The last week of the term became increasingly boisterous. Rumors were flying about how Dumbledore had bought eight hundred barrels of mulled mead from Miss Rosmerta. That was an unknown fact, but for certain he had booked the new and upcoming popular musical group the Weird Sisters to come.
Some of the teachers like Professor Flitwick just gave trying to teach them. He had them play games in class and just chatter all about. But the advanced upper-year professors did not and including Professor McGonagall and Professor Lye, who worked them to the very last second of each class period.
The Hogwarts staff continued to strive to impress their guests. The decorations were the most elaborate ever seen. Everlasting icicles had been attached to the banisters of the marble staircase. The usual twelve Christmas trees in the Great Hall were decked with everything from luminous holly berries to real, hooting, golden owls, and the suits of armor had all been bewitched to sing carols whenever anyone passed them.
Several times, Argus Filch, the caretaker had been forced to extract Peeves from inside the armor. Peeves especially liked to add his own inventive lyrics between the song gaps. More than one girl had taken to pouring water down into the armor in an attempt to drown him. Needless to say, their efforts were in vain.
The term ended with a heavy load of homework. Not that Rowan had an issue as she got that right out of the way to enjoy her winter break. The older Slytherins that weren't going home this year kicked it into high gear. Once upon a time, Rowan had thought Gryffindor's were the unruly ones, she was dead wrong. It was the quiet ones who were the scariest when they let at last let their hair down.
The common room area had been turned into a gambling den, where not even Professor Slughorn dared to interfere. Rowan was fairly certain that one point she overhead a group of seventh years gambling their unborn first borne. Somehow, she had the distinct feeling that the wager was very much real and would likely be called in much later in the future.
Those not willing to participate in gambling tended to hide out in the dorms or elsewhere only returning to sleep. Personally, Rowan didn't mind as she'd often be found reading in the common room periodically watching the gambling games. Severus at present was out with Lily, while the girls were off with Lily and her friends. They were bound to be out on the grounds in some kind of snowball fight.
Rowan sniffed at the mere idea of snowball fight. If she wanted to be wet and cold, she would have not dropped Herbology. Despite her love of plants, her comfort always came first. And tromping out in all kinds of weather to get into the greenhouses defeated that purpose.
Suddenly, Terry stomps over to Rowan and says, "Rowan come play strip poker with me! The sixth and seventh years said that I can't play unless I drag someone else in."
Terry paused and eyes, Rowan with a bit of concern. "Er, you don't have any problems with nudity do you, Rowan?"
"Why not at all," Rowan flashed Terry a rather bright smile that suddenly left him feeling as though he'd just awoken a hungry dragon.
Closing her book, Rowan followed Terry back to the poker table, where she instantly spots the sour face of Parsley Parkinson and Darcy Travers. She might have stared a second too long at him because he glanced up at her. She quickly moved on and curled her lips in distaste at seeing the seventh year, Vern Crabbe. The two of them sneered at each other in equal dislike as Rowan took the remaining opening seat.
The other three integrants at the table was the agitated Slytherin female Prefect of the year before, Delilah Pizarro. Her nose is still slightly crooked, but her face had regained its normal fullness after becoming rather gaunt last year from her stint as a Prefect. It would seem that teasing Igor Kakaroff had more than paid off and returned some of her lost youth back to her.
The other two seventh year boys were both recognized as the Slytherin Quidditch team beaters. They were both fairly muscled and both attempting to grow a beard but failing rather miserably. One of them had a week mustache, while others only had three hairs on his chin.
"We all know the rules to Five Draws, right?" Delilah Pizzaro asked as she held the enchanted self-shuffling poker deck. "The cards are enchanted against magic, so cheating is not possible." Rowan doesn't hide her smile at the instruction and Terry gets the distinct feeling that won't make the least bit of a difference to Rowan.
"Before we start what is the value of our clothes?" Rowan asked receiving blank looks. "Well, I mean underwear should count for more points, right?"
"One free round before the player needs to strip again," Pizzaro instantly replied. "Anything else?" Not seeing any other questions, Pizzaro deals out five cards down to each of them.
Rowan, unlike the rest barley, lifts the cards off the table to peek at them and leaves them on the surface of the table. The rest of them hold their cards close to their chest. Hiding a smirk, she waits for Pizzaro to speak.
"All right, what's the first piece of clothing to be lost?" Pizzaro asked.
Various bets are heard from the seated occupants. "Scarf." "A shoe." "My Coat." "Sweater." "My Pants." "A shoe."
"A glove," Rowan said, earning glares for being such a cheapskate. But it wasn't her fault they weren't prepared.
"All right remember you may discard up to five cards and draw up to five times from the deck," Pizzaro instructed them. "All right, the game begins with the player to the left of the dealer." Pizzaro glances pointedly at the seventh-year boy with three hairs on his chin.
The burly young man instantly discards a face-up card onto the table it was a black number two clover card. Then he draws a card and makes a face. He was already terrible at poker as the first rule of the game is to keep a blank face.
The following player went and so forth until it was Rowan's turn. She immediately drops the weakest card in her deck and draws another. Her face remains impassive showing no emotion as she merely slides the card face down next to her other five cards. The game continues until at last everyone who wants to draw five cards has done so.
"Let's see your hands," Pizzaro instructed as everyone showed their hands. Terry had the highest hand with Rowan being somewhere in the middle. The first loser to lose a shoe was the burly player with a weak mustache.
As the game steadily continued the players noticed one thing, Rowan never lost. She at times had the highest hand of cards, but she never had the weakest hand. It was like she knew which cards to discard in order to be safe. But that was impossible since the deck was enchanted against cheating.
Then again, they didn't know anything about card counting. Ah, yes, an undervalued muggle skill. And clearly, at the beginning of the match, the dealer hadn't forbidden its use. As such, Rowan was not above using it.
Slowly more and more of them began to grow cold as they lost their articles of clothing but thank goodness for warming charms. Things finally began to look up when Rowan at long last lost her first piece of clothing her coat. Filled with joy, the pudgy Vern Crabbe sneered at her. "You'll be n.a.k.e.d, soon enough!"
"Hmm," Rowan said as she slowly eyed his wobbly middle. "Yes, I can see why people prefer to wear clothing rather than go n.a.k.e.d Crabbe. You are the epitome of that very thought."
Terry chokes with laughter as Crabbe goes bright red at the insult. It was rather interesting to see the flush stretch all the way down his neck into his chest. It was through he'd gotten a bad sunburn. He really should wear sunscreen.
However, their luck didn't turn as Rowan kept maintaining the status quo. By the end of the game, Rowan had only lost her scarf and her shoes. The poor pale nude forms were shivering from the cold as she took Terry's last bit of clothing his silk drawers.
Pizarro, who was covering her chest with one hand said, "And where did you learn to play like that Prince?"
Rowan flashed them an enigmatic smile as she got up and sneered at the boys who were covering their manhood's. "I've seen better," Rowan devilishly commented causing their cold shriveled body parts to wilt even further. With a cheerful whistle, she tossed her coat and scarf over her shoulders and walked off with her book and boots in hand.
Those n.a.k.e.d found themselves staring afterward as Pizzaro says, "Oi, Greengrass, how many times has Prince played strip poker before?"
"This is the first time," Terry replied fortunately still wearing his silk drawers as Rowan hadn't made him take them off before she left. "But then again, it's Rowan. Who knows what she gets up to half of the time? I know for a fact that just when you think you know her; she surprises you with something else."
"Huh," Pizzaro said, before pulling her robes onto her shivering self. "Well, put on your clothes people! We're the losers, not bloody exhibitionists!" They hurriedly at least put on their robes, before making their way to the dorms to change. Still, they'd gotten a lot of looks from the other gambling tables in the present (Slytherin) gambling den.