harry looked at the large TV, and, sure enough, there were four DVDs, beside it, titled the same as the first four books. He looked at the covers, young Dan and Emma and Rupert looking back at him from the fronts. What strange lives those kids must lead, he thought. He'd been about half-way through Book Two when Ron had looked up from the computer to tell him that Radcliffe was, as a result of playing him, one of the richest men in England. It made the world of wizarding seem ordinary by comparison.
With a shrug, he fed the discs into the DVD changer -- the Dursleys had never let him touch theirs, of course, but he had seen how it operated -- and started watching the first movie.
He found himself fast-forwarding a lot, which surprised him. At first he'd been fascinated watching these kids who weren't quite himself, nor Ron, nor Hermione, re-tracing his experiences so exactly. But after a while, it became clear that he wasn't learning anything from them: just seeing slightly distorted versions of his own memory. He'd just started the third film -- the new actor playing Dumbledore was something of a shock -- when he heard Hermione shriek from the other room.
He was on his feet in a heartbeat, and around the divider. Hermione was leaning over Ron's shoulder, eyes wide, face red -- as was Ron's, he realized -- one fisted hand over her mouth. "In the name of God, Ron, what did you click!?!?"
"I-- I--" Ron shook his head. "Something called 'fic,'" he said. "As near as I can tell, that means stories. There's an awful lot of 'em."
"What's the matter?" asked Harry.
"And you just happened to click on that one?" Hermione snapped, ignoring Harry. "What a coincidence!"
"I've clicked on about a dozen of them, `Mione!" Ron objected. "This is just the first one about you and--" He interrupted himself, eyes widening as he read. "Merlin, can girls do that?!"
"No, they can't!" Hermione snapped, slapping his hand away from the mouse. She leaned across him to click the 'Back' button, and Ron's eyes widened as parts of her pressed against his shoulder, and she suddenly realized it, and shrunk away from him as if he were radioactive.
Harry was baffled. "What are you on about? You found stories? About you two?"
Ron nodded, looking mortified.
"Oh, for Pete's sake, you two, suck it up! You've got some stories! I've just found out I'm a minor industry! I'm whole books and movies and everything!"
"But, Harry," Ron said, pointing vaguely behind him at the computer screen. "You were just doing the stuff you've really done. We were sh--"
"Shut it, Ron!" roared Hermione, her face still flushed.
Harry looked back and forth between them, light dawning. "You mean--"
"Shut it, Harry!" roared Ron and Hermione in unison.
Harry snickered. "That's hysterical!" he crowed. "That's great!" He looked back and forth between his two friends, grinning widely. "You know, I've always thought you two made a great couple!"
"Oh, sod off!" cried Hermione, looking away from him.
As Harry goggled at her, Ron shrugged and turned back to the computer. "Not as good as you and Draco Malfoy, mate."
Harry looked over at Ron, the smile dropping from his face with an audible thump. "Say what!?"
"Oh, yeah," said Ron, with studied casualness, as Hermione's eyes widened, and she started to giggle. "You two crazy lovebirds have, like, whole websites dedicated to you."
Hermione leaned forward. "Really," she said. "I have to say, Ron, you've proven an admirably quick study with the Internet." She reached across him again, pressing as before on his shoulder, but now that they had Harry in their cross-hairs, neither gave it a thought. Hermione pointed past him at a line on the screen. "Oooh, click that one! That one looks interesting!"
"`Mione, please! I have to eat sometime!"
"OK," agreed Hermione. "Good point."
"Lord God," said Harry, covering his face with his hands.
Hermione smirked a moment longer, then reached out and touched Ron's shoulder. "Honestly, Ron," she said softly. "I think that's enough. If you've gotten down into that, I think you're past the point of finding anything useful. Let's go watch DVDs with Harry. I'm kind of interested to see Emma being me."
The went back in to sit in front of the TV set. The DVD changer had continued its automated duties in Harry's absence, and had apparently gone over to the fourth movie. On the screen, a terrified-looking Rupert/Ron was dancing with a severe-faced woman who Ron realized with a start was meant to be McGonagall.
Ron's mouth dropped open.
"Oh," said Hermione, brightly. "That's Maggie Smith! She's just the most amazing actress."
Ron ignored her, finally finding his voice while staring at the screen. "Oi! That never happened! Mum taught me to dance!"
The TV McGonagall turn and stared out of the screen at them. "Mr. Weasley, if you don't mind, it's very inconsiderate to shout and expostulate during a film!"
Ron looked down. "I'm sorry prof-- Hey!"
McGonagall looked back and forth between the three of them from the screen. "Well, I must say, it's a fair bit of trouble you three have put us to today! Those three children were quite frightened, you know."
"We're sorry Professor," said Hermione. "We didn't do it on purpose!"
McGonagall's face softened. "I know, child. Still, it's time, now, to put it to rights. You'll need to stand up please, side by side, facing me."
The headmistress regarded them as they clambered to their feet. The hint of a smile played with her lips, as she looked them up and down. "I must say, as casting goes, they're to be congratulated." She turned back to the cast of Gryffindor impersonators behind her. "Messrs Radcliffe and Grint, if you'd step over here, please? The rest of you are dismissed. Please send in Miss Watson."
Harry and Hermione and Ron watched as the characters stood and left the screen, and the actors playing Harry and Ron stepped up beside McGonagall. As they did, their faces seemed to soften and flow, and when they came to her side, they were recognizable, not as the actors, but as Harry and Ron. Hermione had entered from one side, and joined them.
McGonagall clapped her hands twice. "Youngsters, please line up, facing one another. No, no, Mr. Grint, facing your alter-egos, if you please. Thank you."
She looked at her three charges, and then out of the screen at the three of them again.
"Now, this is magic that takes a few seconds to work. As it does so, you'll begin to feel sensations and even motions from your own bodies again. There will be a transition with a certain amount of tension as you transmigrate. That is because, for a time, both bodies will be 'your' bodies. If one of you moves, so will your counterpart. This is normal, so please do not be alarmed."
All six young people nodded. McGonagall drew her wand, and made several passes with it, both towards the three young people beside her, and the three outside the screen.
Harry felt the faintest of tingles, and Radcliffe looked at him, seeming to make up his mind. "I understand," he said suddenly, to Harry. McGonagall looked over at him surprised, but said nothing. Radcliffe still looked steadily at him. "It's not all some grand adventure. It's sadness and terror and death. But I believe in you. You can win out over the darkness. You will have a life beyond Voldemort."
Emma Watson nodded in agreement, and Hermione felt the slightest of pressure in her neck and jaw. "It's true," Watson said, to her. She felt her mouth subvocalizing the words. "Oh, Hermione, you should have more faith in yourself. You're smart and brave and funny, and you know so much. Don't be afraid! Don't look to teachers and parents and others for validation. Believe in yourself!"
"You too," said Grint to Ron. "You're not just some sidekick. You've faced giant spiders and evil brains and Death Eaters and Snape! Have some faith in yourself, and tell her the truth. Tell her how you feel. She loves you, mate. Don't stuff it up."
At those words Ron looked uncomfortably at his shoes, and so did Grint, as Hermione and Watson both flushed identically.
"It will go more quickly now," said McGonagall.
Watson forced herself, looked up, saw Ron looking at his feet, and Hermione fighting to turn away from him.
"Oh, hell," said Emma, and with a supreme effort, reached over, and grabbed Rupert by Ron Weasley's lapels, and pulled him to her. The last thing she saw as she drew his open mouth down onto hers was Rupert's expression of shock in Ron Weasley's cobalt-blue eyes. She shut her own eyes, and drew his tongue to her, and the universe exploded in colors she couldn't identify.
Rupert pulled quickly away from her, and nearly tripped over the settee and Dan's quick, sure hands caught him before he fell. "What the hell, Em!?"
Emma Watson flushed madly as she looked around her caravan. On the big-screen TV, the "Yule Brawl" scene was starting. She was very proud of that scene, but now she barely noticed it. "For Heaven's sake, Rupert, you're an actor. It's hardly the last time you're going to have to snog a girl you don't fancy! I'm sorry if it grossed you out or something!"
"Oh, hell, Em, it's not that. You just surprised me is all. What was that about?"
Dan watched her closely, as interested in the answer as his ginger-haired friend.
Emma scowled at them. "You saw them! They were too afraid to listen to us. God only knows how long it would have taken them to... You know..."
Dan smiled. "You gave them a head start! That's Brilliant, Em!"
Rupert reached up and touched his lips, a half-smile playing with the corners. He looked at Emma for a long moment, and the flush climbed back into her face again.
Dan smirked at them. "Hell, Em," he said. "I just wish you shipped H/Hr!"
"Oh, sod off!" Emma told him.
The three actors jumped, and looked back at the TV set. Maggie Smith's face was staring out at them again. "Miss Watson, that was an extremely naughty trick you played!" The voice, like the face, was Maggie's, but the twinkle in her eyes was McGonagall's. "And we all thank you for it. Good-bye!"
And with that, the TV shut off.
The three young actors looked at each other for a long moment, and then shrugged, and walked to the door. It was late, and they had a long day of filming ahead of them.
As she shut the door of her caravan, Emma reached up and touched her lips, watching Rupert's back as he stretched, and said something to Dan, who laughed. She smiled and walked off behind them toward home.
"Oh my God, no, no chance, no chance. That's not in my contract!"
- Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson, on kissing her co-stars.
Big thanks to John Carter, as fine a beta as I could ask for.
Standard disclaimers apply.
All of the characters in this story are entirely fictional. While some have been deliberately crafted to resemble real-world people, that resemblance is only superficial. Their behavior, attitudes, and actions have no bearing on any real people, living or dead, especially very talented teenagers who have more than enough to deal with what with abnormal fame and wealth without Internet fanboys projecting their fantasies about their characters onto them as real, living human beings. Plot mechanics notwithstanding.