Draco Malfoy unknowingly sat across the Ravenclaw table from three of his least favorite people. It was late, and the hall was dark around them.

“So,” says a man’s voice. “You’ve always said that you were a ‘ladies man.’ Whatever that is. Do you mean to say that you could get any girl to go out with you?”

Draco considered the question. “Yes, I could get any girl to fall for me.”

“How long?” The girl’s voice rang across the Great Hall, and though Draco found it vaguely recognizable, he considered the question again carefully. He folded his hands carefully on the table. 

“A matter of days.” A disbelieving sniff escaped the side of Draco’s opposition.

“And could you keep from falling in love with her?” Draco leaned back and smirked, though no one could see it.

“I am a master at the art of love. I can have girls falling at my feet at the wave of my wand, and I won’t even notice them. The most beautiful girl in the world could proclaim her love for me, and I wouldn’t spare her a second glance. I love who I want to, for the reasons I want to. I can make women love, and never even have a thought of it cross my mind. Do you doubt my abilities?” There was a moment of silence.

“Okay then. We’ll name a girl, and you make her fall in love with you. By the Christmas holidays.” Said the girl.

“What’s in it for me?”

“Money.” This time the third person spoke, a second man. A snap of fingers startled Draco, and a single candle ignited at the opposite end of the table. Galleons. Piles of golden galleons, something that Draco had a fond attachment to. “Let’s talk terms.” The candle flickered and went out. All was pitch black again. “We’ll name a girl at the end of this meeting, and you will make her fall in love with you by the time the train leaves for Christmas, without falling in love with her yourself. If both conditions prove true, you will take this thousand galleons, and then some, home with you. If either condition proves false, you will be open to mockery and ridicule by the entire school.” The bench creaked, Draco could tell that the man was leaning back, he had finished.

“I never shake on a business proposition unless I know the other half.” Draco tried again to see the faces of those across from him.

“We’ll just take our galleons and go, then.” The first man started to stand, and the others followed. 

“Wait.” Draco held out his hand. “Thousand galleons, this girl in love with me by Christmas. It’s a deal.” 

“Good.” Said the girl. Draco saw three hands shoot out from the darkness, and he slowly held out his hand to shake all three. Gold sparks flew from all four hands indicating that the bet was on. Draco was bound to the terms of the deal, there was no turning back or amendment of rules.

“We will periodically communicate to you in the way that we did to arrange this meeting. Do not send any spies to see who we are, or I guarantee that you will definitely lose. If you wish to communicate to us, asking questions about this girl or making comments on your progress, leave a note taped to the bottom of the Slytherin table. We will leave any messages on the far side of the table, six places from the end, we will check for your communications in the same place. Do not breathe a word of this to anyone. If anyone asks you why you have taken sudden interest in this girl, you must lie, understood?” Draco bit his lip and thought once more.

“Understood.” The opposite bench slid backwards and Draco heard three people stand.

“Perfect.” Said the girl. “Do not get caught on the way to bed. We never met tonight.” Draco stood and followed the three people to the doorway. “Oh, and I almost forgot. The girl.” Draco could just see the outlines of the people.

“Yes. Whom will I be wooing this time around?” Draco asked smugly, eager to start planning.

“Hermione Granger. I do believe you know her?” Draco nearly fell over in shock.

“The mudblood? I can’t, if my father knew…” Gold sparks flew from one of the three wands.

“A deal’s a deal, Draco.”

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