A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

 #24488  by Albie Rees
Location: Quidditch Stadium • Date: May 2003
Time of Day: Evening • Weather: Clear Skies

The Holyhead Harpies' seeker had caught the snitch a minute into the game, leaving a stadium full of supporters breathless. Eager to celebrate and probably a little hungry for more of their favorite sport the celebration went on into the night.

It seemed every tower of bleachers had been converted into a different pillar of celebration. From one loud music could be heard, a riot of green and yellow danced as if everyone had forgotten how to stand. In another pillar chants were being sung, leaving everyone who stood in the tower long enough with a case of tinnitus. Albie's tower was a little more tolerable. Those in attendance held a glass of liquor in their hand while they chatted enthusiastically about how much the game had made them won. It seemed all of those who had bet on a quick win by Wales' team had found themselves in the same quarters.

Proud of his own winnings Albie had downed a few drinks making him a little more loquacious than usual. He was chatting with a group of female investors, interested in their investments especially those in the quidditch world. That was how the conversation had started anyways, now it seemed that it had veered from business and sounded a little more like flirting. Not that the two were very different.

"Let me get you another," Albie offered when he noticed that one of his new friend's drink was almost done.
 #24529  by Zi Shang An
One moment they were beside her, clinking glasses and enthusiastically trading commentaries about the game. The next, she watched the tail ends of both men's robes vanish between the crowd as her call was smothered by the music and thousands of conversations around her.

Zi Shang smiled, a touch resigned at her sudden predicament.

Perhaps she should have foreseen it when she accepted Aidan's invitation. This was, after all, his natural habitat. Even Francis, who was not formerly a Quidditch sportsman, still held sufficient ties to the general arena of broom sports to recognise people and be recognised. She could scarcely expect them to stick by her side the entire evening.

It would have been nice, but she did not fault them.

And at any rate, stepping away from her ex for a moment or two was a reprieve. As much as they remained on amiable terms, being so close around Francis brought back memories that she did not wish to relive. She only hoped no journalist had taken a picture of them to publish on the sports tabloids. She may still owe Francis money that he refused to accept, but Zi Shang had long shelved her romantic relationship with the broom racer.

Half-empty glass in hand, she circumvented the crowds somewhat aimlessly before spotting an empty wicker seating area near the bar. Zi Shang exhaled a long breath as she sat down on one end of the cushioned bench, briefly stretching out her heeled feet.
 #24551  by Albie Rees
"Here you go," Albie smiled as he offered his companion a new glass of champagne. "Where were we?" He inquired though his eye had caught a silhouette that drew him out of their orbit.

Like a predator tempted by a prey, Albie could not veer his attention from her.

After an apology as faint as his self-restraint, Albie walked towards her.

"Rubbing shoulders with investors and other financiers, I see." Alcohol dulling his usual filters he smiled rather widely.
 #24554  by Zi Shang An
Zi Shang caught sight of the finance administrator as he drew near. Briefly, she glanced about her surroundings for Francis, as if it was somehow inappropriate that the two men should ever encounter one another.

Not that Albie knew about the reason she had taken the loan.

Or that it mattered if he did, only that she did not relish the prospect of explaining her arrest and confinement.

Zi Shang turned back to meet Albie's gaze with her own tranquil smile, "I do not believe we signed a exclusivity clause."
 #24608  by Albie Rees
"Gross oversight on my part," he shook his head as if disappointed with his incompetence.

The playful banter made him wonder how a true rivalry would play between them.

"Are you drinking to forget or to celebrate?" His tone implied that there was a right and a wrong answer to his query. Fans of the Harpies would be welcomed while others would likely be teased.
 #24699  by Zi Shang An
The financial administrator's response drew a slightly bemused smile from his client, though his shift in demeanour did not go unnoticed.

"Neither, I drink for sportsmanship," Zi Shang briefly raised her glass. She lifted her chin a little in the direction of his own drink.

"Can I hazard a guess that you are celebrating?"
 #24716  by Albie Rees
"You may," Albie smirked enticed by the appeal of another wager. "A precise answer as to what I am celebrating will grant you a reward," the gambler promised before he took a quick sip.

The night's winning in his pocket and the living promise of a soon to be claimed prize was enough to put Albie in a playful mood.
 #24717  by Zi Shang An
Perhaps it was the pulsating music, or the drink in her hand, or the sheer infection of his convivial mood. The slender witch, otherwise typically reserved in demeanour, leaned on one hand on the cushioned seat and swirled her drink in her other hand.

"And a mistaken answer?"

She shook her head briefly.

"You do not seem one to make a wager with nothing to gain."
 #24718  by Albie Rees
"Your gain can be my gain," he tantalized, confidence exuding from his pores.

This was the implied premise of their relationship. When she gained, he did as well. Little did she know, Albie was on his own playing field.

"Or if you prefer we do it your way and if you lose you will owe me a reward of your choosing."
 #24720  by Zi Shang An
For the first time since she had known him, the dark-haired witch exhaled an audible breath of laughter as she shook her head at him.

"I do not prefer. Only fools and honourable men choose the worser deal for themselves."
 #24721  by Albie Rees
He understood that her clever saying applied to him, that by choosing to offer a reward without expecting one if she lost, he was either making himself a fool or worst yet an honorable man, but he did not budge. He knew that his reward would serve them both.

"And here I was thinking I was in the presence of a lady." A lady who was surprising him. Keeping him on his toes.
 #24722  by Zi Shang An
"You still are," Zi Shang smiled a touch enigmatically.

She scooted a little aside on the couch to make space for her unexpected companion and drew a sip from her glass.

"I believe you won money on the Harpies." It was an easy guess. Francis and Aidan had spent the entire afternoon discussing their own wagers.

"The question is how much."
 #24723  by Albie Rees
Commandingly he waved for a waiter to come take his glass and give him another. Once a new glass was in his hand he sat next to her.

"I did," he confirmed, almost letting on how proud he was of her for trusting that he would benefit from a quidditch match. "How much indeed," he breathed mysteriously. Intending on taking in her expressing as she made her calculations he turned his upper body towards her. "More than them," he pointed at two men chatting enthusiastically at the bar. "And him," he pointed at an older man with a younger woman sitting on his lap.
 #24725  by Zi Shang An
Her gaze followed his directions. It was entirely possible that he was only being confident in picking out the other men, but she was not convinced that his confidence was so entirely unfounded. Albie was self-assured, but she did not think him to the extent of hubris.

Searching her mind for clues that she had overheard from her companions' discussion earlier, Zi Shang took another longer sip out of her glass. There was a reason both men had placed larger bets on the Harpies. It had been a fruitful season for the all-female team.

And Albie was, at the very least, opportunistic.

"You placed down no less than five hundred Galleons, and I would guess that it doubled," she suggested contemplatively. Francis and Aidan each had doubled what they placed down.

"So you are now owed a thousand, perhaps a few miscellaneous Sickles over it."
 #24834  by Albie Rees
He considered impressive as a superlative to describe her assessment of the situation, but that would be akin to admitting that he had underestimated her and Albie had done no such thing.

He was, however, willing to show his amusement. The brim of his glass reaching his grinning lips, Albie offered her a second of silence to realize she had guessed right.

"Shall we claim your prize now?" Without giving her time to answer he got up and offered her his arm.