(15th November, 2017: slight expansion to Author Notes)

Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter. At the original date of this post, in October, 2017, Magic: The Gathering is, as far as I know, a genuine collectible card game which is owned & published by Wizards of the Coast who are currently a subsidiary of Hasbro.

Note: The following is a somewhat fluffy piece which takes place in an alternate universe, where some fifth year Slytherins are playing cards (or rather Magic: The Gathering) during the Christmas holidays in the 1995-1996 school year (which is the 'Order of the Phoenix' school year in canon). Apparently someone subversive, with at least a foot in the muggle world, introduced the game to Hogwarts...

This piece is rated 'T'.

This piece is a one-shot.

NB: Whilst a knowledge of Magic: The Gathering might be helpful to understanding of the piece, I suspect that references are made to cards which even modern day players might have to look up (unless, at the time of reading, they have recently been reprinted). Hopefully without knowledge of the game there is still enough going on in terms of interaction between the Slytherins involved to make some sort of sense...

December 26th, 1995

Down in the Hogwarts dungeons, magic was taking place.

Or to be more accurate, it was late afternoon on Boxing Day and a multiplayer game of Magic: the Gathering was being played in a corner of the Slytherin common room.

It had originally been a five player game, but Vincent Crabbe's 'faerie' deck had been an early casualty after Vincent had played all creatures from his hand, and had then seen Draco take down all creatures in play with one card. Vincent had been unable to draw a creature fast enough to stop the others – annoyed by early game pinprick attacks from Vincent's Scryb Sprites and Willow Faeries – from ganging up on him and taking him down, and Vincent had retired muttering something about how he was going to rebuild as a green/blue with Power Sinks so that he had a chance to stop something like that next time…

It was Gregory Goyle's turn. He inspected the situation, then narrowed his eyes.

"You hit me with your djinn last turn, Blaise." he said. He adjusted the position of cards on the table. "And you're all tapped out. Mind Twist you for four."

Blaise sighed and discarded his hand.

"That card should be not just restricted, but banned." Blaise good-naturedly complained. "Anything else?"

Gregory fingered for a moment the cards arranged face up in front of him that represented his resources 'in play', and glanced around the table, then shook his head.

"Nope. Done. Your turn, Draco."

"Untap. Upkeep. Draw." Draco announced the steps he was going through. "Play Plains." He looked around the table and at the piles of coins that represented each player's life totals. "Attack: You, Alexandra, with my Serra."

Alexandra Snape narrowed her green eyes and then adjusted a card titled 'Glasses of Urza' that was amongst the cards laid out in front of her at her side of the table. "Show me your hand, Draco."

"Paranoid are we, Alex?" Draco said, and pushed the cards from his hand face down across the table to her.

She picked them up and inspected them for a moment, then grimaced and slid them back, face down across the table to Draco.

"Getting cautious in my old age. And rightly so. Fine. I take the damage. How much?"

"Just the four." Draco said.

Alexandra adjusted the coin pile in front of her accordingly and Draco looked smug.

"Got something to use if she tries to block it?" Blaise glanced at Draco.

"I couldn't possibly comment." Draco replied. "Done. Your turn Blaise."

"At the end of your turn Draco, I make a kelp token." Blaise said, manipulating the cards he had in play, and adding a small glass bead to the growing array of beads sitting in front of him that represented his kelp tokens. "Right. My go." Blaise ran through his steps silently, until he came to do something with the card which he had just drawn. "Greg: Phantasmal Terrain on your Bottomless Vault." Blaise flipped the card across the table to Greg. "Island of course. And say hello to my leviathan." Blaise adjusted the card named 'Segovian Leviathan' on the table in front of him.

"Hi." said Greg mournfully. "Three points isn't it?"

"Unless Draco or Alex wants to do something?" Blaise glanced at the other two.

Draco shook his head.

Alexandra inspected the cards in front of her, then the life total piles and made an adjustment to her cards.

"Zelyon Sword to boost your leviathan. Have an extra two, Greg."

"Ow." said Gregory, and adjusted his life-total accordingly.

"Thanks. And done." said Blaise.

Alexandra untapped, did nothing in her upkeep, and drew a card, her face inscrutable; then she tapped the Glasses of Urza. "Show me your hand, Greg."

Gregory had to oblige, and Alexandra slid his cards back to him.

"Right: Enduring Renewal." she announced, manipulating other cards in front of her and putting a card from her hand into play. "Ornithopter." she played another one. "Which in combination with my Ashnod's Altar and Rocket Launcher means game over."

"What?" Blaise demanded.

"Unlimited mana, Blaise." Alexandra replied. "Sacrifice Ornithopter for two points of colourless. Enduring Renewal puts Ornithipter back in hand. Play Ornithopter for zero. Sacrifice Ornithopter. Repeat as many times as I like, then go on a Rocket Launcher spree. I've been trying to get the combo out with this deck since the start of the month, but I've either never had everything in hand or someone's taken out my Rocket Launcher before I got to use it. Or Vincent has had a Rust." she glared at where Vincent was currently making adjustments to his faerie deck.

"Hah! Good game. I've said I had a feeling you were sitting on something big every time we've played the last few weeks and you've had that deck." Draco said, beginning to scoop his cards up. "Hey! Vincent! Alex has finished us all off in one go and we've probably got time for another game, before dinner, if you're interested?"

Author Notes:

This piece is set in, as noted, an alternate universe; possibly Alexandra's presence may have helped to loosen up some of the Slytherins in her year.

The players in this piece are using decks which would have been buildable from cards actually available at that time. For those who actually care about such details, Blaise's 'djinn' would have been a 'Mahamoti Djinn'. These Slytherins have probably been playing for about a year, although they may have picked up cards (especially common ones) by way of shops or trades from expansions which pre-date the onset of their interest in the game, such as Vincent's 'Rust' cards.

Draco is playing with a 'White' deck principally because he likes the idea of playing a colour with a card called 'Wrath of God' in it which allows him to blow up all creatures in play. (He's also managed to work out that creatures which can both attack an opponent during your turn, and still (so long as they survive) be ready to block creatures during other players' turns are incredibly useful in a multiplayer game. Especially if, as in the case of the Serra Angel, they fly as well.)

Vincent is playing with a faerie deck because it amused me to depict one of canon Draco's minions/'dumb muscle' sidekicks playing a deck full of 'cute' little fairies. (Again for those who actually care about these things, he's probably running a deck built around Scryb Sprites, Willow Faeries, Faerie Nobles, Argothian Pixies and perhaps a couple of Willow Priestesses.)

Alexandra is using a deck intended specifically to do exactly what it (finally) does in this piece; when the 'combination' actually comes off, it probably wins 'big' but otherwise, is probably average in performance at best. It's a 'clever but not always entirely practical idea' deck. (Definitely 'White': possibly 'Blue-White', with the blue being to 'Reconstruction' or 'Recall' specific cards back from her graveyard.)

Gregory is playing a plain 'Black' deck with a strong element of 'make other players discard cards', and Blaise is playing a plain 'Blue' deck with a mix of stuff in.

This piece is a one-shot.

Update: (15th November, 2017)

I'm not sure why Draco isn't at home for Christmas this year, but evidently he's at Hogwarts for some reason.

To respond to an early reviewer, I haven't settled on who Alexandra's parents are; if the point of departure is post-1960, then I think they would probably be Severus Snape and a female of childbearing age in the appropriate time-frame. If the point of departure is pre-1960, I'm tempted by the idea of her being an illegitimate daughter of Father Constantine Snape (no Severus Snape in this version of the universe, although presumably Alexandra is from before Constantine completed his training to be a Catholic priest) and Eleanor Pitt (English distant relation to Clive Cussler's 'Dirk Pitt'.) Since the story is a somewhat fluffy one-shot, I think I won't state a preference for either option here and leave readers to imagine that it's whichever version pleases them more and/or they find more plausible...