Astronomy Tower
Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Slash Romance
Multiple Eras
Published: 06/14/2003
Updated: 09/28/2003
Words: 53,207
Chapters: 11
Hits: 178,233

All Bets Are Off


Story Summary:
I am SICK of Good-little-innocent!Harry...````Enter Playboy!Harry and his Overinflated Ego, a challenge, a bet, a couple of Really Cunning Plans - and there you have it, "Forty days and forty nights", Hogwarts style. Mayhem ensues! ````Warning: judicious use of Emphatic Capital Letters and idiotic one-liners.

Chapter 03

Chapter Summary:
I am SICK of Good-Little-Innocent!Harry...
Author's Note:
Anuvver chappie for yas:) Lotsa love to reviewers and to Sean my beta (without whom this chapter would be full of bollocks spelling and absolutely no grammar - thanx sean!) Please enjoy:)

All Bets Are Off

Chapter three

The rule of the one that got away

The rest of the week passed uneventfully. Harry, whilst missing sex with a desperation that approximated the feelings of farmers in the midst of a ten-year drought toward rain, found that liberal application of the Flaccidus hex and a lot of extracurricular homework kept the arousal at bay the majority of the time. Thus, when Saturday's Quidditch match rolled around, he felt nothing beyond his usual pre-match mixture of arrogance and determination.

Ten minutes before the game, Harry sat alone in the change rooms. The rest of his team had already left for the cage, with Ron, as keeper, giving them his usual pep-talk. As captain, this task should have fallen to Harry, but Harry found that his ability to speak about Quidditch was about as uplifting as a five-year-old jockstrap, and thus had wisely chosen to delegate.

Hermione, still slightly sulky with Harry over humiliating her about her sausage penchant, had mended the holes in the knees of his Quidditch cords, Harry noted as he pulled them on and sat to do his kneepads up.

He found himself thinking about Malfoy. Again. Harry could no longer fool himself that he was just reviewing Draco's flying style so he would be full bottle for the match. He was admiring it. The other boy flew with a grace and precision that was at once taunting and electrifying. On the rare occasions that Harry was still long enough to observe Draco in flight, he found himself spellbound by the sheer, abandoned beauty of it - there was a passion that bordered on wantonness in Draco's flying, in the elegant lines of his hard body as he moved atop his broom; in the fire that exploded in his eyes when things didn't, or did, go his way; in the cruelty and sheer desperation that infused him when he was out on the pitch. He flew like nothing else existed when he was in the air. It was why Harry loved to fly against him, not that Harry would ever tell Draco that. It was this passion that Harry suddenly longed to experience for himself...

It was stupid, really, how a little thing like enforced celibacy could make you desperate to shag your worst enemy.

Harry found he wasn't looking forward to playing against the Slytherins at all. Usually he relished the harsh, violent physical contact of Quidditch, but with his sudden sexual awareness of Draco Malfoy, Harry wondered if he wasn't just as likely to be turned on by it instead. The thought was a little unnerving.

Oh well, better just catch the Snitch in the first five minutes, and then I'll have no time to worry about it, Harry thought with a confidence that wasn't all feigned.

He stood up, fastened his robes, grabbed his broom and headed to the cage. He arrived just in time to catch Ron saying, "Now let's go wipe the grass with those Slytherin pussies!"

What was it with Ron and sexual connotations?

* * * *

Ten minutes into the match, Harry knew he was in trouble.

Slytherin was up fifty to ten, the Snitch was nowhere to be seen, and Draco Malfoy had just groped him for the fourth time in as many minutes. It was getting harder and harder to ignore. Harder and harder and harder and HARDER...shut UP idiot brain, Harry shouted to himself. Really, the gimp in his mind was becoming an irritation.

Harry swooped and dove, not seeing the Snitch but attempting to keep Malfoy's hands away from his person. He looked over his shoulder and was transfixed by the flight of the other boy. Malfoy really flew...it was quite beautiful. Harry, in a transport of pleasure, flew exceedingly low, and looked around just in time to realise there was no way in hell he was going to be able to avoid planting his face in the dirt. He took an inelegant, sprawling tumble from his broom onto the pitch, landing on his back, and stared up at the blue sky with astonishment. How had that happened?

"And Harry Potter shows us how well he can fly without a broomstick..." came the commentator's voice. "Perhaps all this bet malarkey has made him a little hesitant to hang on to his stick..." There was a ripple of laughter from the stands.

Harry sat up, groaning. "Motherfucker," he said succinctly. He retrieved his broom and kicked off from the ground more forcefully than was necessary. His face was as red as his uniform.

He dodged a bludger and shot up to the upper levels, coming face-to-face with Malfoy, who was laughing his handsome head off. "All right there, Potter?" he asked nastily. "Really elegant flying back there, I thought."

"Fuck you, Malfoy," Harry snarled, circling Draco and keeping his eyes peeled for the Snitch. He was buggered if, after that little performance, he was going to let Malfoy humiliate him any further by beating him to it.

Draco took advantage of Harry's inattention to glide right up to his side and run a hand slowly and seductively down his thigh, and doing an extremely good job of distracting Harry from his fierce, determined search. Harry, already strung up and strung out, nearly leaped off his broom.

"Get off me, Malfoy," Harry spat, giving the other boy a shove that nearly sent him off his broom.

"Afraid you're starting to enjoy it, Potter?" Malfoy laughed and shoved back, ending up practically sitting on Harry's broom whilst Harry hung precariously from the other side, trying furiously to right himself.

"This is pathetic, even for you," Harry said viciously, regaining his seat. "Trying to distract me with seduction. You've tried every single possible tactic to try and steal the Snitch from me, but nothing has ever worked. You can't beat me, Malfoy, so I don't know why you even bother trying."

Draco sneered. "You might be surprised," he said, spotting the Snitch over an unsuspecting Harry's shoulder, and making an inelegant dive for it. Harry immediately went after him, giving Draco's broom a vicious kick that made the Slytherin lose his momentum. Harry was dimly aware of the crowd roaring in the background, the wind streaming in his face; but it was the other boy breathing fiercely next to him that took up most of Harry's attention.

They followed the leaping, darting Snitch as one, practically glued together and flying with absolute speed and precision. Draco pushed Harry off line time and time again. Harry, however, gave as good as he got, at one point putting a knee under Draco's and lifting up suddenly, nearly tipping Draco off his broom. It was a filthy tactic worthy of a Slytherin, and for a moment Draco was almost impressed.

The Snitch went into a dive, and with a gut-swooping wrench the two Seekers went after it, diving toward the ground at alarming speed, each knowing they would not give way, each knowing that the other would rather die than pull out. Faster and faster they went, hurtling toward the ground like a green and red bullet, not so much flying as plummeting, at absolute terminal velocity. As they dove, Draco shoved Harry ferociously, but Harry remained unmoved, squinting in concentration. The Snitch was wavering, he was sure of it. Draco was so focussed on hitting Harry that he hadn't really been watching the golden ball. Harry knew, suddenly, that it was going to pull out, and pull out to the left.

Before the Snitch had even moved off course, Harry was pulling out of the dive pre-emptively, arcing off to the left in an agonising loop. The crowd gasped. Harry Potter, pulling out of a competitive dive? As far as anyone knew, it had never happened. Draco didn't move off course, following the Snitch to within feet of the grass, his face screwed up in concentration. And suddenly, just as Draco's grasping fingers touched the glittering golden wings, the Snitch took a sudden bound skyward, and right into Harry's waiting hand. It was absolutely brilliantly done.

Draco pulled out of the dive and up toward a grinning Harry, his eyes wide in disbelief. For a single moment of unguarded triumph, he had really believed that he had a chance of winning over Harry Potter. It had been beautiful. Damn you, reality, he thought morosely.

Harry smirked as Draco reached his level. "You were saying?" he inquired politely.

"That you were a prat, actually. And that the only reason you could catch the Snitch so consistently was because you and it share identical brain capacities," Draco spat, too downcast to even try for a witty rejoinder.

"Still hurts, does it Malfoy?" Harry asked in a voice dripping with false concern, as they began to drift back to the ground. "Even though I've beaten you every match since second year? Perhaps Quidditch simply isn't your game. Maybe Daddy should sponsor you in a new sport...water polo, perhaps, or ballet..."

"Like to see me in tights, wouldn't you Potter?" Draco spat. But there was laughter in his voice.

"Been there," Harry said, remembering a time in the previous year when Draco had been dared to dress for the day as Robin Hood and strut up and down the Slytherin breakfast table singing the Men in Tights theme song. "Wasn't pretty." Harry was a liar. For some reason, Draco Malfoy looked good in everything, even tights.

"Better than how you looked when the Veela...erm, attacked you," Draco smirked, also filling his bollocks quota for the day. "The terrified look on your face was the stuff of fantasy, Potter."

"You fantasise about me?" Harry said, his smirk rivalling Draco's. "Why Draco, you pervy sod. Here's me thinking you hated me..."

"I do hate you, Potter. I hate absolutely everything about you. You are a complete prick," Draco said with upmost conviction.

"And you are absolutely nothing, Malfoy. A total and utter non-entity. Not even a blip on the radar screen. You are a waste of perfectly good oxygen, and an ugly git to boot."

At this, Draco lost his temper, and suddenly got all up in Harry's face. "And who the fuck do you think you are, Potter, telling me I'm not worth anything? You who have everything and waste it all. If anyone is not worthy of their own fame and talent, it's you."

Harry looked at Draco in surprise, finding him suddenly close enough to kiss. The other boy wore an expression of utter, utter hatred. There was no laughter in those dove-grey eyes now; they had hardened to ice over asphalt, hard and cold with white fire, completely frightening. But Harry didn't scare easily, and met the frigid stare with equanimity.

"I'm Harry-the-fucking-Sex-God-Potter. And that means I don't have to listen to your shit," Harry spat, stung by Draco's words.

Draco appeared to shake himself, and looked away briefly. When he met Harry's stare, the cool veneer was back over his hooded eyes. "By all means, Potter, ignore it while you can. But be careful who you push away. You might find that being a Sex God counts for nothing when no-one will even look at you."

"I'm terrified," Harry said flatly.

"And I'm suddenly very bored with this conversation," Draco drawled bitingly, turning away.

"Running off again, Malfoy?" Harry asked, admiring the back view suddenly presented to him. "Someone could be forgiven for thinking you yellow."

"I'm no coward, Potter," Draco spat.

"I know what you are," Harry said slowly.

Draco was quiet for a long time, unsure how to interpret that enigmatic statement. Then he tossed his head dismissively, smirked, and placed a hand deliberately on Harry's crotch. "And I know that you want it, Harry Potter."

Harry looked at Draco expressionlessly. "Perhaps you should've been a beater, Malfoy. If you were half as good at catching the Snitch as you are at hanging onto a bat, Slytherin'd be unbeatable.

Harry flew off, leaving Draco cursing the air blue.

* * * *

"I'm really not sure we should be doing this, 'Mione," Ron whined for the fifth time on Sunday morning.

"Don't be a prat, Ron,' Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

They were sitting in the Gryffindor common room, surrounded by prostrate, hung-over forms draped across armchairs and rugs in a most decorative fashion. The most riotous piss up had ensued from Harry's brilliant Snitch capture the previous afternoon; Ron had smuggled in a keg of Butterbooze® from the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes enterprise (with no teachers the wiser), and someone had got hold of a case of Firewhiskey. The Gryffindors had got absolutely rat-arse, shit-face plastered, and they had enjoyed every second. As such, no-one but Ron and Hermione were stirring, although it was well past lunchtime.

"I feel bad, ganging up against Harry like this. It just seems wrong, paying a girl to come here and shag him," Ron wailed. The subject of their discussion was still, as far as they knew, sleeping up in his dorm room. The Sex God always had been a lazy git.

"Well," Hermione said with a wicked grin. "Look at it this way. Harry will just be miserable all month if he doesn't get shagged early. We're doing him a favour.'

"What makes you so sure it'll work anyway? I mean, Cho Chang went through the entirety of her school years here without once getting together with Harry. I'd've thought that suggested that they weren't, you know, compatible...?"

"That's exactly why this will work," Hermione said as if this were the most obvious thing in the world. "Cho Chang is the One That Got Away." She said this with Great Significance. "There are rules about this sort of thing."

"Rules?" Ron asked quizzically.

"Cho is the One That Got Away, the unreciprocated crush, the one great unconsummated passion of Harry's life," Hermione said patiently, as if she were reading from a dictionary. "She's the one he couldn't have, a black mark on his perfect Sex God score sheet; she is an unattainable challenge, untouchable and remote." Hermione paused dramatically. "She is the one person that could make Harry give up this bet."

"Hm," Ron said, unconvinced.

"Look, Ron," Hermione said exasperatedly. "If we send Cho Chang up there in full-on seduction mode, there is NO WAY Harry will be able to resist shagging her. Alarm bells will go off, we'll end up with enough money to pay Cho off, settle Harry's bet with Malfoy and have a substantial amount to spare, and Harry gets to shag his one unrequited love. Everybody wins in this situation. Except possibly Malfoy."

Ron grinned worriedly. "But what if Harry's really serious about winning this bet, 'Mione? He could be really put out if we make him lose."

"Don't fret, love," Hermione said with a grin. "Harry'll thank us for this, once he comes round."

"Hrm," Ron said doubtfully. But then, Cho Chang walked in wearing nothing but a smile and a sexy, utterly miniscule schoolgirl outfit that made Hermione wonder why the girl had bothered getting dressed at all.

A bemused sort of smile formed on Ron's face.

"Perhaps you're right, 'Mione," he said abstractedly. "I think Harry will thank us for this."

"He's upstairs, Cho," Hermione said with a wink. "Go earn us all some money, would you?"

Cho grinned. "Sure thing, Herm. See you in an hour or so."

She tripped off up the stairs in her high heels, leaving Hermione and a dumbfounded Ron to share an anticipatory grin in her wake.

"What'd I tell you?" Hermione crowed.

Ron was practically in a salivating stupor, and she watched him indulgently.

Finally, he shook himself out of it. "Fancy a game of chess?"

* * * *

It was the sudden, sharp, aching pleasure that dragged Harry from deep sleep. It clawed at him, pulling him out of a bizarre and disturbing world in which bananas had legs and walked around foppishly slapping people across the face with white gloves, Veela chased him up and down the length of the Quidditch pitch in red sequinned gowns and high heels, singing all the while, and Draco Malfoy rode his broom around bare-arse naked wearing a tartan hat over his bits, shouting "I am GOD" and pelting Harry with bits of mashed potato.

"Mmnn..." Harry groaned, slitting his eyes in pleasure and letting himself slowly come awake, enjoying the sensations that were flooding through his body. Oh, surely nothing ever felt this good, he thought in rapture. So fucking good....

Suddenly, all in a rush, he realised where he was and what was happening, and sat up abruptly.

"What the sodding hell?" he howled, nearly dislodging Cho Chang from his lap where she was in the process of removing his pyjama bottoms with her teeth.

"Cho?" he asked incredulously. She desisted, and stood slowly, letting him have the benefit of her slender body and its non-existent covering. Harry's eyes inadvertently raked her from top to toe, taking in the skewed tie, indecently tight school blouse knotted above her midriff, under which her breasts strained in a visible black pushup bra; tiny little pleated skirt which barely covered her groin, knee-high socks and six inch closed-toe heels. Her gorgeous black hair was loose about her slender shoulders and her sly, Asiatic face was bathed in the glow of the most seductive smile Harry had ever seen.

"Oh. Holy hell," Harry murmured. "Hello, Jezebel."

Cho smirked. "Hello," she whispered seductively. "Have you missed me, Harry?" She started inching closer, trailing her fingertips from his left hand that was clenched convulsively about the bedclothes, up his muscular arm and across to his chest, where she drew a nail slowly across his nipple and made him groan with want.

"Nice to see you again, Cho," Harry whimpered, closing his eyes against the temptation as she began to crawl up his body, her cleavage foremost in his view, trailing hot, wet kisses in her wake.

"I know I haven't always been very nice to you, Harry," she whispered, taking his earlobe between her teeth and sliding her hips across his.

"No, you haven't," Harry gasped, hands fisting the bedclothes.

"I can be nice, Harry," she purred. "D'you want me to show you how nice I can be?"

"Yes, actually," Harry said a bit redundantly, as his hands came up to grasp her slender waist and then trailed slowly up her ribcage. His breathing was erratic and his eyes starting to go unfocussed as she started a slow assault on his neck, using her tongue with great skill.

Cho smiled triumphantly into the crook of his neck. "You never could resist me, Harry Potter. You always wanted me," she practically crowed. She loved her power games, this one. She had a prime spot in the line-up at Madame Dominatrix's Palace of Pain on weekends. Particularly skilled in the use of a horsewhip and fluffy pink handcuffs, I hear.

"Only because I couldn't have you," Harry replied, his hands stilling and his expression going suddenly chilly. "Because you never once gave me a chance."

He pushed Cho away from him and stood up, shuddering with unfulfilled arousal. He pinned Cho with a death glare. "So why don't you explain to me why in the bloody everlasting hell you're smarming all over me now?"

Cho looked sullen and bolshy. "I wanted to see you, Harry," she said. "I wanted to see how much you've improved."

"Liar," Harry smirked. "Spill, Cho."

Cho never could keep her mouth shut around a secret.

"The Bet," she said succinctly.

"Ah," Harry said bleakly. "It figures. You would never sleep with me unless you had some kind of monetary encouragement. If I didn't know exactly how hot and desirable I am, I'd probably be having some kind of self-esteem crisis right now. Fortunately my ego is large enough to withstand even you and all your bullshit."

Cho looked at him in disbelief. How he had changed from the child she had known at school. His arrogance was alarmingly attractive.

"How much did Draco Malfoy offer you?" Harry asked idly, wanting to kill his nemesis quite a lot at this point.

"I was offered a hundred galleons," she said sulkily, refusing to budge on the subject of her anonymous benefactors. She began to advance on him slowly, removing her tie and beginning to unbutton her shirt. "But I'm thinking I might just do it for free. You've changed, Harry. You have become so confident and sexy. I suddenly want you. Right now."

"Hum," Harry said with affected boredom, having to close his eyes against the sensual torment of her body as it was slowly revealed to him. "How long I waited to hear you say that."

Cho smiled sexily, and slid her hands up his naked torso. "So you've changed your mind then, and decided that mind-blowing sex with me is worth more than a poncy little bet?"

Harry raised an eyebrow and smirked at her. She all but quivered.

He deliberated, and then set her firmly away from him. "Not really, no."

"Why you teasing little prat!" Cho all but growled, hastily doing her blouse back up and straightening her skirt.

"Yes, I know. Irritating isn't it?" He grinned blithely.

Cho looked sulky.

"Oh, how the tables have turned," Harry said with gentle maliciousness.

"Oh, shut up you horrid little git," Cho burst out. "I never wanted you anyway, but when that Hermione bint owled me out of the blue and told me she and that idiot boyfriend of hers would give me a hundred galleons to shag you, I could hardly say no, could I? Even if you are completely beneath my notice! I never wanted you, not ever!"

Harry yawned. "You about done? I'd love to get some more sleep..."

"Ooooh!" she shrieked in frustration. "I hate you Harry Potter!"

"Funnily enough," Harry drawled, "I get that a lot. It seems to be losing its effect."

She shot him a death glare and then turned abruptly, flouncing from his room with a little arse-wiggle that once upon a time would have sent him into a stupor for three days.

Harry sat down on his bed like a puppet with its strings cut. The fact that Cho had blamed Hermione and Ron was only just penetrating the sleep-slash-arousal fog that had taken up residence where his brain was supposed to sit.

"Hermione and Ron?" Harry thought in confusion. "But why would they...? What the sod is going on?"

Harry stood up and, throwing on an old Quidditch t-shirt, stalked elegantly downstairs after Cho.

* * * *

Cho clomped down the stairs in her chunky heels. The sulky expression on her face did not do much for her appearance, instead she just looked miserable.

Ron and Hermione exchanged an incredulous glance.

"You're done already??" Ron asked in surprise. "Harry must be more hard up than I thought!"

Cho growled quietly. "He didn't want me," she enunciated quietly and succinctly, with more than a hint of disbelief in her tone.

"Oh," Hermione said. "How...unexpected."

Cho held out her hand, eyebrows raised into her thick fringe and an expectant look on her face.

"You don't actually think we're going to pay you now that you've failed?" Ron asked incredulously. "D'you think we're idiots, or what?"

Cho glared at him. "I tried. He was not interested. That is not my fault. I always thought he'd turn out gay, anyway."

Ron scoffed. "Actually," he said maliciously, "Harry is bi, and has shagged pretty much every good-looking girl, with the exception of Hermione, in the entire school. If he didn't want you, it must have been your fault."

Cho looked extremely pissed off. Then she grinned at the pair of them malevolently. "I told him it was you that paid me. He was unimpressed."

And then off she flounced, heels clicking sharply and arse-wiggle firmly in place. She was quite a flouncer, our Cho. Silly bint.

Ron and Hermione watched her go with a mixture of frustration and despair. They shared a look of trepidation.

"Oh crap," Ron said, paling as he heard vengeful footfalls on the stairs from the boys' dormitory. "Oh absolute crap!"

* * * *

Harry found the targets of his ire sitting opposite a chess board together by the fire, looking very innocent and charming with their red and bushy brown heads silhouetted in gold and crimson.

They simultaneously turned near-identical startled and nervous faces to him as he descended the stairs.

Harry glared at them.

This always worked.

"It wasn't meant to be mean, Harry!" Hermione burst out. "We just wanted you to have an easy out of the bet and for us to make some money. It wasn't really our fault, it was just an idea we came up with and we wanted you to finally get together with Cho and we didn't mean to make you mad and IT WAS ALL RON'S FAULT!"

Ron looked boot-faced. "MY fault?!" he screeched. "It was YOUR idea in the first place! I just went along with it!"

"Well, you didn't take much convincing, did you?" Hermione replied scathingly, conveniently forgetting the half hour she had just spent, oddly enough, convincing him.

Ron just glared at her incredulously.

"Ahem," Harry said, amused. "Not to interrupt, but hadn't someone better fill me in on what exactly is going on? I'd've thought that you two, of all people, would be the LAST to want me to have to cough up a thousand galleons, not that I can't afford it, to Draco Malfoy..."

"Erm," Hermione said indecisively. "Well..."

"Yes and no," Ron said diplomatically. "It's not that we wanted you to fail so much as we wanted to make money off you failing."

"And how in God's name does that work? Did Malfoy offer to pay you if you helped him to win the bet?"

"Not exactly," Ron replied, scratching an ear absently.

"THEN WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS ALL ABOUT?!!" Harry shouted at him, losing his patience entirely. He was gratified to see his best friends jump a foot in the air. All around him, groans could be heard from hung-over Gryffindors as they awoke reluctantly from their comas.

"There's a betting system," Hermione blurted out. "People can put a bet on each day of your month of celibacy, and win a pool if you fail on that day. We had a bet on for today."

"WHAT?!" Harry exploded.

"It's quite a clever system, actually. Seamus masterminded it, although it was originally Malfoy's idea. There's quite a lot of money involved -" Ron went on.

"How much?" Harry asked, suddenly supremely interested.

"The pool stood at two large last we checked. That would've been enough to settle your debt with Malfoy, pay Cho, and still have a bit left over, because there wasn't anyone else on for today - most people are betting on the third week, for some reason. Be worth it, really, wouldn't it?" Ron said.

Harry looked thoughtful. "How long has this been going on?" He was having very vengeful thought toward a certain blonde Slytherin.

"Since day one, mate."

"I think you'd better show me," Harry said, and went upstairs to get his cloak.

* * * *

Draco was sitting alone by the fire in the Slytherin common room when Ron and Hermione walked in. They left the portrait door open longer than was strictly necessary, he noted, but didn't comment.

"Weasley, Granger," he said quietly, sneering a little. "I notice that you've a bet on for today. How...interesting."

"We've, uh, actually decided that it probably wasn't the brightest idea," Ron said, going scarlet.

"Tried and failed already, Weasley?" Draco laughed, showing great astuteness.

"How'd you know?" Ron asked, incredulous, before Hermione could stop him.

"Look at the disappointed moue on Granger's face. It doesn't take a great feat of intuitive reasoning."

"What are you so happy about, Malfoy?" Hermione asked with little interest. "You look positively gleeful."

"I am not gleeful. I am distraught. You two, of all people, probably had the best chance at making Potter lose the bet - after all, you know about all his kinky little fantasies and sordid affairs...Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if a threesome with you two was the only sexual permutation Harry had yet to attempt, and therefore might be encouraged to try in pursuit of a complete sexual career."

There was a small, inexplicable, coughing 'ew' sound from one corner of the room.

"Therefore," Draco continued, undeterred, "if you were unable to make him lose control, he must have more will-power than I gave him credit for."

The corner gave a muffled noise that sounded remarkably like 'that's right, you git'.

Ron and Hermione looked up at the board, hiding their smiles. The last time they'd seen it, only a few names had been written up. Now the parchment was positively teeming with green writing, tallying up names and figures with alarming precision.

Ron squinted in surprise as he looked at day twenty-nine. "Malfoy..."

"What is it, Weasley? I don't have all day," Draco drawled.

"You've got your name down on the second to last day...what -?"

"Think what the pot will be at that point in time, Weasley. It makes perfectly good business sense to bet when the pool is at its absolute maximum. I shall just have to ensure that Harry fails on that particular day."

"What makes you think you'll succeed where everyone else fails?" Hermione asked, curiosity warring with distaste.

Draco just smiled enigmatically. "Don't you have places to be?" he asked boredly.

Ron and Hermione exchanged glances, and then looked meaningfully around at the verbose little corner of the room. Draco looked too, with great interest. In tandem the Gryffindor couple turned and headed out the portrait hole.

Harry didn't leave with them, choosing instead to remain and study the parchment before him in something akin to awe. The system was so elaborate, so well set up. It was quite astonishing. Even more astonishing was some of the names that were written up - McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Seamus (on day four no less - so he WAS behind the Veela, Harry thought. That little potato-eating bastard! Oh, he will pay!), all the Ravenclaw girls he had slept with, a whole load of 'anon's', Terry Boot (I thought we were friends...), Millicent Bulstrode (boy am I sorry I shagged her...), the third year Gryffindors who had collectively formed the 'Harry Potter fan-club', Professor Snape, the list went on and on. Holy shit - even Trelawney had her name down for day twelve. Harry looked at that a long time, suddenly terrified.

With a slight whimper, Harry turned and fled from the room, failing, in his haste, to employ his customary stealth and instead snatching the portrait door open and slamming it behind him. It was all very uncouth.

As the portrait hole closed, Draco Malfoy smiled complacently.

So Potter finally knows, he thought meditatively, tenting his fingers under his chin and tapping either side of his jaw with his index fingers. He thought it made him look quite dashing.

This could make things very interesting indeed.