I’ve visited Las Vegas several times over the last nine years, so when The Leaky Cauldron announced a Vegas-themed fan fiction contest, I decided to finally write down a plot bunny that had been bothering me for quite some time. You can imagine my surprise when it actually placed third in their “Funniest” category!
Thanks to some suggestions from my beta, Ara Kane, as well as the fact that I’m no longer constrained by word limits, I’ve made a few changes to my original entry.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Ron.”
Before Ron could reply, both he and Harry were whisked away by the Portkey. When they stumbled to a landing at their destination, Harry made the mistake of taking a deep breath. His first thought was that they must have landed in a huge, dusty oven as the hot, dry air sent him into a coughing fit.
“Where the hell are we?” croaked out Ron between his own coughs.
Harry opened his eyes cautiously to see two figures wearing hard hats coming out of a particularly thick cloud of dirt. In an instant, he had his wand pointed at the newcomers; after spending most of the past year hunting Horcruxes, both he and Ron had learned to be “constantly vigilant.”
“Didn’t Mum ever tell you it’s not polite to point?”
Harry lowered his guard as he recognized Fred’s voice. “I thought you said we were going to a Quidditch match, not a Muggle construction site.”
“Yeah, I should’ve known better than to trust you two with the traveling arrangements,” added Ron.
“Don’t worry, brother mine,” George said pleasantly. “We are indeed going to a match, but not until tomorrow. If you’re patient, you’ll see why we brought you out a day early.”
Harry and Ron exchanged skeptical glances but followed the twins past an unoccupied forklift and through a gate marked “Employees only.” Five sweltering minutes later, they ducked under some yellow “Caution” tape to arrive at a busy street. When Harry looked to his left, he blinked in disbelief; the Great Sphinx and the Statue of Liberty both stood along the road less than a mile in front of him.
“Welcome to Las Vegas!” chorused Fred and George together.
Going from the heat and sunshine of the outdoors to the dim, air-conditioned lobby of the Luxor was a shock to Harry’s system. He stumbled as Fred grabbed his arm and pulled him past a statue of an Egyptian pharaoh into a casino filled with clanging bells and flashing lights.
The twins broke into grins when they caught Harry and Ron reading a sign prohibiting “all persons under the age of 21” from loitering in the area. “Nothing to worry about, boys,” said George.
“We’ve got everything taken care of,” added Fred as he handed around some passports.
Harry opened his to find a motionless and extremely unflattering photo of himself. He was about to close it when he noticed the date printed for his birth. “Wait a minute. I wasn’t born in 1975.”
“What?” said Ron as he peered over Harry’s shoulder. “You made him older than me? Mine says 1976.”
“Well, you aren’t The-Chosen-One-Who-Defeated-He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-And-Saved-The-World, are you?” retorted Fred, causing Ron to scowl.
Harry’s first instinct on hearing his Prophet-bestowed title was to run away from the crowds of autograph seekers who had hounded him for the last two months. It took him a moment to realize that, in this foreign and Muggle place, there weren’t any. A grin spread across his face, and he turned his efforts towards pretending to be 23 instead of 18. Not caring that he knew nothing about gambling, he took a few steps towards a slot machine and stopped. “Er, do we have any American money?”
Fred and George jumped to his rescue with a stack of drab green paper money and an apparently rare device for remote withdrawals from Gringotts. “Don’t lose it, or Bill will hex us to kingdom come. And that’s after the goblins get through with us,” continued the twins, shuddering in unison.
They all quickly set off to find ways to empty their pockets as fast as possible.
As the desert sun began to set, they decided to explore the rest of the Las Vegas Strip.
Harry continued to revel in his anonymity even as he was nearly overwhelmed by the crowds, the traffic, and the sights. The sensory overload was such that at first he didn’t notice that someone along the street had shoved some small pieces of cardboard into his hand. As he goggled at the picture of a naked woman covered only with some strategically placed stars, he felt his face flame in embarrassment.
“Oi, look at young Harrykins,” said Fred as he nudged George with his elbow.
“Poor boy. He’s too shocked to speak,” added George as shoved Fred back.
“Then again, if he weren’t, our dear little sister-”
“would probably want to hex him-”
“in very painful ways.”
Ron looked up from the cards he studying. “I really hate it when you two do that. It’s creepy.”
“It may be creepy, -” replied George.
“but at least we don’t have girlfriends back home, -” continued Fred.
“that would get upset if we were caught reading those.” George finished with a wave at the cards. Ron’s ears turned a tell-tale red as he quickly threw them into the nearest rubbish bin. Hermione would most certainly not approve.
At around one o’clock in the morning, they found themselves in a smoky, low-ceilinged casino. Harry wasn’t sure if it was luck or skill that had led to Ron’s remarkable winning streak at the blackjack table. Always competitive, the twins decided to prove that they could do even better.
As Harry watched them head over to a craps table, he thought he saw the tip of Fred’s wand slide out of his sleeve. Due to the fact that he had drunk several beers and was trying to function on virtually no sleep, Harry’s brain was slow to recognize that Fred was about to act on a Very Bad Idea.
Before Harry could get up from his seat, a man wearing an expensive suit with a casino security name tag laid his hand on Fred’s shoulder and said, “I think you’d better come with me.” As Fred turned around to protest, the man continued, “In fact, I think all four of you should come with me.”
Harry knew that his own face must have been mirroring the others’ comical expressions of disbelief as he briefly considered escape. A few minutes later, they were led into a small, windowless room filled with video screens playing a continuous loop of their group entering the casino.
“Sit down, boys. I’m Jim Franzen, and you should thank me for stopping you before you could get yourselves sent to Area 51.”
Dim memories of a television show seen while living with the Dursleys surfaced in Harry’s mind. “Area 51? Isn’t that where they say the aliens are?”
Franzen snorted in amusement. “I see that the misinformation from the Department of Magic worked a little too well. Area 51 is the site of our wizarding prison.” He took a wand out of the inner pocket of his jacket. “It’s illegal to influence the outcome of games of chance with magic. Not that it would do you any good to try. I put the Anti-Cheating Charms on the dice myself.”
Harry looked at the Weasleys in confusion. It was clear that they, too, were shocked to find a wizard working security in a Muggle casino. “But how did you know that we…” With the fuzzy state of his mind, Harry was unable to find words for the rest of his question.
Franzen smiled. “Oh, I recognized you, Mr. Potter. Your picture has been all over the papers.”
Harry rolled his eyes as Fred and George both slapped him on the back.
Unfortunately, just as soon as Harry began to think they would escape with only a talking-to, Franzen asked to see their passports. He tapped each one with his wand to cancel the Age-Increasing Charms. “I’m afraid I have to detain all four of you until someone over the age of 21 can collect you.”
After a quick debate, the Weasleys decided that their most sympathetic contact would be their father. Harry fell asleep in his chair while waiting for an answer, so he was unsure how much time had passed when the door of the room opened to admit a furious Molly Weasley clad in the flowered apron she wore when cooking.
“BOYS, HOW COULD YOU? DRAGGING ME HALFWAY ACROSS THE GLOBE TO BAIL YOU OUT?” Everyone in the room, including Franzen, cowered in the face of Molly’s wrath. “DISTURBING YOUR FATHER AT WORK… COMPLETELY IRRESPONSIBLE…” To Harry’s great relief, within five minutes she had finished venting and signed the necessary papers.
Now that she had calmed down, Mrs. Weasley was able to look around with interest as they made their way through the casino to the front door. “Your father would be fascinated by all of this.”
Fred got a mischievous gleam in his eye. Handing his mother a quarter, he said, “Why don’t you give this machine a try so you can tell him about it?”
Uncertain, she put the coin into the slot machine and pushed the indicated button. The flashing lights proclaimed her the winner of four more quarters. With more confidence, she played again. And won again. And again.
As she sat down to concentrate on her game, George blinked in surprise. “Y’know? I think we’ve created a monster!”