Disclaimer: I don't own anything Potter related. Except books. And movies. And some fanart. And, you know, a bunch of word documents full of fanfiction...OK, so I own some Potter related things, but not the stuff that makes you money.
LightofEvolution for the usual: Cheerleading, commas, 'hey that word is fucked up'...all that. I don't know how I ever did this without you.
In Dreams for creating an aesthetic at the drop of a hat and being super positive and making me do word sprints!
Serena for lovely encouragement to go forward with this fluffly short story.
And super quick shout out to Olivieblake who coined "cunnilatio" as a word and I now use it more often than is probably necessary.
"Alright, Ladies..." Draco Malfoy rubs his hands together in anticipatory excitement.
"I object to that term." The table looks sideways at Theo Nott, leaned back in his chair and scowling at their Mortgage Master.
"I object to you objecting, Nott. In fact, I object to 'Ladies' being used as derogatory humour. If Draco said 'boys' and tossed me in with the lot of you, no one would say a word." Pansy Parkinson crosses her arms and levels Theo with a glare.
Draco takes in his bevy of snakes and sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Already?" he laments. "We haven't even started yet. Are we going to debate the patriarchy all night?"
"No," Pansy pouts. "I want to make it to the 'Shopper's Mall' before we all die."
Draco nods and moves the group along. "Very well then. Blaise, care to give us a recount before we begin?"
Blaise sits up and assumes his role, taking his label as the 'secretary' of the group very seriously. He adjusts the lens-less glasses on the bridge of his nose that he insists on wearing for effect and reads from his last session notes. "Teddy managed to secure a 'vehicle'," he uses his fingers to draw quotes in the air around the words unfamiliar to the crew of purebloods, "with the 'dollars' he acquired from his position at answering 'tellyphone calls'-"
"It's telephone," Pansy says and then grumbles, "every fucking week..."
Blaise raises his brow at her and annunciates sarcastically, "tell-uh-fone." He looks at Draco then, hooking his thumb over at the only witch in their midst. "Did you deny her cunnilatio this week or something?"
The blond snorts in return. "I've been denying her everything for two years, Blaise." He waves his hand in a shooing motion at his friend. "Go on then."
"Right...Where was I?... So Teddy has the 'vehicle', I'm waiting in the park for his arrival-"
"What kind of park?" Draco asks, both curious and reminding the group to be detailed. "Car park? Zoological park?"
"No, no... The mundane type. Grass and trees and tables outside. Public."
Pansy wrinkles her nose at the concept of outdoor dining but manages not to comment. Instead, she asks haughtily, "Where am I again?"
Blaise's eyes flit down the parchment in his hands before he finds his place and reminds her, "The 'coffee shoppe'. You just bought us 'latte' and scones."
She nods and makes a note at the top of a clean parchment in front of her.
He goes on, "Drake and Teddy are together in the 'car'. So now," he looks at Nott and Draco, "you two need to fetch me from the park, and then we need to get Pansy."
Draco cracks his knuckles and leans forward. "Shall we begin?" The other three watch as he tosses dice down on the table, rolling over the parchments that hold all the important information they need.
Name: Drake Jones
Occupation: Financial Advisor
Health: 1 (-1 penalty to roll for occupational 'stress')
Tech: 3 (+1 to roll for education level in addition to +3 bonus)
Education Level: University (+3 to check roll)
Current wealth: $112,692
Name: Violet Park
Charisma: 4 (-5 when rolling against certain NPC)
Dexterity: 0 (+1 to roll due to "palates" bonus)
Tech: 0 (-1 penalty to roll for education level)
Education Level: High School (0 to check roll)
Current wealth: $304,817
Name: Blair Bini
Tech: 4 (+1 occupation bonus)
Education Level: Technical College (+1 bonus to check roll)
Current wealth: $43,349
Name: Teddy Smith
Education Level: Technical College (+1 bonus to check roll)
Current Wealth: $5,064
Setting: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Individual starting locations: Prestige Toyota, Starbucks, and Central Park
Teddy sets his new car's gear into reverse and begins to back the vehicle from the lot. Drake occupies the seat to his left-
Blaise groans. "Oh, my dear Merlin, Draco! Could you just let us get on with it?"
Draco purses his lips and explains, "It's a yank game, Blaise. They sit on the wrong side over there. Different from the Night Bus. And anyway, Theo, you need to make a Tech check to be sure you know how to operate it."
Theo waves his hand around, brushing off the whole exchange, then rolls his die. "Thirteen. Plus my Tech of 5, I'm well within the required 9. Can we get started, then?"
Draco, their MM, nods, and they start in earnest.
Drake and Teddy only have a short distance to travel before they reach their friend Blair, navigating traffic easily with Teddy's Tech skills. They find Violet at the bakery, avoiding a Parking Check by utilizing Drake's subterfuge to find a back alley entrance.
It's touch and go when Violet misses a dexterity check, and a scone is lost to the ground, but, having purchased extra, the group of four are able to nourish their bodies with breakfast, adding a temporary +1 to health, and arrive at their destination: The Shopping Mall.
"I'll meet you fools at the entrance in an hour. I'm going to buy an "Armani gown" that gives me a bonus to Charisma."
"Those are expensive," offers her friend Teddy with a frown of disapproval. 'Friend' being a generous word for 'the guy that hangs around her ex-boyfriend', but it's just easy to use a common label.
"Fuck off, Parkinson." Pansy resolutely ignores Theo and continues.
"Pfft. I think I'm alright, Teddy, with my massive wealth total. I hope you enjoy the car you just blew your savings on."
"This car got us to the Shoppers Mall, you know."
She laughs as she prepares to leave the group to their own devices. "Whatever. I could have just called a Taximeter Cab."
"You'll run out of wealth, you know, if you're not careful," Blair warns. "You started with the highest total, but you're not sustaining like we are. Widow is the weakest occupation." She chooses to ignore that bit of wisdom and looks at Drake expectantly for direction.
"The Armani boutique is on the second floor," Drake warns her. There's a freight elevator, but you have to make it past Shopping Mall Security. Your other choice is "Escalating", but that's a roll check."
"Is it tech?" she asks with a grimace.
"No, tech doesn't work that way. It's dex though."
"Oh," she breathes in relief, "that's not so bad. I have that palate bonus."
"Or," Teddy points out, "you might be able to use Charisma past the guard." He wriggles his eyebrows suggestively at her.
"Can she?" Drake asks, seeming to ponder but also to know a secret. "What do you know about the Guard, Teddy? What if it's a woman? Her Charisma has a -5 penalty with hetero females."
Violet eyes him before working out what seems to be a helpful hint, "I think maybe I'll take the Escalation.
They all nod, her part of the round at an end.
"How do you suppose it works? Escalating…"
Draco looks at Theo, lounging so far back in his chair, it's a wonder he doesn't topple over. "Is that your character asking?"
"What? Oh, no. No, I'm just wondering."
"Maybe a sort of Leviosa that runs on their electrical?" Pansy is studying her nails, pretending not to be bothered, but obviously putting some thought into the concept.
"Is there a picture? In the guide?" Blaise leans over the table, trying to get a better look at Draco's MM set up. Their leader is very private about what goes on behind the screen propped on the table that hides his information. A lot of planning goes into these sessions, and he's not about to have the plots, challenges, and mysteries ruined by his nosy companion.
"No," he says, swatting at Zabini's shoulder. "Just a photo of a building with a lot of doors and thousands of vehicles outside. Probably exaggerated, you know, for effect."
Blaise sits back and this topic, like many before it, loses steam when they realize they won't find the answers they seek amongst each other.
Drake turns to Blair and asks, "What about you? What do you need at the mall?"
Blair flips her luxurious hair over her shoulder-
"Salazar, Blaise, you're such a ponce."
"Fuck you, my character a hot. You're just jealous of the sweet reference sketch I made. Look at those tits..."
-and levels her friend with a serious expression. "I'm applying for a position as the Secretary of the Mall. If I make the Charisma check, I'll bonus $20,000 annual wealth."
"Does education count for that?" Teddy wonders.
They look to Drake who confirms with a nod of his head. "It's a double bonus, in fact, so you'll have a plus two."
Blair's bid for new gainful employment is successful as is Violet's quest for a new gown. Teddy says he had nothing to gain from the trip except that his friends all owe him $50 for the use of his car. "Why do you think I bought it? I'm playing the long game."
Ultimately, it's a successful session overall, and the friends put away their parchment, dice, and reference manuals, leaving nothing in the Room of Requirement but four chairs and a bare wooden table.
"Can we plan our next session for Tuesday instead of Wednesday?"
Three sets of eyes roll at Draco, and Theo asks with a sigh, "Quidditch?"
He narrows his eyes in response. "You know, I'm lucky they let me on the house team. I'm the only eighth year on any of them."
"Because our house was decimated by the war, not because you're that special, Malfoy."
"Whatever," he doesn't argue. "Can we change it or not?"
In the end, his friends agree and all slowly make their way from the rooms. It's Saturday night, well past curfew. They always leave separately, a decidedly Slytherin tactic, so, if one of them is caught by Filch or a professor, at least the other three are likely in the clear.
Draco, as the Mortgage Master, is always the last to leave, all of their parchments and paraphernalia safely shrunk and stowed away in a small satchel. They are tucked under a false bottom. He also carries, over the lining that hides their game items, his Transfiguration text and some personal Charms reading. He, if caught, will apologize for losing track of time while studying and proffer the books as evidence of his dedication to his marks.
He's almost in the clear. There is a crossroads where hanging a left takes him away from the usual moving staircases and classroom corridors and leads to the dungeons and nowhere else. He is just rounding that corner, probably no more than the heel of his shoe visible, when he hears a throat clear behind him.
Draco squeezes his eyes shut and counts to five, slipping his aloof facial mask into place and turning back to the other corridor with a charming smile. He has it all rehearsed; the bit about studying late and being distracted by Charms theory and 'oh my, is that the time? I'm dreadfully sorry…'
All of that dies on his tongue when he sees, not a professor, not Filch, not even a Head student, but instead the swottiest of swots: Hermione Granger.
"Oh, it's just you." His mask slips away, and he offers a haughty sniff, looking down the slope of his nose.
"What are you doing out so late, Malfoy?"
The sniff evolving into a full on sneer, he gives her a once over. She's dressed surprisingly well, actually. Not her Hogwarts robes, but not the loose jumpers and muggle denims she favours on Hogsmeade weekends either. She has smart trousers with a wide leg and a perfectly pressed center seam. No placard or pockets, they sport a ladylike side zip. Her cornflower blue blouse is buttoned all the way to her neck and tucked in at the waist, a line of what looks to be quality pearls disappearing under the lapels. He's seen her without her robes on a few occasions and was relatively aware of her shapely figure, but the image she cuts in this smart attire makes him twitch just the tiniest bit. She's equal parts sexy and alluring, as much as she looks authoritative and domineering. It's a good look for her. Unfortunately, seven years of brow beating the young woman has trained him not to be too complimentary.
He ignores her question as to his own whereabouts and comments, "You're looking decidedly less plebian today, Granger. Date with Weasley, was it?"
What starts as an exaggerated roll of eyes ends on her levelling him with a hard look and raised brows. "Firstly," she starts, "I'm a muggleborn, but I was never plebian, Malfoy. My penchant for comfort and less dedication to shallow pursuits should not have been indicative of my social status. My father is the foremost authority of muggle Oral Surgery in Europe. Mother gives seminars on practical dentistry the world over."
Draco isn't entirely sure about the terminology, but, knowing her parents are teeth healers, he assumes this to mean they are masters in their field.
"Secondly, if I had a date with Ronald, I sure as hell wouldn't wear my Armani trousers. He would likely cock up the zip trying to rush to the sexual finish line."
Somehow he holds back the snicker he would almost like to share at Weasley's expense.
"Thirdly, there would be no date with Ronald because we broke up weeks ago."
That's news to him. But, then again, Draco has been keeping to himself this year, steadfastly ignoring most of the student body. They all hate him anyway; this one included, he's sure. No one seems to think his being coerced into the war is an excuse for his bullying behavior for their first five years of education. If he's honest, that's probably a fair assessment. He was a right little shit to nearly everyone. Funny how being afraid of being murdered in your own home will make you think hard about philosophy.
Merlin, is she still talking?
"…you are ignoring my question. I have clearance from McGonagall. What are you doing out this late?"
Slipping into his most charming Draco-suit, he offers a crooked grin and lifts the satchel in indication of the contents. "Studying, actually. You see, I'm trying for top spot this year, and I keep coming in second."
She snorts in some sort of disbelief: Either that he is being sincere or that the idea of him beating her is anything but laughable.
"What are you studying?"
Ah, so she called the bluff
Draco lifts the leather flap and pulls out the Charms text. It's not been assigned by Flitwick in class, which is what makes it such a wonderful cover. To have sought it out himself, shows some dedication on his part. Even more in his favor, he has actually even read the thing. He delved pretty hard into Charms during sixth year, thinking it would help him with that blasted Death Eater transporting cabinet.
"That's not required reading," she notes with suspicion.
"It's not," Draco agrees with a nod, "but I'm actually quite fond of the subject."
"Is that so," she says with narrowed eyes. "So, what did you think of the introduction?" She glances down at the book, daring him to answer and obviously assuming he can't.
"I thought the writer is an indulgent little ponce with his knickers in a twist that wizards have more respect for Transfiguration than Charms. I also think his penchant for repetitive use of the phrase 'in my Masterful opinion' indicates his vastly undeserved ego, especially considering I've found at least six grammatical errors throughout and a faulty wand motion in the Levitation section. However, it is also the most comprehensive reference on non-verbal and wandless magic I've found in modern writings, so I've soldiered on."
She blinks at him. Once. Twice. Draco allows himself to smile at her in an utterly sincere manner. It feels so very good to surprise Know-it-all Hermione Granger.
He has one more surprise. In this whole exchange, one word in particular stood out. "So," he says, casually, tipping his head to indicate her attire, "those are Armani, you said?"
"They are…" She's cautious, no doubt wondering where he could be going with this and, in fact, probably surprised he recognized the word.
"Did you purchase them in a Shopper's Mall?"
"I… no. I got them at Harrods."
Draco nods sagely, as if that means anything to him.
"Quality establishment like that," he guesses, "… I suppose they have Escalation there?" He studies his cuticles but spies through his lashes at the witch. A visual reference would be better. He tries to invoke as much realism as possible in their gameplay, but a description would work almost as well.
"Escalation? Do you mean, like… inflation?" She looks abjectly confused. Her pretty doe eyes and slightly parted lips seem to have forgotten momentarily that she's supposed to hate him. Noticing those same eyes and lips, he's becoming a bit forgetful of that fact as well.
"Perhaps I'm not saying it correctly," he tries smoothly. "To move to upper floors. Escalating."
Draco snaps his fingers and saunters just a step closer.
"That's it. Brightest witch indeed…I knew you'd figure it out."
Ok, so now maybe he's laying it on a little thick.
"They do. Have escalators, I mean." She says is slowly, full of suspicion. He can't blame her for that, really. He may have been acquitted after the Battle of Hogwarts, largely due to anonymous testimony of, he assumes, her dear friend Harry, but he's still Draco Malfoy to her. A bit humbled perhaps, but largely still a bit of a snobbish, entitled, pureblood heir.
"Fantastic," he answers. "Of course, I've not seen them up close, but I understand they lift one to the upper floor of a building without any magic."
"Yes… that's about right. They're like self-moving stairs."
He brightens, finally understanding. "Oh! Like here, then? At Hogwarts?"
Draco watches as she chews her lip, finding the right words. "No, not quite like here. The staircase doesn't move, the stairs do. They rotate up and sort of over and down then back up again." She is using her hand in a circular motion which, he assumes, illustrates the path of the stairs.
"Is it difficult?"
"What?" she asks. "Building them?"
"No, no." Daring another step closer, he clarifies, "Using one. Mounting it. Does it require a lot of….you know… dexterity?"
Hermione eyes him with a strange look before shaking her head. He wonders if she is looking for an innuendo in his phrasing. He hadn't meant it, but he supposes that may have sounded a bit suggestive.
"Not as such. I mean, you might stumble a bit when you climb on. And I've heard of people having skirt tails or trouser legs stuck at the end where the stairs go back under the floor."
This is fascinating! He's feeling giddy with knowledge and asks with what he doesn't realize is probably a creepy smile, "Does anyone ever die?"
"Oh, you'd like that wouldn't you," she grinds out, and then, "No, Malfoy. No one dies on an escalator. Just maybe fall down or tear their clothes."
He files that away to use for later game sessions. If Pansy fails a dex check, he could make her lose her Charisma dress! The escalator just became a great way to dole out consequences for failed rolls.
And more importantly: Why didn't he think of this before? Ask a muggleborn about muggles. He can make for a far more realistic experience if we knows more about the strange gadgets that helps them live without magic.
Pleased as proverbial punch, Draco grins at her and comments, "Clever creatures, muggles."
"Creatures?!" she screeches at him, fists balling at her sides.
He's confused by her reaction. Was that not an apt word? House Elves are creatures, and she loves those. Werewolves are creatures, and she was chummy with their old professor. It's a word in his vocabulary that was always meant to represent anything sentient that isn't a wizard.
"I meant no disrespect," he tries, but the witch is right fuming.
"Just, get back to your dungeon, Malfoy. You're lucky I'm not Head Girl, or I'd dock so many points your children wouldn't see the House Cup!"
With that, she flips her luxurious curls over her shoulder and stomps her way toward Gryffindor tower.
Draco watches her go, annoyed at her presumption and intrigued by her attire and demeanor. She's a little on her own this year. The Boy Who Lives Over and Over Again has returned, but he seems to be spending a lot of time with the Weaslette.
As for their Weasel sidekick, he is told her then-boyfriend had decided to go to work at WWW with his now twinless brother. Draco always sort of liked the twins. The loss of Fred Weasley is one that even Draco has mourned. He might have been raised to look down on the family, but has been learning that many things he was raised to believe were either untrue, exaggerated, or from a skewed perspective.
The first few days of term, he had assumed Hermione would wilt like a flower without rain when left to her own devices. Instead, she seems to have flourished. Striking up friendships with a handful of Ravenclaws and some of the younger Gryffindors, Granger is an altogether more confident and mature witch. No one comes out of a war unchanged. Just in what way it affected the intellectual little heroine has become a curiosity for Draco over the past few weeks.
Plus, she knows all about muggle gadgets. A Cheshire smile curls his lips. It's a lovely two part plan: Get close to the girl to, A, find out more details so he can properly MM his role-playing game, and, B, find out more about the pretty witch in question.
He sleeps soundly that night, a smile on his face as he drifts off, considering the possibilities.
ok so real quick, this is going to be a relatively short piece. A handful of chapters, most already written, so posting should be pretty steady and fast. Maybe not daily... I kill myself trying to do that lol.. but twice weekly ish?
Whatever... There will be posting. It will be silly. Dramione will ensue.
Special thanks to my husband who deeply inspired this fic. 20 years ago he made me read Harry Potter. Today, using an RPG as a plot device was full on his suggestion. There is no end to our nerdy romance.
I hope you have a good time and would be ever so grateful for follows, faves, and reviews!