The Poker Game
Harry Potter and the others do not belong to me. If they did, I wouldn't be writing this, and I wouldn't be short on cash.
In this story, I'm making some assumptions on the value of the Galleon. Seeing as we are generally rather uninformed about prices in the wizarding world, I'm basing my assumptions on the end of book four. Harry gave Fred and George 1000 Galleons to open the joke shop. Assuming that the twins had some money of they own, and the money was enough to cover rent for at least a few months, as well as getting stock, inventory, and doing testing of various items, I'm assuming that 5000 Galleons is enough to buy a small house in the country, and 10,000 would get you a reasonably sized house.
The Poker Game – an HP shortfic by Enterprise1701d and Joshua The Evil Guy
Harry looked at Hermione, a small smile on his face as they both leaned to the small opening in the door of the Room of Requirement. "We've got ten thousand Galleons, and aren't afraid to use them."
"Correct," the gruff voice replied, not happy about it at all, but opening the door all the same.
Harry and Hermione walked in, ignoring Goyle's glare as he closed the door back up behind them.
"Potty and the Mudblood," Draco Malfoy sneered from his place at the table. "What are you doing here, Scarhead? This isn't some poker game you can just waltz in, you know."
Harry shrugged, pulled out a chair for Hermione, then sat down himself. He threw two heavy bags to Daphne Greengrass, who was holding the bank. "Two times ten thousand Galleons, we're buying ourselves in."
Malfoy glared at Harry. "Rather, you are buying the both of you in. I can't see the mudblood covering this kind of money. That's more than her house is worth, probably."
"Malfoy, for one evening, try not to be an ass. We're here to take your money, not your life. It won't kill you to behave like an ordinary person... even if it's just for one night," Harry grunted.
Malfoy was silent for just a few seconds. "You're right, Potter. We should all behave like gentlemen at the poker table." He glared at Harry and Hermione in turn. "That way, there are no hard feelings if you end up without any money."
Harry shrugged. "That's right, Malfoy." He looked around the table, noting that a few more chairs were present but empty at the moment. Already present were Draco Malfoy, Daphne Greengrass, Tracey Davies, all from Slytherin House.
Seeing that the game wasn't going to start yet, Harry got up, and walked to the bar to get himself a drink. To his surprise, Draco followed.
"We're playing by the real rules here, Potter. No kid's stuff," the Malfoy heir said, actually sounding as if he were giving a warning. "That means, real drink, too." He drew a bottle of Fire Whiskey from the bar. Harry glanced over the assorted drinks, found nothing that was non-alcoholic, and settled for a bottle of Fire Whiskey himself. Drawing two glasses, he went back to his seat, shoved one of the glasses in front of Hermione, and plumped the bottle of whiskey in between them.
"No kid's drinks, only real alcohol," Harry muttered to his friend, who had started to open her mouth and protest.
There was a knock on the door, and the correct password was given. In came two Ravenclaws, Eddie Carmichael and Luna Lovegood. Harry shook his head. Luna, brilliant she may be, wasn't the type to be good at poker. Or, she'd be brilliant, distracting everyone with her curious sayings and explanations.
Harry tuned out the talk between the three Slytherins on the other side of the table, and greeted Eddie and Luna amicably. Not two minutes later, another knock sounded, and this time, it was two Hufflepuffs that came in, Susan Bones and her best friend, Hannah Abbott.
Harry glanced at his watch. It was another ten minutes before the game was supposed to start, but it looked to him as if everyone who was going to play, was here. But, this was not his game. It had been put together, much as he loathed to admit it, by the male Slytherin sitting on the other side of the table. Of course it had been put together by him... only he would put an entrance fee of ten thousand galleons on a poker game.
That's why he was here, to try and see if he couldn't cost the man some money.
Another knock sounded, and Harry frowned. Malfoy, for just a few seconds, reflected the same look, before both glared at each other, angry at themselves and the other for agreeing. Hermione, Tracey, and Daphne, all rolled their eyes at the ridiculous rivalry.
The correct password was given, apparently, as Goyle opened the door.
In stepped Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. Harry didn't know whether to be angry, or glad, that they were here. Draco, on the others side, seemed to be glaring openly... and that amused Harry more than the commotion the arrival of two teachers caused.
Dumbledore handed Daphne two sacks of gold. Apparently, the teachers weren't just here to watch... they were going to play, too.
Draco looked a rather pasty white, but Tracey invited the teacher to grab a drink, first. The game was going to start precisely at eight, after all.
"So, uh, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall," Harry tested the waters a bit as everybody got their drinks and took their places at the table, "How exactly did you hear about this... game?"
Dumbledore just gave that damn twinkling smile of his and shrugged while answering, "Oh you might be surprised at just how many things can very quickly become common knowledge in Hogwarts Harry. The student body has been buzzing about this little game for the past week or so."
"Yes," agreed Professor McGonagall, "and when we learned that it was young Mister Malfoy who was sponsoring it, we of course immediately went to Professor Snape to confirm the rumors. Severus would be here himself but the fact that the goblins would not provide him with a loan by today. And given those in attendance at this game," she paused to give stern looks at both Harry and Draco, "Professor Dumbledore and I felt that it might be required to have at least a couple of mature attendants. Unfortunately, Professor Snape informed us, and it was confirmed that the only way anyone would be allowed to chaperone the game is if they were playing. And out of all Hogwarts Staff, only myself and Albus had the savings on hand to stake the entrance fee."
Draco, as arrogant as he could be, really couldn't help but squirm under Professor McGonagall's most stern glare. It could even be argued that Voldemort himself might flinch back at first. At that moment, the School Clock chimed the hour, 8 o'clock, and everyone took their seats.
It was a round table, which seemed to expand and contract as needed, depending upon the players. Starting with Draco however, who was opposite the door to the Room, and moving clockwise to his left was Daphne, then Luna, then Eddie, Hermione, Harry, Professor Dumbledore, Susan, Professor McGonagall, Hannah, and finally ending with Tracey on Draco's right hand side.
The game started, and the first few rounds saw conservative betting, the players testing each other's strengths and weaknesses, everyone waiting for the others to make the first mistake.
Almost as if in agreement with this strategy, for the first half hour nobody had any real winning hands, it all going down to who had the highest value cards. Harry was the first to get anything worth anything, and it was just a pair of two and the pot was small during that round. During the tenth round however, there seemed to be some unspoken agreement that everyone chose to abide by, although it also could have had to do with the fact that right off the bat several people suddenly had working hands.
Dealership had been passing steady with Draco starting in the first round and the next player over dealing cards the next round and so on and so forth. It was now Tracey's turn to deal, giving each player five face down cards before putting the deck down and picking up her own cards. Since Tracey was the Dealer, Draco had first bid.
Smirking noticeably, but then he'd been doing that the whole night so far, even when he had nothing, he raised the stakes a bit, everybody having bid no more than ten galleons, as this round he took a small stack of the gold coins before him (for some reason the wizarding world never caught on with the idea of Poker chips) and tossed them into the middle while saying, "I bid 200 galleons."
Everybody started at that and stared. Draco had a lousy poker face, but the fact that he kept it the same, good or bad, said he was either better than he let on, or an absolute idiot.
Looking down at his own hands of a pair of sevens, Hearts and Clubs, an eight of Diamonds, a ten of Hearts and the Ace of Spades, Harry decided that Draco was an absolute idiot.
Daphne then took the exact same amount from her own stacks and tossed it in, saying, "I'll match." Suddenly everybody knew the real game had only just started.
Luna smiled serenely at her cards before taking twice the amount and said, "I'll see two hundred, and raise two hundred. Yes, that will be just lovely."
Frowning at the rather loopy blond, everyone else hesitated for just a moment before matching the four hundred galleon bet. Until it got to Harry. "I'll raise another two hundred," he said, casting in six hundred galleons from his stack. Dumbledore just chuckled and merrily raised the stakes up to 800 galleons. Susan and Professor McGonagall were looking rather hesitant all of a sudden, but they both matched the Headmaster's bet, as did Hannah without a word. Tracey just smirked evilly as she matched the 800 galleons, and then put in another two hundred to make it an even thousand.
Draco's smirk lost its edge just the tiniest sliver, but not to the degree that said he was worried. Thankfully, before the betting could continue, everyone was offered the choice to discard and draw fresh cards for their hands. Draco took three, Daphne one, Luna decided to discard her entire hand and take five fresh ones. Eddie stared in shock at his housemate for half a second before taking three for himself. Hermione likewise took three, while Harry got rid of his eight and ten and drew two new cards, giving him a third seven and the two of Spades. Dumbledore took two as well, while Susan, Minerva, and Hannah all took three. Tracey discarded only one card and gave herself a new one.
"Bet remains at 1000 galleons," Tracey announced after finishing passing out cards, "Draco, your bid."
"I'll match at 1000," he said without enthusiasm, putting a full stack of galleons from before him into the pot.
Daphne likewise matched, but reluctantly, while Luna, looking very happy for some reason, raised it to 1500 galleons with a cute little hop in her chair. Eddie frowned at her and sighed at her antics. Everybody knew she didn't have anything, but 1500 was too rich for him, not if he wanted to stay in the game for any length of time. "I fold," he tossed down his cards.
Hermione, reluctantly, matched the 1500 bet, and then Harry glanced over his own cards at every other player in turn. Three of a kind with the Ace and two of Spades was the best hand all night that anybody had seen. It wasn't the best hand in the game by a long shot, but unless Malfoy and the Slytherins were cheating, even more unlikely with two Professors present, he had the best hand and could win this round easily. The question became, did he try and draw out more from Draco and the Slytherins by betting low, or did he want to make the others drop out by raising it higher?
Rubbing his scar in irritation at the conundrum, Harry finally decided to follow Luna's example and see what would happen. "I'll raise another 500," he said, putting in two whole stacks of galleons. It was the most impressive pot of the night already, and then some.
Dumbledore just chuckled, eyes twinkling merrily as he matched Harry's bet, but did not raise it any further. Susan, Minerva, and Hannah all frowned and all folded. Tracey just smirked, like she knew a secret, and then raised it another five hundred galleons, making the bet 2500.
At the end of that pass, Tracey asked if anyone wanted any more cards, but they all declined and Draco quickly matched the 2500 bet. Luna almost raised again, but a sharp kick from Eddie under the table had her talking about Woottable gnomes being frisky instead and she settled for matching the 2500. Hermione frowned, but finally folded herself. Harry stayed in the game, and then smirked at Draco across the table as he raised the bet to 3000 galleons. Dumbledore folded rather than match and it went back to Tracey, who was staring with whole new respect at the nearly thirty thousand galleon pile. Glancing at her cards, then at her remaining galleons, she just nodded, without revealing any emotion, and matched 3000 galleons.
Harry, having made the largest bid so far, and the last raise, he waited to see what Draco, Daphne, and Luna would do, as they had to match 3000 to remain in the game or fold. Draco quickly tossed in the money, while Daphne quietly folded. Luna happily tossed in her own 3000 to match. Now, Harry could either raise the stakes yet again, and he was sorely tempted to, or merely call. Given than nobody else had chosen to raise it any further, he knew they weren't as confident in their hands as he was. Except for Luna of course.
Rubbing his scar again in irritation at the decision, Harry kept looking back and forth between his cards and the pile of galleons at the center. Then he just happened to glance up and saw Draco looking at him kinda funny. Like the blond boy had just been told something by Professor Snape, which quite frankly was never a good thing in Harry's experience. He deserved to be knocked down a peg or two.
"I raise another thousand galleons," Harry pronounced, pushing in four thousand galleons into the pot.
Scowling, Tracey answered, "Too rich for me. I fold."
Draco was back to smirking however, and it was as bad as ever, maybe even worse as he tried some trash talk to boot. "Must be a pretty good hand Potter. Of course, if things keep up at this rate, I wonder if even you will be able to keep up. I'll match, and just to see you sweat, I'll raise you another thousand!" The Malfoy heir pushed in 5000 galleons. Luna was about to match it, but another kick from Eddie had her complaining about frisky gnomes all over again and she looked all over the room for a second before pushing in her five thousand galleons. Harry merely nodded his head and matched the raise and said, "Call."
Draco burst out laughing and crowed, "Read'em and weep Potter! Pair of Kings, all Hearts and Diamonds!"
"Oh my, that is a good hand, isn't it Harry?" Luna questioned before putting down her own hand... of two pair with fives and nines and a Jack of Clubs.
"Wow Luna, that's also a pretty good hand," Harry complimented her. "Better than Draco's even. Unfortunately Luna, my three sevens, Ace of Spades and two of Spades beats even that I'm afraid."
"Oh, that's OK, I had fun anyway," she happily retorted while Malfoy's face was a picture of absolute rage.
"Next round?" Harry asked with a smile as he raked in over 48,000 galleons.
The next three rounds went much the same way, starting off in the hundreds, but soon everyone was betting in the thousands, only the winners were different. Draco won next, then Harry again, and Draco once more as the first hour of gameplay came to a close.
After about an hour of play, everyone had noticed that Harry was doing reasonably well, keeping his losses to a minimum. Hermione wasn't doing too bad either, after an hour's worth of play she was still sitting on about the same amount of chips she had started out with. The two Hufflepuffs had lost a couple of hands, both of them at about half of their original chips.
Eddie, from Ravenclaw, was at about ¾ of his chips, while Luna was losing rapidly, the airy blond grinning and laughing entirely too much for the amount of money she had just lost.
Daphne and Tracey were still about even, while Draco, too, had won a couple of bigger hands, one of which was the reason why Professor McGonagall was now sitting with about ¾ of her original chips. Dumbledore too, had lost a couple of hands, and had less than his starting amount.
All in all, the bigger winnings seemed to have gone to either Draco, whom they all knew was an experienced poker player, and Harry Potter, the unknown talent. For some reason, Draco tended to bet big whenever Harry was debating whether to raise or match, as the Boy Who Lived fell into the habit of scratching his scar during those decisions.
As the evening progressed, and the level of Ogden's in the bottles on the table started to drop, bigger and bigger bets started to be waged, now that the alcohol started to work its magic on the players.
Luna was the first one in trouble. Her chips were nearly gone, and after Daphne raised the stakes, the blond looked at the pot, her cards, and then around the table.
"I seem to miss enough chips to stay in the game," she muttered, ignoring Draco's rolling eyes. "Are physical bets accepted?"
Daphne shrugged. "You can sell physical items to the bank for their approximate value in galleons, and buy it back at the end of the game, if you have enough left over... but that's only in between rounds. If you want to bet an item during play, you'll have to put it directly in the pot... but there's the possibility that you lose, and you won't be able to buy it back unless the winner allows you to."
Luna nodded. "I have no physical possessions worth betting," she muttered. "How about I bet myself?"
"Excuse me?" McGonagall asked, not believing what she heard.
"I'm betting myself," Luna said.
"How much is the price for an indentured servant these days?" Tracey asked Draco, grinning.
"Hm," Draco muttered in answer. "About the price of a small house. Let's be honest, and put the price down at four thousand Galleons. Of course, this is Looney we're talking about-"
"That's my friend you're insulting, Malfoy!" Harry growled, angrily.
"Fine, fine," Malfoy replied, coldly. "I take the Looney joke back. Luna raises 4000 Galleons. I'm in," he said, grinning eagerly, pushing four thousand galleons to the center of the table, and leered at Luna, who didn't seem to notice the stare.
Daphne pushed four thousand Galleons forth from the bank. "I'm in. Now it's starting to get fun."
"We are NOT accepting students as bets!" McGonagall grunted angrily.
"Oh, yes, we are," Draco said. "Remember, Ultra-High-Stakes? Heck, you can bet your house if you want to. Those are the rules you agreed to play by."
McGonagall growled something under her breath, but didn't get support from the Headmaster, so she dropped it. "I'm out."
Ditto, the Headmaster. "I don't have the kind of money left to bet four thousand Galleons on a single round," he said, putting his cards down.
Hermione was red in the face, but this was Luna betting herself, and the drink had loosened her considerably. "I'm NOT betting on a friend," she grunted, dropping her cards.
Harry stared at his cards, then at the pile in the center of the table, and finally at Luna. "This isn't right, I'm not betting either."
"So you want me to go to Draco or Daphne then?" Luna asked, spacily. "Should I lose, of course."
Harry, about to put down his cards, hesitated. He had some winnings, true. Just like Draco, he could miss four thousand Galleons. "Fine," he said, pushing the necessary amount to the center of the table. "I'm in."
"How courageous of you, Potter," Draco said, grinning widely.
In short terms, the two Hufflepuffs bowed out, and Eddie, who had seen his original bet raised by one female co-student, had to bow out as well.
"I have a Full House, tens over fives," Luna said, rather proudly, putting her cards down.
Draco cursed. His flush had been beaten. Daphne, too, sounded rather angry as she put her two pairs down. Everyone stared at Harry.
He swallowed, looked around the ground, and looked pale. He knew he had to put his cards face-up, or he'd try and weasel his way out of this...
"Full house, Kings over nines..."
"At least I'll have a good master," Luna muttered, rather subdued now, before her smile came back, full tilt. "At least it's not Malfoy."
Draco muttered something under his breath, then looked at Harry, who was still staring at the huge amount of Galleons in the pot. "Don't even think about it, Potter. You can't release her until the game's over. After all, you might have need for some collateral by the time the game's over."
Harry let out his breath, and scooped up his loot. "As soon as this game's over, I'm releasing you," he told Luna as his nimble fingers counted and piled the galleons without him even looking at her.
Luna shrugged. "If I want to be released, that is," she said, grinning. "Anyway, since I am now in your service, I can't play anymore... you could force me to do things, you know." She stood up, and walked to the bar. "I'll get you a new bottle of Ogden's, yours seems to be low."
Harry spluttered at Luna as she walked away. "Thanks," he finally muttered as the new bottle was put down next to him.
"I don't understand," Hermione said, turning to him. "We're all showing that we've been drinking. That bet just now is proof of that. But you look stone-cold sober!"
"Bad youth," Harry answer, shrugging. "Living where I live, I've been sneaking into Aunt Petunia's liquor cabinet since I was eight. It was the only way to get by. It'll take a lot stronger than this to drop me."
Dumbledore gave the young man a pitying look filled with remorse.
Luna betting herself seemed to be another major turning point in the gameplay. Harry was still winning the bigger pots while always folding when he had nothing and because he wasn't playing, Malfoy tended not to raise as often. Yet Susan Bones found herself suddenly in the same position that Luna had found herself in before, the Hufflepuff lass was put to quite the quandary.
Sadly, at the beginning of the year, the matriarch of the Bones Family and good percentage of her adult family were killed by Death Eaters. It wasn't until three months after the fact that Susan was presented with the contents of the will of her family, which named her as sole beneficiary. Which, in laymen terms means that she could either bet all of her inheritance, the foundations of the entire ancient and noble Bones Family, the last physical remnants of her family on this world, and bet away Bones Manor, the deed of which she had in her pocket. Or. She could bet herself, like Luna did, as she was almost 5000 galleons behind the wage and she only had 1500 galleons left in front of her. But putting in Bones Manor could symbolize raising the bet and if it got raised anymore, she'd have to go all in, with herself on top of it. And the idea of Malfoy owning anything of hers... She shivered in revulsion.
Looking back at her cards however, she saw the two red Queens smiling serenely up at her alongside two cute little black Tens and a lone Four of Clubs. Two Pair! It was the best hand she'd had all night! And if she just bet Bones Manor by itself, she could keep her current 1500 and then turn the rest of her Inheritance in for more galleons to the bank between play. She could win this. And there was so much money on the table before her, almost taunting in the way it shone.
Taking a deep sigh, she folded her cards so nobody would see, but did not put them down, and then reached for the deed to Bones Manor. "I raise... Bones Manor," she said with a dull slur in her voice as she tossed in the deed to the pot. "Worth more on its own than what anybody else has got! Cept maybe Harry, since he's got over a million plus Luna!"
"Bugger!" cursed Dumbledore as he knew that there was nothing, save one or two irreplaceable items, in his possession that could match the estate home of a Pureblood Family. He too had a good hand and he didn't want to give up too easily without a fight. Finally, like a lightning bolt in the brilliant genius's mind, an idea came to him. He had a lot of gold in front of him, but not enough to match an estate, unless he could add to the pot with something that might be worth just as much to some students.
"Very well then," he said as he shoved all his gold forward, "in addition to going 'All In' I believe the term is, I will be adding two slips of paper that by my binding oath will allow the users unrestricted access to all restricted areas of Hogwarts, most notably the Restricted Section in the Library. For themselves and any of their friends."
He then conjured the paper into his hand and tossed it in with the rest of his gold.
"A 'Get Out Of Detention Free' pass," McGonagall said without preamble as she too went all in. She had actually already put in two such passes already. Harry and Hermione each had won it over previous rounds.
"Too rich for me," Hannah folded.
Tracey had already folded for this round, so it went to Malfoy, who was paler than usual. He glanced over at Harry, who was stone-faced, although almost anyone else would be able to tell it was due to Luna trying to give him a full-body massage in his chair, but Malfoy is in idiot. Finally, the Malfoy heir scowled and pronounced, "I'll match, with Malfoy Manor!"
Hermione had been dealer this round, so it went to Daphne, who looked just as troubled. "I'm not about to bet the Greengrass Ancestral Home," she said while pulling something out of her own pocket, "but we do have a few vacation homes that should fit the bill. Here! The Greengrass Lodge near the sea! I'll toss in another 4000 to make up any difference!" She still had another 5000 galleons left afterwards, she didn't feel like betting it all on her hand just yet.
The call was made and the results were in. Daphne had a Pair of Kings, Draco had Three-Of-A-Kind in Nines, Professor McGonagall, who was quite drunk by now, had a Pair of Tens, Susan had her Two Pairs, Hermione had nothing, but Dumbledore and Harry both had Flushes. Dumbledore had all Clubs of low numbers, whereas Harry had all Hearts of a King, Jack, Ten, Seven and Nine. It came out almost even, so Harry took the properties, while Dumbledore took half the gold so he wasn't out of the game just yet.
Over Susan's crying, nobody missed hearing Luna ask Harry, "Now that we have a few places to live in, Harry, you're going to need to keep it clean. Would you like me to be your maid, Harry? I have a few costumes that might be fun trying out while cleaning to bare Bones..." Luna very quickly became Harry's good luck charm as around her, he had a Poker face that could out-stare a statue.
The night was getting long, and Harry had to admit that the two bottles of Ogden's were getting to him. His stack of money was rather big now. He glanced to one side, where Hermione sat, swooning back and forth drunkenly, with a pile of chips that was about half of what she had started with. The others, too, were rather inebriated, and it looked as if this was going to be the last round tonight. The sun would be up in less than a couple of hours, and they all looked like they could use the sleep.
"Harry," Susan muttered, drunkenly, "can we have a gentleman's agreement? If you bet Bones Manor I just lost to you, I'll bet myself."
Harry wanted to tell Susan that he couldn't accept that bet. Heck, he was planning on returning the Manor to her after the game anyway. But, he also knew that, telling her that now would go against her sense of fair play. Not to mention, the entire night had been played according to 'gentleman's rules', and even Draco had more or less adhered to them... and this was yet another one of those rules. Honor. What a concept.
"I accept, Susan," Harry said, fingering the piece of parchment that was the deed to Bones Manor.
Hannah stared at her friend. She had stopped playing hours ago, her money all but gone. Luna merely giggled. "I might have a fellow servant if this goes on," she laughed.
Daphne, disgustedly, put her cards down. "I don't have four thousand Galleons left," she grunted angrily. "Too high for me."
Tracey looked at her cards, then at the fifteen hundred Galleons worth of chips before her. "I'm in."
"You don't-" Draco began.
Tracey glared at him. "I am in," she stated.
"Cool, TWO fellow servants!" Luna sang drunkenly.
Malfoy stared at his cards, his fellow Slytherin, the spacey blond that was Luna, and the rather attractive Bones heiress. "Are we all betting girls now?" he asked, his brain rather out of it thanks to the booze. "Hey Harry, how about a second gentleman's agreement? Malfoy Manor for Pansy Parkinson."
"You are betting your girlfriend?" Harry asked, incredulously. "OK, fine, you lost your ancestral home, but there's no way you can bet somebody else!"
"There's an old Life Debt between the Malfoys and the Parkinsons I can call in. She'll go where she's told. So, how about it, Potter? You putting in Malfoy Manor?"
Harry looked at the second piece of parchment, the one that was the deed to Malfoy Manor. "That's rather unfair, isn't it? I'm putting up Bones Manor, as well as Malfoy Manor, and you're just betting your girlfriend?"
"Just His girlfriend!? Mr Potter, that is a breathing person you are talking about!" McGonagall screeched, her voice shrill with drunkenness.
"And he knows I'm letting them all go tomorrow morning, or tonight, whenever I see the girl in question," Harry replied, calmly.
Malfoy saw scarlet. "What else do you want, Potter? You have my house!"
"No family heirlooms or something similar? I can understand Susan... but Malfoy Manor is worth a lot more than Pansy." Harry asked, seeing if he could get something more out of the Malfoy heir.
"Fine," Malfoy grunted. "The Malfoy jewels. Pansy, plus the jewels, for a gentleman's agreement that you're betting Malfoy Manor."
"Deal, Malfoy," Harry said, grinning. He threw the deeds on the pile, while Draco put in two parchments, one detailing his bet of the Malfoy jewels, and one detailing he was betting Pansy, through a Life Debt. It really looked as if he wanted his house back.
"THREE fellow servants!" Luna crowed, almost rolling off her chair with laughter.
Hermione bowed out. Literally, her head cracked against the table, waking the drunken Gryffindor up with a start.
"What'd I miss?"
"Susan and Tracey bet themselves, Draco bet his girlfriend and the Malfoy Family Jewels," Harry said, unable to resist the joke. Hermione shook her head, and folded.
Harry looked at the pile, the deeds there, and nodded. "The deeds are in there. What do you have?"
"King-ten flush," Susan said.
Tracey grunted. "Damn. Two pair," she muttered, throwing her cards down, face up. "Looks like I might be in your service," she told Susan.
"You'll both be in mine," Draco said, grinning widely. "Four of a kind!" He threw the four fives down, face-up.
Harry put his head in his neck, and laughed, laughing at the ceiling. "Five of a kind." He threw the cards down, face up, revealing four Kings and a Joker. The odds were astronomical... and Harry had just beaten them.
"Yup," Luna said, laughing along. "THREE new servants in the household, a lot of property, and the Malfoy Jewels," she looked at the virtually crying Malfoy heir. "I hear they're quite pretty."
"They're among the best," McGonagall said, unable to resist the urge to rib Malfoy. "I'm sure you and the others will look fabulous with them on."
Harry looked at his head of house, and smiled widely. "Of course! Only the best for my servants!" he said, earning him a dirty look from Hermione, grateful looks from Susan, Luna and Tracey, and earned the girls a jealous look from Daphne.
The next morning found Harry sitting at the Gryffindor table, surrounded by Luna on his right, Susan on his left, and Tracey sitting in front of him. Around the little group were the other Gryffindors, smiling and laughing at Harry's predicament as he repeatedly tried to get the girls to leave him alone. However, they would have none of it.
"It takes both sides to release a magical contract," Tracey said imperially. "Both contractor and contractee have to agree to release the contract, and unless we say so, the contract remains valid. Regardless of how many times you repeat that you're releasing us, that simple fact will remain."
Harry grit his teeth, and glared at his breakfast, as if it was the one at fault. "I'm going to kill Malfoy," he muttered. "If that bastard hadn't started this whole Poker game thing, I wouldn't be having this problem."
"You mean, you're seeing us as a problem?" Susan asked, sweetly, putting her head on his shoulder and fluttering her eyelashes at him.
"Eh.." Harry stammered, regardless of how angry he was he couldn't bring himself to deliberately hurting their feelings.
"And look at it this way," Tracey said. "If it hadn't been for the poker game, you wouldn't have ended up with three properties, including Malfoy Manor and the Greengrass lodge near the sea, not to mention that truckload of money, the five get-out-of-detention-free releases, the unrestricted access to the Restricted section for you and your friends... plus, as you have both the Heiress to the Bones name and the property in your collection, you could, legally, call yourself Lord Bones."
He paled, and glared at her. "Collection?" he asked, darkly.
Tracey nodded. "Yup. Legally, you're a pureblood now. Congratulations, Harry."
He bit back a scathing remark. This was not how he had envisioned this morning. Sure, he had wanted to brag with winning Malfoy Manor, and forcing the bastard to pay rent, but now everyone was laughing at him for the girl-trouble he seemed to have found himself in.
"This just keeps getting better," he said, resuming his glare at his breakfast. It wasn't any more guilty then it was last time, but it made him feel better.
"Could be worse..." Susan said, voice trailing off as she looked at the entrance of the Great Hall.
"What do you-" Harry stopped abruptly as he saw what she meant. Pansy Parkinson had just stepped into the Great Hall. She looked around, searching the Gryffindor table and soon found her target, apparently.
Sighing visibly, the girl stepped forward, into the rapidly quieting Great Hall, and walked to Harry's side. For one second, she looked at him, him looking up her standing for with a look that was both curious and filled with trepidation.
Silently, she dropped to her knees. "I have come to serve you, my master... do with me or to me what you will."
Harry felt cold, as if he had suddenly become encased in ice. True, she had never been nice to him, she had been with Malfoy, insulting him and his friends... but not even she deserved to sound so defeated. Not even she deserved...
He bit back his own dark thoughts. "Get up, Parkinson," he whispered, voice darker than he had intended, and she flinched visibly.
Great, now he felt worse. He hadn't meant for it to come across so harsh that she thought he'd hurt her. Drawing a breath, forcing himself to relax, he looked at her, now that she was standing again. Her eyes were drooped, as if she were exhausted, and filled with fear at what her fate would have in store for her.
"I'm releasing you, Parkinson." He shot a glare at the other girls. "I'm hoping you, at least, will have the sense to take it, contrary to these three idiots."
She sighed, relaxing visibly. "You mean it? You're letting me go? After all the things... I said? That I did?"
"Nobody deserves to be another's slave," Harry said, rather angrily. She flinched again, and he felt the anger bubbling up inside of him once more. What kind of society was the wizarding world, where people would believe that they'd be struck like this? "I'm releasing you from the contract Malfoy created on your behalf. Go back to your House. You're free to go."
He looked at her, as if urging her to go. She nodded, once. "For what it's worth, Potter... thanks."
He smiled at her, relieved. "At least one of you has any brains."
She nodded once more, than started to walk away. After four steps, she turned, and looked at the others. "Why aren't you going?"
"Why would we?" Susan asked. "Harry made it quite clear that he wanted to return both my freedom and my property. But, he's treating us really nicely, and I don't mind having some more fun, and this way, at least for a little while, I won't have to make any decisions myself."
Luna smiled airily. "I just want Harry to ravish me."
The boy in question turned first pale, then bright red, then pale again as the implications sunk home. Forget his sanity, his virtue was at stake here! While he stared at Luna with his mouth open, Tracey smirked at her 'master'.
"For me, it's all about the fun." She glanced at Luna. "Although that ravishing part doesn't sound to bad. If Luna wants to share-"
"The more, the merrier," Luna said, interrupting with a big smile on her face. Harry now stared from Luna to Tracey, back to Luna.
"- then we can even have a threesome," Tracey finished, grinning at the blond.
Pansy stood there, staring at the three of them, and the shell-shocked look on Harry's face. "You mean all that? About him treating you right and all that?"
Susan smirked. "Most boys would have had us last night, there was nothing we could have done had he told us to strip. Instead, he tried to release us. Now, we were all quite drunk, and I guess we just felt like being contrary, so we refused. He then told us to go back to our dormitories and get some sleep. This morning, same thing. We've been sitting here for fifteen minutes, and all he's done is try and get us to leave him."
She latched on to his arm. "Plus, he's promised us the Malfoy Jewels."
Harry blinked. Then, he remembered the promise from yesterday. "That's right!" he said, penny dropping. "So you're staying for the jewels! Now it all makes sense!"
Susan flinched back from the hateful look Tracey and Luna shot her, while they loudly protested the implication.
"If there were no jewels, we'd still stick around!" Tracey grunted, angrily. "You're a nice guy, Harry. There aren't many guys who wouldn't have tried anything with us in such a situation if they were sober... and you were drunk! That alone tells me I'm in good hands with you." She shrugged. "Besides, it's fun."
Luna was nodding enthusiastically. "And I haven't been ravished yet. I'm not leaving without it!"
Harry shot her a startled look again. Quietly, he looked at Susan, who was staring at the table. She was shaking.
"Susan? You alright?" he asked, his anger forgotten. For as long as this messed-up situation lasted, he was responsible for her, and he'd be damned if he didn't take the responsibility seriously! Besides, he knew Susan from the DA. She was a good person, and he didn't like to see her hurt.
"I'm sorry, Harry," she whispered. "I shouldn't have said that... it was a joke... I'm sorry... I would have stayed, jewels or not... please don't be angry."
She was still shaking. Harry sighed, and shook his head. "I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered. Awkwardly, he put an arm around her. "It's alright, Susan. I'm not mad. Although the explanation would have made more sense to me, and now it just went back to surreal. Honestly, you don't have be afraid." He looked at the other two girls. "You never have to be afraid of me. I might get mad, but I promise I'll never hurt you."
Susan was looking up at him, a rather tearful smile on her face. He smiled back. "There," he said. "That's better than seeing you cry."
Pansy was still standing where she had stopped. She sighed, looked at the Slytherin table, then turned and walked back to the Gryffindor table. Harry cursed under his breath.
"Come on, Parkinson," he said, half-loud. "I thought you had brains!"
"If I back out now, the Slytherins will tear me to pieces," she grunted as she arrived back at the Gryffindor table, finding no empty seats near Harry.
"Dean, mate, could you make some room for her?" Harry asked, shooting a death-glare at his breakfast. The girls were sure that it would start smoking any minute.
Half a minute later, Pansy sat down. "Welcome to the nuthouse, Parkinson," Harry grunted. He didn't notice her flinch.
"Do... do you have to call me that?" she asked in a timid voice.
Just hearing the usually cool and collected Pansy Parkinson speak in such a timid way made him look up and stare at her. "Sorry, Pansy," he corrected himself. "Bad habit," he defended himself, then frowned. "You look really pale, Pansy," he then said, studying her face. He made a come-hear sign, and she obediently leaned slightly over the table. He pushed his hand to her forehead. "No fever, though."
"I didn't get much sleep last night," she answered. "I had a bad feeling... and then Draco told me... I spent the rest of the night agonizing about what might happen, how bad you'd hurt me, or the things you'd do to me to get back for all the things I did and said."
He sighed. "I'll never hurt you," he promised once more. "Come on, I'll take you to the nurse. It might be exhaustion, or something more."
"Sit down, Harry," Tracey said, standing up, and drawing Pansy to her feet. "I'll take her to Madam Pomfrey."
"But-" Harry said, starting to protest.
"You're a pureblood master now, you shouldn't concern yourself with us," she stated, regally, as she started to walk out.
"I bloody well do care!" he shot in protest, halfway to his feet.
"We'll get those bad habits out of you!" Tracey shot back as they reached the doors. "In another week, we'll have you acting like a proper pureblood, watch my words!"
Harry sat down again. They had left the Hall, no sense in screaming after them. "Well, I bloody hell don't want to act like a 'proper pureblood'," he muttered.
For the rest of the day, Harry was glad that he didn't have any lessons with either the Hufflepuffs or Slytherins, and thus had at least a break from the girls during classes. All day long, he was preoccupied, thinking about the situation, trying to find a way out.
During lunch, he had found himself surrounded once again.
"Glad to see you're looking better, Pansy," Harry said, honestly glad to see the Slytherin girl look better. "What did the nurse say?"
"Now, Harry-" Tracey began.
"I want to know what Madam Pomfrey said. And I still care about you girls, especially since you all decided to make me responsible for your lives. If you don't like it, all you have to do is accept my offer to cancel the contract," Harry replied, levelly, looking at Tracey, before looking back to Pansy, who was flushing now.
"Thanks for caring," she said, at a low level. "It was exhaustion, and the nerves, I guess. Madam Pomfrey gave me a potion to relax me, and it helped."
Harry nodded. "Glad to hear it."
Tracey didn't let Harry's comment get to her, and kept trying to make him act like a proper pureblood. He ignored her attempts.
They broke for classes, and Harry let out his breath as Luna went to the fifth year Ravenclaws, Susan went to the sixth year Hufflepuffs, and Tracey and Pansy went to the sixth year Slytherins... none of which shared any classes with him today.
"I feel like pounding my head against a wall," Harry muttered. He glanced at Hermione. "They just don't want to accept the fact that I want to cancel the contracts, and Tracey keeps trying to make me act like a 'proper pureblood'. I'm just glad that she's not going on about blood purity."
"I'm just glad you're treating them right," Hermione replied. "Not many boys in your position would be so honorable."
Harry scoffed. "That's probably the reason they don't want to leave, I'm treating them too nice." He sighed. "You know, it would be so bad if Tracey didn't keep trying to convert me into a pureblood overlord of some kind. Plus, I have the feeling that there's a storm brewing between the girls. They all have different feelings about this, they all want different things, and I don't know how long they'll be nice to each other about it. The last thing I want is them fighting."
Hermione was silent. "You know, I have read a book about pureblood households."
"When did you have time to do that?" Harry asked, surprised. "Sometimes, you astonish me, Hermione."
Smiling at the unexpected praise, the girl said, "This morning. While you were busy arguing, I read about this sort of situation. What I think is happening is that Tracey is pushing for a position known as the 'First'... like a den mother of sorts. The First is in charge of the household, and so on."
Harry stared at her, his jaw on the ground. He picked it up, reattached it to his face, and muttered under his breath.
"Sorry?" Hermione asked, not having understood him.
"That's just great, now I have to chose between them", Harry said, a little louder. "You know, I think that, no matter how good Tracey would be at the job, the only one out of them that I really know is Luna. She went with us to the Department of Mysteries last year, she's been a prominent member of the DA, and she has been a good friend." He grinned. "I think I'll ask Luna if she wants to position. Maybe, it'll make the others reconsider." He shrugged. "Even if it's just Tracey that leaves, at least it's one girl..." He trailed off as Hermione look miffed about something.
"I don't believe you, Harry," she said, sounding rather angry. "These girls want to be near you! Pushing them away will only hurt their feelings. It's not a very nice thing to do, honestly, Harry."
He stared at her. "They are clamoring to be my indentured servants, Hermione! If I tell them 'I order you to', they are bound to do what I tell them! I don't want that kind of power over people! They're like slaves, only with a better title!"
Hermione shook her head. "In this case, as they refuse to rescind the contract, it's voluntary. And besides, it's not slavery, as you are bound to take care of them. And you're already doing a fine job, caring for Parkinson like that."
"Don't call her that," Harry snapped, then blinked, and stared in confusion. "She... eh... wants to be called Pansy," he muttered, flushing.
Hermione laughed, her point had been proved.
That evening, he got the shock of his life as the portrait to the Gryffindor Common Room opened up, admitting the four girls. Luna just took everything in stride, while Susan, Tracey, and Pansy just looked around, figuring the differences between the Common Rooms.
Harry stared at them, then glanced at the rest of the Gryffindors. Most of them didn't react too badly, but most boys were shooting him smirks. As well as some semi-jealous glares.
"Can I help you?" Harry asked, bringing the attention of the three gaping witches to him.
"Well, we're your servants, so we need to be close," Susan said, grinning, receiving a mildly peeved look from Tracey, who apparently wanted to be the one to tell Harry.
"Eh..." Harry muttered, deciding that Hermione seemed to have been right about Tracey. He shrugged, and motioned for a couple of free couches. He was just glad that it was a calm evening, and there were free couches. "Have a seat, girls."
They sat, and looked up at him as he stood before them. "It's been brought to my attention," he glanced briefly at Hermione, before focusing on the girls once more, "That I need a First. Now, unfortunately, I don't know most of you that well. So... I would like Luna to be my First."
The blond in question looked up at him, blinked her large silvery eyes, and a smile crept onto her lips. "I accept," she said, airily.
Susan and Pansy just nodded, and took it in stride. Tracey sputtered. "But... but..."
"You keep trying to change me," Harry said, gently. "I don't want to change. I want to be Harry. Just Harry. Now, due to circumstances, it's become hrder than ever, but I still want to be as normal as possible. And acting like you want me to act isn't helping."
She looked at the couch, and nodded sadly. "I understand. I'm sorry."
He sighed, feeling like a class-A jerk again. How did these girls wind him around their fingers to easily? He placed a hand on her shoulder, making her look up. "I'm not angry, Tracey, I'm just explaining things... I've known Luna for longer, she's a good friend of mine, plus, last year, she had my back in a very difficult situation. I trust her."
Tracey nodded, smiling slightly once again. He smiled back at her, and sat down, right in the middle of them, making them scamper out of the way to make room for him. Squeaking and laughing, they made the bare minimum amount of space, and pressed themselves close to him.
"So, Harry, can we stay the night?" Susan asked, grinning.