A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity!
Win a DATE with HARRY POTTER!
At this years fourth annual New Horizons charity auction
and gala there will be a most rare and unusual item up for bid,
a Date with the hero of the wizarding world, Harry Potter!
This is the first time our young hero has been single during
the auction and has offered the dinner date as a way raise funds.
All the eligible young witches and wizards are no doubt jealous
of those lucky few who have invitations to this exclusive event-
“Are you reading that thing again?” Pansy sighed as she swept into her living room, flopping down on the cream coloured couch beside Draco.
“No,” Draco said blandly, his eyes drifting down the rest of the article he almost had memorized by now.
Pansy leaned into his arm, “Would you win Potter?' she asked.
“You mean if I was even going? No one is going to give a former death eater an invitation.” He frowned, folding the paper in half so he couldn't see the article but couldn't bring himself to put it down.
“But would you?” Pansy asked, and before he could answer she held up a square of ornate card stock.
Draco's eyes widened, “Is that-?”
“It is,” Pansy said smugly, “It's Astoria's plus one. It took me weeks to convince her to let you have it.”
Draco's breath caught in his throat and he reached for the invitation.
Pansy twitched it back, “Draco,” she said quietly, “I will only give this to you if you win that ridiculous Potter date.”
“Otherwise, I will be going with my lovely girlfriend who invited me in the first place,” Pansy said sternly.
Draco's voice came out strangled, “Win? You expect me to just go and-”
“Bid on Potter and win. You're certainly not lacking in funds, you need to stop being a coward.”
He flinched. “Potter has never and will never care for me,” he said, the words were almost physically painful to speak out loud.
Pansy sighed, “Then find out. You'll never have another chance like this, Draco. Once you know, you can move on and stop sulking.”
“Malfoy's don't sulk,” Draco said peevishly.
“This one does,” Pansy said elbowing him in the side and then moved the invitation back in front of him.
Draco took it hesitantly, running his thumb over the gold embossed filigree around the edge.
“And just so you know,” Pansy said casually, “if you don't win this auction Blaise, Astoria and I will make you suffer.”
Draco swallowed hard and nodded stiffly.
Pansy patted his arm, “We're all sick to death of seeing you pine after that ridiculous Gryffindor. This will be the end of it, yes?”
He gripped the invitation tighter, “Yes.”
Draco shifted his shoulders as another bead of sweat crawled down his back. His dress robes were new, black accented with silver embroidery and so stiff, he felt as if the robes had been constructed around him and sewn in place. He looked down at the round placard about the size of a dinner plate in his hand, marked with the number 134. He hadn't raised it once this evening.
Draco looked back up at the stage and felt more sweat slip down the small of his back. Potter was standing on the stage looking even more awkward than usual. This whole auction thing hadn't been Potter's idea if his appearance was anything to go by, his hair was even more of an absolute mess than it was normally and he was wearing plain black dress robes that were at least three years of out fashion.
The bidding had been going on for ages now. It had started at one hundred galleons and had moved quickly at first but soon the bidding pool had narrowed down to six and then four and now there were just three at the front, a man, a young woman and an older woman. They were only moving the bid up by the minimum and then would glare at each as they raised their number into the air.
The bid went to eight hundred galleons and the young woman shook her head and stepped back, her shoulders slumping in defeat. That left only the man and the older woman. Draco was standing by the wall out of the way but he was fairly certain he recognized the last two bidders, the man was an investment manager in Gringotts, Franklin, maybe. Draco had spoken with him a few times, he was very dependable and quiet. He never won any of the big accounts but his investments were always very solid and safe. Draco would've never expected him to be someone with an eight hundred galleon interest in Harry Potter.
Draco wasn't as certain about the woman but he thought she might be the owner of The Prophet, he couldn't recall her name. He frowned to himself, a date night exclusive would be a very solid investment for the paper, or maybe she was just another Potter groupie. Draco despised both possibilities.
“We have a bid of eight hundred and twenty galleons, will anyone go eight and thirty?” Granger asked, her eyes alight. She had obviously never expected the bidding to go so high.
Draco watched the two at the front, his heart pounding so hard in his chest he almost couldn't breathe. Franklin shook his head.
“Eight hundred and twenty, going once!”
Draco's hands shook, he forced himself to take a deep breath.
“Eight hundred and twenty, going twice!”
He raised his number and it flashed blue over the heads of the crowd, “Nine hundred galleons.” He said, projecting his voice to carry and feeling immensely grateful his father had coached him mercilessly on public speaking from a young age.
All eyes turned to him, followed by a wave of whispering.
“Nine-” Granger stuttered in disbelief. She narrowed her eyes as she recognized him and she said stiffly, “Nine hundred galleons!”
Potter straightened his shoulders, staring at Draco with an intensity that made him shiver.
“Do we have nine hundred and ten?” Granger called out.
The newspaper woman raised her number and then glared back at Draco.
“Nine hundred and ten! The current bid is at nine hundred and ten galleons,” The relief in Granger's voice made Draco bristle, “Nine hundred and twenty galleons? Anyone want to bid nine-”
Draco raised his number, “One thousand galleons,” he drawled.
The whispering instantly swelled to shouts intermixed with hissed conversations.
When the newspaper woman snapped around to stare at him, Draco raised an eyebrow. He leaned back against the wall, needing the support more than he would ever admit, carefully keeping his expression cool and blank. He wasn't going to let any of them see him sweat now, even though the truth of it was there was enough moisture under his robes they were fast becoming a second skin.
Granger flourished her wand and a loud bang went off, startling everyone into silence, “The bid is at one thousand galleons, does anyone want to raise it to one thousand ten galleons?”
Draco saw the hesitation in the newspaper woman, she glanced back at him, then up at Potter. She slowly raised her card and it flashed a garish magenta.
“One thousand and ten galleons! One thousand and twenty?” She looked straight at Draco, her expression strangely resigned.
Draco clenched his jaw, he'd be damned if he lost now or let that weasel of a woman win anything over him. He flipped his number up, “ Two thousand galleons.”
There were no shouts this time, only shocked silence, the whole room seeming to hold its breath.
The newspaper woman glared at him with a vicious hatred and Draco knew that the Prophet would never have a good word to say about him again, not that it had been complimentary before. Her bidding number crumpled in her hands and then in a fit of pique she incendioed it into ash.
“Two thousand galleons,” Granger's faint voice echoed through the room, “Will anyone bid two thousand and ten? Two thousand and ten anyone?” she paused and the silence that followed was uncomfortable, “Two thousand galleons, going once.”
Draco held his breath.
“Going twice,” She paused.
Everyone was watching with the rapt fascination of an execution.
Granger took a deep breath, scanning the crowd without much hope, “Sold! Dinner with Harry Potter, to bidder one hundred and thirty-four for two thousand galleons.”
The applause that followed was stilted and quickly died out. Draco felt more than a few scathing looks aimed his way and pointedly ignored them. He had a great deal of practice.
Granger cleared her throat, “All auction winners please come to the stage! All second place bidders should also stay and provide their information, should the winning bidders fail to pay their bid within a week you will be contacted!” She put on a bright and only slightly strained smile, “Thank you, for making the fourth annual New Horizons charity auction a success! If you wish to make a donation we have attendants near the doors and under the banners at the side of the hall. Remember, all donations are for a good cause and are tax deductible!” There was a weak patter of laughter at the non-joke, “We have an open floo and side-along apparation available for those who have had too much to drink. Remember, splitching can happen to you! Don't drink and apparate! Have a wonderful evening!”
Draco remained leaning against the wall, waiting for the crowds to thin and, so that when he did finally stand, his knees wouldn't give out under him. The large ballroom was almost empty by the time he went to the small table tucked in the back of the room. Potter was sitting on the edge of the stage, swinging his legs idly back and forth. Up close, Draco saw that Potter's robes were even worse than he had thought, they were wrinkled and starting to grey from being washed rather than being properly spelled clean. He was also wearing the oldest, ugliest pair of trainers Draco had ever seen. He supposed they had probably been white once.
Granger glared up from her paperwork when Draco stopped in front of her, her mouth pressed into a tight thin line of distrust.
Draco felt it was quite uncalled for. For the last five years since the war was over, he had been very careful to be a well behaved, law abiding citizen. He even refrained from hexing people back when he was attacked on the streets, no matter how badly he wanted to. He was quite proud of himself for that.
“Would you prefer coin or a cheque?” He asked calmly.
“Coin,” Granger's tone was challenging, “Gringotts takes too long with cheques and transfers.”
He raised an eyebrow. Did she think he would bow out because of something like that? More likely she simply wished to inconvenience him. He took a small drawstring bag from his pocket that was connected directly with his small personal safe back at the manor, “How would you prefer to do this, Granger?”
She pulled out a bottomless vault bag and Draco was mildly impressed that she had managed to convince the goblins to part with one for even an evening. She put a counting charm around the mouth of the bag. Draco dutifully tapped the side of his wallet and murmured the spell words, tilting it over the vault bag and watching a stream of golden coins pour from one bag to the other until the counter ticked up to two thousand.
Granger turned in her chair and a goblin appeared from behind the stage to take the vault bag. Draco supposed that explained how she was allowed to use one. She and the goblin were immediately embroiled in paperwork and Draco was ignored, no doubt on purpose. With nothing else to distract him, he was forced to look at Potter.
His chest clenched painfully tight when he met Potter's startlingly green eyes. Potter at least had the decency to look embarrassed when Draco caught him staring. Draco wished he could tell if there was a blush under that luminescent brown skin.
“Err,” Potter hesitated, “This is a bit weird to say, but thanks for winning the auction. I don't think I could have stood it if Chisme Ruido had won.”
Draco's eyebrows twitched up, “So that's her name? Irritating woman.”
Potter's mouth twitched, “Yeah. She owns the Prophet, though” Potter ruffled his hair, looking guilty and nervous, “She won't take this very well.”
Draco shrugged with practiced nonchalance, “She knows better than to try and slander me. I have a lawyer on retainer for just that reason. It won't stop her from rehashing my past, again.”
Potter smiled ruefully, “They do seem to like tacking 'former death eater' on your name.”
He felt his breath hitch at the thought that Potter might look for mentions of him in the paper as Draco did him. He quickly pushed the idea away before he got his hopes up.
“Sorry, that was- I didn't mean-”
“To be quite so tactless?” Draco offered without any bite.
Potter rubbed his neck and looked away.
Eager to dispel the awkward atmosphere Draco waved a hand languidly, “No matter. I'm quite used to it. What's that saying-? It's water off a quaillard's back.”
“What's a quaillard?” Potter asked.
Draco suppressed his initial instinct to insult Potter. He took a deep breath and went with the safe answer, “A semi-aquatic avian that sports scales along the underside of its neck and stomach that are very useful in the making of a variety of potions. Its call sounds like a frog.” He abruptly closed his mouth before he started rambling.
“Oh,” Potter blinked and offered a tentative and appreciative smile, “Never heard of them before. The muggle saying is water off a duck's back.”
“If our Care of Magical Creatures Teacher wasn't so fixated on creatures that could kill or maim, we might have learned about quaillards in school,” Even as the words left Draco's mouth he was suddenly petrified by the thought that he had overstepped and ruined everything before it could even begin.
“That's Hagrid, for you,” Potter laughed.
Draco relaxed into a faint smile and Potter looked almost startled at the change in his expression.
“Right!” Granger dropped back into her seat and pushed a rather lengthy contract across that table at Draco, “So, your winning bid entitles you a meal with Harry Potter. The reservations are in two weeks, Saturday at seven. The dinner is at a muggle restaurant, the location of which you will be owled the day prior. There is a dress code, you will need to wear a muggle suit.
“No other people are permitted to join you. If you reveal the location of the meal to the media or any other parties, Harry's obligations to the dinner are void. Likewise, you may not pressure Harry into any sort of business or news ventures. All other stipulations are in the contract,” she held out a quill.
Draco took it from her and carefully skimmed over the paper, “May I have a copy of this?” He asked, nib poised over the bottom.
“Of course,” Granger nodded stiffly.
Draco scrawled his signature across the bottom, feeling the faint tug of a binding magical contract. He would send his lawyer the contract to be on the safe side though he doubted Granger would ever do anything duplicitous. It's not as if she knew he was going to win after all.
Granger duplicated the paper and handed him the copy with a nod, “Thank you for your donation, it will do a lot of good for those still recovering from the war.”
“What she means is your bid was more money than we made from the rest of the auction combined,” Potter said.
“Shut it, Harry,” Granger grumbled as she gathered up all her papers and slid them into a small beaded bag.
Draco let himself catch Potter's piercing gaze once more before he left, “Have a good evening.” he said politely.
Potter waved, “See you in a fortnight.”
Draco glanced back and gave him a tentative nod.