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Story Notes:
Oct 6, 2006
Ludo empties his coin purse onto the table and puts the galleons into a stack. He counts the five coins and stares at them. He knows that it’s time to stop. Luck is no longer with him, not like it was when he was younger and the world seemed to be his. Now, he’s older and not wiser, paunchy and wrinkled, and the smile that used to get him into more knickers than he cared to count lacks its former charm.

He picks up one of the galleons and remembers the applause and shouts that used to greet his appearance. He’d fly onto the pitch and the roar from the crowd was nearly deafening. His image waved from the covers of magazines and he winked at his fans from posters that sold out during the season. He looks at the galleon in his hand and thinks of the autographs that he used to sign, so many that his hand would cramp and his fingers would be covered in ink.

Now, his hands shake slightly, and he’s ignored by those who used to want to grow up to be just like him.

A second galleon joins the first, and Ludo thinks about the first war. Days when he thought he was a big hero, meeting Rookwood and doing his bit for the cause. Proudly smiling as he passed along important information, smug when he’d go to practice and hear others debating whether they should quit playing to go fight. He can still remember the triumph he felt with every word he passed along, the thoughts of glory after the war when the papers would declare him a contributing factor to Voldemort’s demise.

When he picks up the third galleon, his face falls as the headlines come back to him. ‘Bagman a Death Eater?’ and ‘Ludo Lying?’ written across the top of the Daily Prophet for weeks on end. Jeers and hisses following him when he’d go to Diagon Alley. Friends no longer returning his owls or wishing to be seen with him. The trial and feeling utterly stupid for being taken in by Rookwood, sweat dripping down the back of his neck as he flashed his most charming smiles and admitted to being pathetically trusting. Better to be stupid than imprisoned, after all.

It started after that, he recalls as he picks up the fourth galleon. He worked his way up to the head of the department, but at what cost? The first time, he said it was ‘just this once’, mostly because he never had before. But he’d won and there had been congratulations and applause again, plus a handful of galleons that bought drinks for several days. The second time was to prove that he was still a winner as was the third and fourth. By the fifth time, he had lost more than he won.

He’s been trying to break even ever since.

“Last call.”

The words draw his attention to the bar and the wizard standing there waiting. His coin purse is empty, and he’s spent an advance of his salary for the next two weeks, but Ludo knows he’s going to be lucky this time. The odds are in his favor, after all. It won’t be enough to pay his debts, but it will be enough to make a start. He picks up the last galleon and considers putting them back in his purse, turning and leaving before he makes another bad decision. He stands up and walks to the bar, carefully putting down his five galleons and sliding them across. Just one more time, he tells himself. If he can just win once more, then he’ll stop.