When Ginny woke up she was really excited despite the previous night being dreadful. Along with being extremely embarrassed after her altercation with Ron, Harry and Hermione out on the lawn, and catching Draco Malfoy staring at her during supper - she just knew he was on to her, Ginny had been worried that no one would choose her for an individual game mail letter this morning. Not that she couldn’t be the one to make the first move, but it certainly was nice to wake up and have a dark green bit of folded parchment sitting on her desk alongside the massive roll of letters from the whole group.
Her nervous smile turned into a genuine grin as she read. Her knight seemed really sweet; not at all what she expected, but then again, she was picturing Bleddri with white-blond hair and piercing grey eyes, sweet wasn’t exactly appropriate for her fantasy knight. Even though Bleddri was a figment of some male student’s imagination, from her experience with boys she had expected an idiot to be sure. In an interesting twist, her Bleddri seemed like an actual nice guy so she decided to change her game plan a bit.
Originally she’d planned on playing that she was livid that she’d been captured against her will. Now she decided flirty and understanding was the way to go. “Amazing! Dumbledore saying that the cast actually changes the plot is really true!” She giggled to herself as she dressed. “I’ll have to write back during Binns’ class, at least it’ll keep me awake!”
At breakfast all the talk was how to find out who was writing to whom. Ginny thought about all the people she knew.
Hermione wasn’t playing; She thought it was unethical to force the house elves to do more work than they normally did, though the pull of more credit for class was nearly tearing her in two.
Ron had begun the game in classic fashion. He’d used the twins’ new Suave quill and instead of coming off as debonair, he succeeded in spilling Never-clear Ink all over his letter. Luckily it had dried before he’d sent it or Ginny would have really pitied the pour soul who received it this morning.
Neville had admitted that he was the one to receive the individual letter first. He was greatly relieved too, because his nerves would have certainly gotten the better of him had he been forced to write first. Even dating Luna hadn’t made him any braver.
And Harry. Well, her letter didn’t sound anything like Harry. Her Bleddri was too smooth. She seriously doubted Harry had a ‘smooth’ bone in his body. No, Ginny knew it wasn’t him.
Ginny decided it was better to just play on and go with the fantasy she had created for herself. Hunting down the real Bleddri would only eliminate the blond knight she had invented in her head. She put her hand in her bag and grasped her letter. With a little smile she gave a vague glance around the Great Hall. All right, she admitted it, she knew she was mainly doing it so she wouldn’t look so obvious while staring at the Slytherin table. This time however, someone did notice her staring and was staring right back. Draco Malfoy’s face turned a pale shade of pink and he shifted his gaze to his plate almost before she could register what had occurred. She turned a glorious shade of ‘Weasley’ red and got up to walk to class wondering at what had just happened.
“Why was Malfoy looking over at me? Could he have been looking at someone else?” Professor Vector’s class was an inconvenient background to the thoughts that swam in her head. She thought about whom she’d been sitting by. “No, I was between Neville and Ron. Malfoy may be a git but he’s certainly not a poof! I hope he’s not a poof! Stop That!” Then, she thought of her letter. Could it have been Malfoy who really wrote it? It was hard to discern whether it was just wishful thinking or really possible. “While it’s true that he is the world’s biggest prat (excluding Ron of course) he did dress exceptionally well - never a hair out of place that one - and he did seem to have pristine manners. Even when insulting someone he did it with grace.”
My Dear Lady - pretty proper, and he wouldn’t have known she was a Weasley … but “No!” Ginny thought. “He’s just too evil to be so sweet, even if I want it to be him! Stop that!”
The rest of Arithmancy was a blur, but at least in History she was able to put quill and parchment together and write Bleddri a letter full of sweetness and her own measure of sassyness.Gallant Sir,
She folded the parchment and felt pretty good about herself. She decided that if her normal flirty self scared off Bleddri she was better off - she just wanted to really be herself with someone - even if she didn’t know who that someone was.
Class ended and Ginny walked with the other 6th years down the fourth floor corridor where they met up with the 7th years. She found Hermione and Ron and walked into the Great Hall discussing the ethics of the game with Hermione.
“It’s not that I don’t want to play,” the older girl was saying, “but I just couldn’t decide with the credit was worth fighting against my moral compass.”
“Moral Compass? Merlin, Hermione you make it sound like the game is evil or something. Mione, it’s mad fun! I’m really excited about it, and the extra marks are certainly pluses when the end of the year comes! My enjoyment of it must mean I should have been sorted into Slytherin or something -- imagine… enjoying something so ‘evil’!”
“Mad Fun? No one says that silly-Ginny!” Harry had arrived near the end of Ginny speech and sat down with a grin.
“I do! It’s my trademark. I think it’s brilliant! You know, all us ‘Silly girls’ have trademarks. Look at Luna and her … well, all of her.” Ginny countered, giggling.
“Great example Gin.” Harry rolled his eyes with a grin.
Harry was an interesting boy. She’d spent three years being completely ignored by him, then during her fourth year she’d actually become friends with him. She’d decided unrequited love just wasn’t ‘her’ and that having him for a friend was better than no being part of his life at all. So, she’d given up her obsession for the ‘boy who lived’ and moved on.
Last year she’d dated quite a few guys and had fun with most of them, but there had always been a certain blond at the back of her mind and she knew it wasn’t very fair to any of the boys she’d gone with. She wasn’t sure exactly how it happened, where it started, but at a prefect meeting last year she’d caught a glimpse of him that he just didn’t show to the general population of Hogwarts. It was weird. It was a relationship that would never go anywhere.
Subconsciously, as she thought about him, she glanced up at the Slytherin table. The platinum blond head she was searching for was nowhere to be seen. She looked back down again and grimaced at the way Harry had managed to touch his leg with hers. “Oh Ginny … what have you gotten yourself into?” She thought ruefully to herself. “Harry has never been more attentive towards you (what’s with that anyway?) and all you’re thinking about is someone who’d rather gorge out his eyes and cut out his own tongue than ever be rumoured to be romantically connected with a blood-traitor Weasley.”
Harry noticed her grimace and cut his discussion about Saturday’s Quiddich trials with Ron short to ask her what was wrong.
"Oh, uh … I guess I’m just worried you’ll find a better Chaser and I’ll be off the team this year, that’s all,“ she returned, covering up her frown with a slight smile.
“As if that’d be possible. You’ve got 6 older brothers that might hex me if I make you upset!”
Ginny just smiled and turned the subject, “So, did you get an individual game mail letter today, Harry?”
“No. Maybe no one will want to write to me and I can get out of it.”
“I hear that!” Ron added, “I’m hoping I don’t get a reply from mine tomorrow!”
“Why on earth would you even sign up if neither of you want to play?” Hermione questioned in her nagging way.
“Well, I sort of expected it to be different, less work and more fun,” Ron said sheepishly.
"Work? It’s the second day. How much work could there have been?”
Harry didn’t want to participate in their bickering, strangely they had gotten worse since declaring their affection for one another, so he turned to Ginny and asked, “Did you get one this morning Gin?”
“Yeah. It was really sweet. I’m really looking forward to mornings now!”
“Ha Ha Ha! Ginny Weasley looking forward to mornings? The game really is magic!”
“Oh you!” She pushed his shoulder with a grin.
“So, who are you playing Ginny, you can tell us … I’m your big brother. I won’t tell anyone.” Ron decided to join back into the game conversation.
Ginny knew Ron would bug and bug and bug until she told him so she put some food in her mouth and concentrated on chewing.
Hermione turned the table on Ron, “Well, if you’re so nosey about other people’s characters, why don’t you tell us all who you’re playing.”
“Alright. I’m … My character is ….” He couldn’t get his mouth to work. As if by magic, a little white piece of parchment appeared out of nowhere just a little above Ron’s head and floated gracefully down onto his plate.Mr. Weasley,
“Well that’s rich! ‘Figure it out on their own’? How’re we all supposed to do that without asking?” Ron grumbled.
“Oh, I guess you could just be observant. Notice parchment colours, quirks, sayings, ‘ink stains’, oh anything.” Hermione said, trying to hide a smile at her last words.
Harry and Ginny didn’t bother hiding their amusement. They laughed right out loud. Ron was so fun to tease.
Saturday came fast enough. Ginny received several more letters from Bleddri and she couldn’t remember when she’d been in such a good mood. She woke up Saturday morning to another of his letters and she just knew it would be a good day.
Quiddich trials went all morning. Harry tried the Chasers first so she was officially placed on the team for the third year in a row pretty early in the course of the morning, but as one of the strongest (and oldest) players on the team she had to set the example and stick around through all the other trials. At least she had the glory of being the one Chaser to get a quaffle past Ron as keeper. That thought made her smile.
Following practice Ginny took an extra long shower. Because she took so long she was late for lunch. She rushed up the stairs and as she headed into the Great Hall she tripped, and nearly fell on her face. Just as she fell over a pair of strong arms caught her and pulled her towards him. It was Malfoy.
“Oh … uh, sorry, Malfoy.” She flushed.
“Are you okay Ginny?” he asked softly, looking down into her soft brown eyes. He turned a light pink sort of colour. Her whole weight was resting on his arms. She could smell his aftershave and she couldn’t say anything, she just looked up at him in wonder. He almost seemed like he was inhaling her very breath.
And then, as if he’d realized what he was doing, the tenderness was gone and his recognizably arrogant smirk graced his lips. He just withdrew his arms and dropped her on her butt.
“Really, Weaslette! Turning into Longbottom now, aren’t you?” He sneered at her, smoothed his robes and quickly drew his hands through his perfect hair and then strutted past her into the Great Hall as if nothing had happened. Ginny was just left to gape at him from her spot on the floor. She gingerly lifted herself up and walked in a daze after him into the Hall and sat down between Neville and Hermione.
After several minutes of Neville’s elbow on her plate, she just blew up at him. Yelling so the whole hall could hear, she said, “For Merlin’s sake, Longbottom. Can you be any less aggravating? Get your damn elbow off my plate!” And she pushed his entire arm off the table.
She had never called him by his surname before; only people in other houses did that. She could tell it was that that had hurt him more than her mean words; his eyes told her so. She had never spoken to anyone with that kind of scorn before and immediately she felt bad about it. She felt as if the earth was going to open up and swallow her whole. As she glanced along her table, she saw the shocked faces of her housemates and felt like a monster.
As she looked up, she saw Malfoy standing at his house table. He smirked at her and held her gaze, as if daring her to look away. She looked away and shook her head. Flushing royal red, she quietly leaned over to Neville, put her hand on his arm and apologized. He hugged her and she stood up and walked to the door. Just before leaving the hall she turned her head and gave Draco a loathsome look and then waltzed out and up the stairs to the common room.
Ginny was more disgusted with herself for letting Draco Malfoy say anything to make her act so out of character. He was the vile little prat she knew he was, regardless of the tenderness she saw when he called her by her given name.
What Ginny hadn’t seen was the flush of shame on his face after she’d exited the Great Hall. He didn’t care a whit for Longbottom, but he felt terrible for her, for what he had done to her.