Chapter 1 : Mr. Eligible
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“Hey Mr. Eligible!” A coworker pounded on the wall of Harry’s cubical.
Harry held a hand up, fighting the urge for it to be a single finger. Why, oh why, did things have to be like this? Witch Weekly had just printed their most eligible bachelor’s list and Harry ranked as number one since his on and off again engagement to Ginny Weasley became officially off six months ago.
Harry propped his chin up on his fist and blew out from his lips. He hated this attention. He hated the type of attention the attention drew from everybody else. They either assumed him an arrogant prat, a male whore or a loser.
Harry blindly threw a piece of unwrapped, sticky candy at the magazine that was hog-pogged on the floor where it landed when Harry threw it in embarrassment. It plinked off of the wall and plittered onto the publication.
“Hey, hey! It’s the Mr. Sexiest Man in England!” Another slam and whoop of manliness met Harry’s cubical wall, only to be met with a small groan from the pit of Harry’s throat as he let his head slam back down on the desk.
Harry groaned again hoping to ignore whoever it was that was trying to engage him in conversation.
“Harry,” a small hand rested on his head and Harry looked up to see his best friend Hermione’s eyes looking into his. “Let’s go to lunch.”
Hermione led him down the winding hallways of the Ministry offices, her bright green Healer robes practically glowing against the neutral walls. Harry lowered his head and made sure not to look anyone in the eyes as all the women were sending flirtatious looks towards him and un-understanding winks from the men.
Hermione pulled him into the elevator and closed the grates and punched the number for the cafeteria. “How’re you feeling?”
“I want to disappear into an unknown tribe of nomads in Sweden, grow a beard and hope everybody can forget this horrible day and horrible fate that blasted magazine has put me with.”
When the soft beep indicated their arrival at the cafeteria floor, Harry jerked the grates open and led the two of them out. They fixed their plates silently and grabbed a small table in the corner.
“At least it was a good picture of you,” Hermione tried again as she picked at her salad.
“Why do they continue to do this to me?” Harry started again. “After the war was over, I asked the press to leave me alone and for the most part they did until Ginny pulled her stunt and the circus started all over again. I don’t understand this. Do they not realize that I am a real person with a real job and their constant gossip is more damaging than they realize?”
Hermione nodded, not wanting to interrupt Harry during his rant. “I understand that Harry. You’re a grown man now, not a little boy hiding behind Dumbledore. You’re an auror now and you require a certain amount of privacy with that title.”
Harry scoffed, “Yeah and for the past two months, all they let me do is paperwork. I haven’t even been in the field at all lately. It’s too much of a risk you know. Ugh,” Harry threw his fork down. “I can’t even eat now. I hate this.”
Hermione gave him a small sympathetic smile. “Do you want to come over tonight?”
Harry shook his head, “No. As much as I want to see baby boy Krum and spent time with you lot, I just want to be alone tonight. I may go into muggle London and have a drink or two then get started on my piles of paperwork because that is all I’m good for now apparently.”
“Don’t be bitter Harry. Things will slow back down and get to normal soon.”
Harry bit his tongue. “I’m just ready to move on with my life. I want to move on. I want to get to that next level. I’m almost thirty Hermione and what do I have? A flat and my face on a magazine and that’s it. I want to be married, I’m at that point and Ginny threw it in my face.” Harry stabbed his sandwich and pursed his lips.
“Have you talked to Ron today?” Hermione asked gently.
“No,” Harry shook his head, “I heard there was a misunderstanding of some sort between the German and the Welsh Quidditch teams and he’s been fire calling and flooing all over the world today trying to fix it. Probably won’t see him until tomorrow at the earliest.”
Hermione checked her tiny gold watch. “I have to get back to the hospital. Be careful tonight, okay?”
Harry entered a popular after work watering hole for London employees called the Dizzy Dragon. The lights weren’t too dim and the bar was well stocked, perfect for Harry.
“What can I get you love?” A feminine male bartender asked Harry as he took an empty leather stool.
“Crown and coke,”
“Blue raspberry martini,”
Harry looked over his shoulder to see a petite woman dressed in designer labels reaching out to take her martini. “Sorry,” she said as she took a light sip.
“It’s okay,” Harry took his drink from the bartender and noticed the martini woman sitting down on the zebra print stool next to him. “Come here often?”
The woman shrugged and nodded, “Sometimes. I work a block away so it’s the most convenient. I’m Kate,” she held out her hand politely.
“Harry,” he took her hand in hers and shook it lightly.
“Nice to meet you Harry,” Kate swirled her cherry speared pick in her blue drink. “Work around here?”
“Kind of. What do you do?” More people were starting to hover around the bar and Kate scooted a little closer to Harry so she could talk to him.
“I’m a writer for Glitz magazine. Have you heard of it?” She peered at him with blue eyes, intensified by her blue martini she was taking a sip of.
Harry copied her by looking at her as he drank. He could swear he saw a faint blush on her cheeks. “I can honestly say I have never heard of it. Of course, it doesn’t exactly sound like my kind of magazine either.”
“I didn’t think it would be,” Kate laughed. “So what do you do Harry?”
“Uh, if I told you, I’d have to kill you,” Harry laughed at her slightly worried look. “I work for the government in national security and all.”
“Oh, so you keep me safe,” Kate crossed her trendy tight covered legs. “I feel safer all ready.”
Harry smiled and noticed they were both low on their drinks. “Let me buy you your next drink Kate.”
“And I’ll buy you the next drink.”