Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott sat across from each other at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall. The rest of the crowd of students had dissipated following the dinner, but the seventh-year boys remained. In front of each of them on the table lay a piece of parchment, where they had been, over the course of the last hour and a half, meticulously writing the names of all the girls at Hogwarts between fifth and seventh year, diving them evenly between the two.
“It can’t be Luna,” Blaise murmured, crossing off the Ravenclaw’s name on his own sheet.
“Why not?” Theo asked, frowning and glancing over at Blaise’s paper.
“She’s dating me, you tosser.”
“I mean, it’s never stopped him before.”
Blaise rolled his eyes but continued scratching out her name.
“Draco may be a moron, but he’s not suicidal. Besides, Luna would never.”
Theo grunted in agreement, looking over the names on his list. “Who are we missing?”
“Are you sure we shouldn’t include the guys, too?” Blaise asked. “Maybe that’s why he won’t tell us…”
Theo shook his head. “Nah, Draco doesn’t swing that way. Remember when he and I made out drunk that one time? Told me afterwards. Oh my god, you should’ve seen his face, poor man thought he was breaking my heart, as if I would never get over the illustrious Draco Lucius Malfoy…”
Blaise chuckled, lowering his eyes back to the parchment. “Don’t let Dean hear you say that.”
Theo laughed; a full body affair that sent reverberations down the table. “Thomas knows he has my heart and soul. Besides, Draco’s face is too pointy, it was like making out with a pine tree.”
“What about Davis?” Blaise asked, running his finger down the list of names to double-check. “And… oh! Abbott. Which one do you want?”
Theo pursed his lips, thoughtfully, as he drummed his quill on the tabletop.
“I bet… I’m going to say Abbott. If it was Tracey, we’d already know.”
Blaise nodded, as he wrote Tracey Davis at the bottom of his sheet. “A fair hypothesis, but we really are out in the weeds here.”
Theo smirked. “But that’s what makes it so damn entertaining! It’s really a game of odds… reminds me of those cards games we used to play at Pansy’s when her parents were out.”
“But now, at least, we have real money to bet,” Blaise murmured, his eyes moving quickly over the page as he re-read the names on his list. “Are you alright with your pool?”
“Hell yeah, I am,” Theo exclaimed, a shit-eating grin appearing on his face. “I’ve got Astoria, both the Patil twins? It has to be one of those.”
Blaise shook his head, a smug smile playing at his lips. “You forgotten that I have Weasley. I think it’s game over.”
“For the last time, Draco Malfoy is not fucking Potter’s girl.”
“Why not?” Blaise challenged, pointing his quill at Theo. “Makes sense why he’s being so goddamn secretive about it.”
“You know that if Draco snagged the Chosen One’s girlfriend, he would never fucking shut up about it.”
“That’s where you’re mistaken, dear friend,” Blaise responded. “He’d love the secret. The knowledge that he had taken her from him, right under his nose… intoxicating.”
“Blaise, it sounds like you’re shagging Ginny.”
Blaise’s head swiveled to both sides quickly.
“Shut up, don’t you dare let Luna hear you say that.”
“You know she wouldn’t believe it. She has those damn Nargles to know everyone secrets, she couldn’t be fooled.”
Blaise grimaced. “So, are we good then? We know the rules?”
Theo nodded, folding up his piece of parchment and placing it in his pocket. “I cannot wait to demolish you, Mr. Zabini.”
“Same goes to you, Nott.”
The two men reached out and grasped hands, sealing the deal in one firm handshake.
“Twenty galleons,” Blaise stated.
Theo nodded. “Now we just have to figure out who Draco’s shagging.”
As easy a goal as it sounded for two Slytherins who shared a dormitory with Draco, it had turned out to be quite the impossible task.
For the past few months, since the beginning of their seventh year, Draco had been returning to the common room late, sometimes not coming back at all. But each time he did, there were tell-tale marks on his neck, his hair was disheveled, and his normally occluded eyes were open, nearly maniacal.
From living with the guy for seven years, Theo and Blaise recognized the look easily.
Draco was shagging some new broad, almost nightly, and had been for months now. Blaise and Theo had forgotten what his skin looked like when it wasn’t marked up by love bites.
But then came the mystery – in the past whenever Draco had a new conquest, like his first time with Pansy in fourth year or that time he slept with Cho Chang in their sixth year, he always bragged. He was an imaginative man and spared no detail when describing his fornicating activities to Blaise and Draco, usually until Theo starting miming vomiting and Blaise left the room, hands over his ears.
But this time – nothing.
The first time Draco had returned late, only a week after their arrival at Hogwarts, Theo had shouted in glee.
“Oi, mate! Who’s the lucky girl?”
And Draco, in an uncharacteristic demonstration of bashfulness, had blushed beet red and muttered.
“None of your bloody business.”
Blaise, who had been reclining in his own bed at the time, turned to Theo and raised an eyebrow.
“What’s this? Is this the Slytherin Sex God refusing to share his exploits? Have we been transported to an alternate dimension?”
“Shut up, Blaise,” Draco growled, falling into his own bed and closing the curtains around his four-poster.
Blaise and Theo exchanged a confused glance, only the first of what turned into a near daily activity of shared ignorance.
And so had begun the mission that was steadily taking over the entirety of Theo and Blaise’s seventh year, whether they liked it or not:
Discovering which witch at Hogwarts had successfully won Draco Malfoy.
After two months of the marks, the late arrivals, and the dismissals when Theo and Blaise asked who on earth it was, the two friends, drinking in the common room as Draco went off to meet his mistress, had devised a plan.
It was fairly simple in nature, but complex in execution. They had taken the names of all the girls at Hogwarts, fifth year and up, and divided them evenly between the two of them. Blaise had gotten the idea from a muggle he had dated over the summer between fifth and sixth year: the football pool.
They both had their pools of girls at Hogwarts – all of whom were possibilities for Draco’s mystery woman. The person who ended up having the right girl on his list won twenty galleons.
Now, that was the simple part.
Finding out the winner was much more complex.
Theo slid into a seat next to Dean in the library, giving his boyfriend a quick peck.
“Evening, love,” he drawled, glancing at the Gryffindor’s divination homework. “How’s Trelawney’s most recent torture device going?”
Dean rolled his eyes, but Theo could see him trying to suppress a smile. “It’s not torture, it’s prophecy.”
Theo shrugged, leaning his head on Dean’s shoulder and glancing at the miscellaneous shapes on the parchment.
“Looks like badly cooked seafood to me.”
“Well, maybe that’s in your future,” Dean continued, writing out some runes at the bottom of the paper.
“Speaking of my future,” Theo announced, taking the parchment out from within his robes and flourishing it for a moment. “I am in need of your assistance.”
“For?” Dean asked, raising an eye, glancing over at the parchment. “Theo, why the fuck do you just have a list of girls’ names…”
“Long story,” Theo dismissed, waving his hand. “But twenty galleons and my honour is on the line, so would you do a fellow a favour?”
“And what would that favour be?”
Theo glanced down at his list of names quickly. “By chance, have you seen… Lavender Brown or Parvarti Patil leaving the common room at odd hours?”
Dean gave him an incredulous look. “Not… not really. I don’t track them, you know.”
“I’d be offended if you did,” Theo frowned. “But it’s important. Have you noticed either of them acting strange recently? Do you know if, perhaps, they’re dating anyone?”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Is this about Draco and his mystery woman?”
“He won’t bloody tell us, Dean, it’s been two fucking months… it’s enough to drive a man insane.”
“Your curiosity will kill you,” Dean muttered, but acquiesced, glancing at Theo’s name. “Lavender’s dating Seamus, since about two weeks ago. Seems pretty serious, and they’ve been shagging on and off since Ron and her broke up last year. Scratch her out.”
Theo swore under his breath but took the quill out of Dean’s hand and used it to cross out Lavender Brown.
“What about Parvarti?” he mused. “Come on, you’ve lived basically down the hall from her for years. Notice anything new?”
Dean frowned, considering, before shaking his head.
“Not really, I mean everyone’s been a bit off. I think it’s just seventh-year jitters, especially with NEWTs coming up. Gods, Hermione has spent the whole year in the library.”
“Fuck,” Theo muttered, crossing Parvarti off as well. “That’s two of mine down. Blaise is going to go ballistic.”
“What are you two doing?”
Theo frowned. “It’s like a… we’re doing a pool of Hogwarts girls to figure who Draco is boning.”
Dean went slack jawed before bursting into ferocious laughter. “And what do you get if you win?”
“20 Galleons and a solved mystery. Oh - and the right to take the mickey out of Draco. Mostly the last one.”
Blaise had his eyes pinned to Draco in Potions class, not allowing himself to be distracted for a moment. He was laser-focused on how his most annoying friend was interacting with his partner: Daphne Greengrass.
He watched carefully at every interaction the two Slytherins had; as Daphne handed Draco an ingredient, and their fingers touched. At the joke that Draco told that had Daphne trying desperately to hide her giggles. But after an hour of class, there was only one conclusion Blaise could come to.
Daphne Greengrass and Draco Malfoy were not having sex.
Blaise considered himself a good reader of body language; and as Daphne crossed her legs, angling her ankle away from Draco, it was obvious.
The two couldn’t care less about each other’s physical presence.
“Merlin’s ballsack,” he muttered to himself, as he brought out his list, and scratched out one of his top contenders.
They all sat in the Great Hall for dinner. Draco was pouring over his Charms textbook, prepping for their test the next day. Blaise and Theo were sitting across from him, staring at him, without any attempt at hiding their attention, trying to gauge a clue.
“Is there something,” he asked drily, eyes not leaving his textbook. “That you lot would like?”
Theo growled. “Just tell us who you’re shagging.”
“Not a chance,” he answered, indifferent to the plight of his friends.
Blaise sighed, glancing over Draco’s shoulder at the Gryffindor table. He nudged Theo’s rib cage quickly, causing the other boy to double over, coughing to hide his reaction.
“Look,” Blaise said, loudly, obviously. “Who’s that Romilda Vane’s with?”
Draco glanced over his shoulder to witness Romilda Vane, the dark-haired Gryffindor, hanging off of Neville Longbottom’s shoulder. He shrugged, unfazed, before turning back to his textbook.
Completely and utterly unbothered.
“Fuck,” Theo muttered quietly to Blaise. “She was on my list.”
Blaise met Luna in the courtyard, preparing for one of their sunset walks around the lake. He planted a kiss on her snow-white hair, before taking her hand and leading her across the grounds.
“You seem unfocused, Blaise,” she said after ten minutes of near silence.
He sighed. “I’m not. Or I mean… I am unfocused. I just… have you noticed any of your friends acting weird lately?”
Luna shook her head, smiling. “They always say I’m the one acting peculiar.”
Blaise bristled. “No, I don’t mean odd, in the way that you are… like whimsical, bloody fucking perfect… I mean… out of character? Like Lisa or Ginny or Padma. Any of those girls.”
Luna eyed him for a moment before shaking her head. “Not that I’ve noticed. But I tend not to pry into the private lives of my friends. I let them share if they want to.”
Blaise started. “Who said this was about their private lives?”
She shrugged. “Your eyes did. You are not a prying man, usually. You seemed uncomfortable, like you’re asking a question you know that you shouldn’t be. What’s this about?”
He sighed. He could never hide anything from Luna. “It’s about the mystery girl that Draco’s seeing. He won’t tell Theo or I, and he always tells Theo and I. Which makes me wonder why he’s not telling us. Like… who would he be so embarrassed about that he wouldn’t tell us?”
She didn’t say anything for a moment, her eyes locked on a spot far across the lake.
“Perhaps it’s not embarrassment,” she reasoned. “Maybe he wants it to belong only to him. Maybe it’s important.”
“But that’s the thing,” Blaise exclaimed. “That’s not Draco. He doesn’t do that – feelings and love and the like. He never has been a ‘boyfriend’ bloke. It’s not his style.”
“People surprise you,” Luna replied. “You surprised me.”
He sighed, wrapping her into his arms again. “I don’t deserve you.”
“I’ve never understood why people say that,” Luna murmured into his chest. “Who has the right to say what we deserve?”
He kissed her head again, gratefully, lovingly.
A moment of silence.
“Are you sure none of your friends are shagging Draco?”
Luna sighed. “It’s definitely not Lisa. She’s dating Hannah. They’ve been together since the summer.”
Blaise let out a cheer, a grin spreading across his face. Luna raised an eyebrow, questioningly.
“They’re both on Theo’s list.”
“It’s not Davis,” Theo muttered at Blaise in Transfiguration a few days later. “Look, she’s all over MacMillan.”
“Means nothing,” Blaise retorted. “She could be trying to make him jealous.”
But if that was Tracey’s intention, with her arms wrapped around the Hufflepuff and her chin resting on his shoulder, it was certainly failing. Draco could not have been paying her less mind.
The Slytherin’s eyes were glaring at the opposite end of the room, where Potter and Granger were muttering to each other.
“Hey,” Theo whispered-shouted at Draco, at the desk in front of him and Blaise. “What’s got you pissed at Potter today? What’d he do, shit in your cereal?”
Draco turned around and shot him a scathing look. “Can’t I just hate Potter in peace? Not everything I do is part of your lot’s conspiracy theories.”
“Speaking of,” Blaise interjected, leaning forward. “Any thoughts on how fit Tracey’s looking? When did she get so hot anyway?”
It was bait. It was obvious, clear bait, a piece of shrimp hanging at the end of a metal line.
Draco raised an eyebrow, shooting a glance at Tracey, who could not have cared less what the other Slytherins were doing.
He shrugged, turning back to the work in front of her. “Guess she’s pretty fit.”
Theo mock gasped. “Is that admittance?”
“Oh, for the love of Merlin,” Draco muttered, turning back to them. “It’s not Tracey. Get over yourselves.”
Theo sniggered while Blaise couldn’t help but cry out, much too loudly for the current context.
The class grew silent at the Slytherin’s shout. From the front of the classroom, McGonagall looked up, raising one sharp eyebrow over her spectacles.
“Mr. Zabini,” she stated. “Is there any particular reason you find yourself shouting vulgarities in my classroom?”
Theo ducked beneath the desk to hide his chortles while Blaise stammered a response.
“Sorry… professor… stubbed my toe.”
She glared at him; disbelief evident on her face.
“Injure yourself at a lower volume next time.”
Draco and Theo laughed at Blaise the whole way back to their next class.
They sat on the couches in the common room, chugging back Butterbeers on a Friday night.
“Here’s the thing, though, Draco,” Blaise said, leaning forward, his eyes hazy under the influence of the drinks. “We don’t get… why you just won’t tell us.”
Draco rolled his eyes, leaning back on the green velvet. “Have you fuckwads ever considered I haven’t told you because I don’t want you to know?”
“Sounds fake,” Theo interjected, a grin across his face. “You always tell us. That’s what friends are for.”
“Theo, fuck. Please… just drop it.”
The brown-haired man frowned, his eyebrows scrunching together. “No, Draco, I won’t bloody well drop it. We’ve all been best mates for seven years, hell, we made out that one time! Don’t you think we deserve to know…”
“Oh, can it,” Draco snarled. “You lot don’t deserve to know, I don’t give a rat’s ass about your curiosity, I promised her that I wouldn’t…”
The blonde’s mouth snapped shut as Theo leapt to his feet, his shit eating grin making a triumphant return.
“You promised her?” Theo gasped, wobbling slightly from side to side. “This isn’t about you being embarrassed or some trite, it’s her that’s embarrassed about you?”
Draco was flushed, his eyes slightly crazed, as he gaped like a fish and shook his head.
“No… no that’s not what I meant…”
“Yes, it is!” Theo shouted, as others in the common room turned to watch them. “She wants this to be a secret, doesn’t she? This has nothing to do with you at all!”
“Theo,” Draco growled, as his blush finally disappeared, replaced by frustration. “Don’t push it. It’s… it’s fragile.”
“This changes everything!” Theo exclaimed, uncaring of the audience his little outburst was now drawing. “You want to tell us, to share this girl with us. But you respect her too much to break her trust! Who the fuck are you? What did you do with Draco Malfoy?”
“Fuck off!” Draco snapped. “I’m not… she’s important, she’s bloody fucking important. Don’t muck this up.”
Theo swayed, looking around the common room, before his eyes landed on someone.
“Astoria! Come here!”
Draco threw his head in his hands, before peeking through his fingers at Blaise.
“Murder me, Blaise. Kill me right now.”
The confused fifth year girl left her friends at the opposite end of the room to saunter over to them, giving Draco and his muttering a strange look.
“Now, Astoria,” Theo said, stumbling forward. “This is a very important question.”
She cocked an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“Are you currently shagging Draco Malfoy?”
“Merlin, Theo!” Draco shouted.
Astoria giggled, her hand covering her mouth. She glanced between the three drunk boys.
“Not to my knowledge.”
Draco stood up. “Astoria, I am so sorry, Theo here is a raging piece of shit with no conception of boundaries.”
The blonde girl shrugged, twirling a strand of hair between her fingers. “Are all seventh-years like this?”
Blaise chortled. “Only the worst ones.”
Astoria chuckled, seemingly unfazed by the situation. Turning on her heel, she returned to her friends, all giggling in the corner and whispering to her in hushed voices, their eyes still on the men at the couches.
“For the love of all that is holy,” Draco hissed, turning back to where Theo had fallen onto the couch. “Was that absolutely necessary?”
Theo shrugged. “She’s on my list.”
“She’s on your… what?”
“My list,” Theo continued, as Blaise started shaking his head vigorously, trying to head off his friend. “For the pool.”
Draco had gone exceedingly still. “What pool?” His eyes moved away from Theo. “Blaise? Do you know about this?”
Blaise chuckled nervously. “Well, you see, Draco. Theodore and I here thought it would be… enlightening…”
“Entertaining,” Theo interjected as Draco’s nostrils flared.
“To each have a list with half of the upper-year girls at Hogwarts on it,” Blaise continued, his voice rather small. “And whichever of us had the girl you’re shagging on our list… won.”
“Won. What.” Draco seethed, his skin pale and tendons seizing.
“Twenty galleons?” Blaise finished, asking the statement as a question.
Draco stared at his two friends for several long, hard, moments, before turning and stalking away.
“You sons of bitches.”
As Draco disappeared up the staircase to the dormitory, Theo sat up straight.
“Hey!” he shouted drunkenly. “You can’t say that about my mother! She’s dead.”
Blaise groaned, falling back into the coach.
“And honestly, Theo. We’re about to be.”
The next morning at breakfast, Theo nursed a hangover with a cup of coffee while Blaise nervously watched the door for any sign of the Slytherin Prince.
“I cannot believe you told him about the pool,” Blaise muttered.
“Hey!” Theo groaned, head nearly inside his mug. “I was drunk. You can’t hold me responsible for stupid shit I do drunk.”
“I absolutely can and I absolutely will if you get us drawn and quartered today… oh fuck, here he comes.”
Theo looked up, his bleary eyes making out the shape of Draco Malfoy striding angrily towards them at the Slytherin table.
There was dead silence as he slid onto the bench across from them.
Clasping his hands, he flicked his eyes up to observe his two oldest friends, his lips pursed.
“You two are absolute bastards.”
Blaise grimaced, as Theo took an unnecessarily large swig of coffee.
“But,” Draco continued, not allowing either of them to speak. “Your… let’s call it dedication to my dating life has revealed something.”
“That we’re actually wonderful friends who really care about you and your life?” Theo asked hopefully.
“Absolutely the fuck not,” Draco retorted. “It made me realize that you two are lunatics and will stop at nothing to find this out, and honestly, I figured I’d save you lot the trouble.”
There was a pause.
“Draco,” Theo gasped, his coffee pushed to the side. “Are you saying…”
He nodded. “I’m going to tell you.”
Blaise whooped and Theo flinched away from the noise. Draco cocked an eyebrow, a smirk appearing on his face.
“The girl I’ve been seeing is…”
But before the final answer could be revealed, because no one let them have fun anymore, a voice interrupted them.
“Boys? Could I speak to you for a moment?”
Blaise and Theo’s heads whipped towards the speaker. Almost in tandem, their jaws dropped.
“Listen, Granger,” Blaise started, after a moment, glancing nervously at Draco and Theo. “Now’s really not a good time.”
She continued staring at them, her expression wide and innocent.
“It’s not that we wouldn’t love to see what Gryffindor’s Princess had to share,” Theo interjected quickly, adding on to Blaise's comment. “We would. In perhaps five minutes. Seven to give us some wiggle room to exchange money.”
At Theo’s comment, the most peculiar look appeared on Granger’s face. Her normally bright smile twisted into something more mischievous, more delinquent.
One could almost describe it as a smirk.
“About that,” she continued, taking another step forward before sinking onto the bench next to Draco. “I believe you lot have made some sort of deal involving me.”
Blaise raised an eyebrow. “You? What does this have to do…”
His voice trailed off just as Theo knocked over his cup of coffee, the liquid caffeine spilling across the table. The two men sat, dumbfounded, as Draco Malfoy took Hermione Granger’s hand in his own, entwining their fingers before raising it to his lips, and kissing her skin softly, eyes only for her.
The realization struck them with the force of bludgers.
“Granger?!” Theo shrieked as Blaise gapped wordlessly. “You’re dating Granger?”
“For nearly three months now,” Draco said happily, trailing kisses down the back of her hand. She smiled back at him – her expression radiant.
“Merlin’s balls,” Blaise exclaimed. “Listen – Granger, it’s not that I don’t love it – holy shit wow I love this, why didn't you do this before… it’s more just, how? What? She wasn’t even in the running…”
The words left Blaise’s mouth, and like clockwork, he and Theo turned to each other and shouted in unison.
At the speed of light, both men ripped into their robes, frantically searching for their piece of parchment. Once they had found it, they slammed them on the table, both pairs of eyes searching desperately for the one name they had never really considered…
“Fuck me,” Theo muttered, as Blaise let out a cheer, pointing at his own piece of paper where it was written, clear as day:
“Pay up, Nott,” Blaise laughed, slamming his fist on the table as Theo grumbled, reaching into his robes until he pulled out a small change purse, dumping it in front of them.
“You son of a bitch,” he snarled. “That should be my twenty galleons…”
“Actually,” Hermione interrupted, smirking once again. “Given the ludicrousness of the situation, and the fact that I won Draco, after all, I believe it belongs to me.”
With that, she reached forward and collected the money into her own hand. Turning to give Draco a quick peck on the lips, she jumped up, before nearly skipping back to her own table.
Blaise and Theo stared after her – thunderstruck – while Draco could not contain his laughter.
“Well, mates,” he shrugged, still chuckling, pouring himself a coffee. “I can’t say I pity you.”
“Luck be a fucking lady indeed,” Theo grumbled. “Or lucky that you’re fucking your lady, I suppose.”
“Theo, I still believe I owe you a punch in the face. Don’t push your luck.”
He sighed dramatically, turning to where he had spilled his coffee.
“Seems I’ve currently got none.”