CHAPTER FOUR - The Beginning?

The evening before Christmas break began all the students at Hogwarts rounded themselves into the Great Hall for the big Christmas feast. Ginny had settled herself between Colin Creevy and Alexia Blaine, both in her year, but neither a particularly close friend.

Since the game began in September Ginny had seemed to retract into herself, thinking of amusing stories to tell Bleddri or to think of other questions meant to stump him. She knew he was being guarded about certain aspects of himself and she wanted to make it clear to him that she was completely trustworthy. That it wouldn’t matter to her in the least if he were a … well, even if he is a Slytherin, even if he is Zabini, Goyle, or Malfoy, she’d still be his friend. “Well, Goyle isn’t bright enough to be Bleddri, Zabini isn’t playing, and Malfoy … well, if he’s Bleddri as soon as he finds out it’s me he’s been sharing all those private thoughts with he’d probably perform an Unforgivable on himself and never write again!” She reasoned. She mused to herself that she ought to write that in her next letter. The thought made her laugh. The two of them rarely spoke about other students by name, but the thought amused her anyway.

Nearing the conclusion of dinner, Dumbledore stood up to make his end of term announcements.

“Good evening to you all. There are just a few brief announcements before you head off to your families and loved ones tomorrow.

Professor Sinistra has asked me to remind all 5th and 7th year Astronomy students to turn in their term assignments to her no later than tomorrow at noon. Also, she said that she has already pushed the due date back from last Wednesday so she expects every paper on time. She will not accept late parchments unless bribed with sweets and butterbeer!”

A quiet giggle washed over the hall.

Now, on the topic of our game, some of you have been reminded to get your letter output up on more than one occasion. Tomorrow a sign up sheet will accompany your group letters allowing those of you who wish to back out of the magical contract to do so. Those of you who choose to sign off will receive half credit for participating thus far. It will release you from the contract, and all of that unwanted main, or lack thereof.

From those of you who are keenly participating and I’m very happy to say there is quite a large number of you, there have been some questions regarding game mail over the holiday break.”

At this Ginny’s attention was solely on Dumbledore’s words. While keenly listening she scanned the room just to see if anyone else was listening as closely. There were several, mostly girls … but then her eyes turned to Malfoy. His silvery blond head was glued to the headmaster as if he were inhaling every word. Only once did he look away from Dumbledore, and that was to look directly at her. Ginny quickly looked away but the beginning of a very funny feeling was building in the back of her mind.

“While here at school the game mail has been delivered at night by the house elves…”

Hermione coughed what sounded like “slave labour!” Dumbledore continued with an amused twinkle in his eye.

“House elves that of course volunteered for the job.”

Hermione blushed at his quiet smile.

“When you’re at home this will be difficult as most of you do not have house elves of your own. So, Professor Flitwick and I have found a solution to this. Along with the release sign-up forms being sent to you tomorrow morning will be an enchanted parchment for those of you who would like to receive game mail over the break to sign up. Then, you write your letters and place them on top of the parchment at night and, as if by magic, they will be charmed to the proper recipient every morning. As we teachers know your character’s identities (and no Mr. Weasley, we’re not telling!) you can just sign up under their name and we’ll be sure to get the properly addressed letters to you.

Lastly, Congratulations are in order for Madam Pince, our staff librarian, and our Caretaker, Mr. Filtch, who will be getting married while away in Bermuda on break. Many Happy Returns!

Happy Christmas to you all! Have a good break and we’ll see you here no later than the 2nd of January. Now, enjoy your puddings and sweets and later your common room parties that none of the teachers are supposed to know about!"

Even in the bustle of everyone getting up to go, Ginny was able to observe Malfoy a bit as she stood. Over the last two months he hadn’t been nearly as nasty as he usually was, in fact, almost from that day when he’d caught her after Quiddich trials she could see something in his soft gray eyes that she wasn’t sure belonged there when he looked at her. Now, when they caught each other looking he was usually the one to break the gaze first, even sometimes turning a soft shade of pink. Ginny wondered what had gotten in to him and made a mental note to ask Bleddri how boy’s minds worked.

Hermione caught up to Ginny as she was just about out of the Great Hall. “Hey, Gin! How have you been lately? I haven’t seen much of you.”

“Good ‘Mione. I’m really good, actually. I’ve been caught up with classes, Quiddich and you know … but I’ve missed seeing you guys too!” She smiled at her friend.

“So, it was Ron that Dumbledore was talking about … with the game, not writing as often as he should. Not surprising really, but …” and Hermione looked as though the question was fighting her lips, “we were just wondering if you were going to keep playing. I’m only asking because I figure it’s one of the reasons you’ve not really been ‘around’ for the last few months and … well, I miss you, and I know Harry … and Ron, well, we all miss having you with us.”

Putting her arm around her friend Ginny said, “Oh ‘Mione, you’re so sweet. Yes, I am still going to play, I really need the credit for History, you know how useless I am in Binns’ class, and you know, I’ve made a really good friend, a best friend, and it’ been a whole lot of mad fun!!”

There was a large crash behind them that made them turn around and face Malfoy, who’d been walking out behind them. He must have stopped in his tracks and cause a pile-up because there were several people behind him sprawled on the floor. He had such a stunned look on his face, almost as if he’d been slapped or something, and he was looking right at Ginny.

Ginny, a little stunned herself, allowed herself to be pulled out the doors by an unconcerned Hermione.

“Wow! What was that about?” Hermione asked no one in particular. “I’d say he looked as if he’d seen a ghost … but that’s not that unusual around here is it? Just wait until you see the decorations. It took forever, but I think the party tonight will be brilliant! You are going to stay and hang out aren’t you?”

The talk continued on that vein until they got up to the common room. Head girl Hermione had out done herself. The common room looked fabulous. Ginny knew she didn’t want to be alone with her thoughts and she agreed to stay and have fun with the rest of the Gryffindors. Still, there was something at the back of her brain that was trying to work itself out. Sitting herself down between Harry and Ron and laughing heartily at Ron’s cracks about the Ravenclaw’s last Quiddich practice (where captain Michael Corner’s broom stopped but he didn’t) made her almost forget about whom she’d rather be spending tonight with … almost.

It was only when Harry put his hand on hers that she mentally figured out what had been bugging her all night. That weird feeling at the back of her head all of a sudden jumped out at her. Malfoy. Draco Malfoy was Bleddri. He must have just figured out who she was when he acted so shocked in the Great Hall. Ginny felt ill, and excused herself leaving Harry open mouthed in the common room alone, even with the party raging on around him.


The next morning Ginny woke up and, expectantly, went straight for her game mail. She got the group letter and the two sign-up sheets Dumbledore had mentioned but when she looked for the individual letter from Bleddri (obviously it was really from Draco, but she wasn’t thinking about that yet) she couldn’t find it.

She suddenly felt hollow. It was the first time since the game began that Bleddri (Draco) hadn’t written. Panic hit her … was she the one that was supposed to have written? No, she had written yesterday asking what he’d wanted to do after Hogwarts. She’s asked his opinion on her choice of life vocation too. She’d always assumed she’d be a Healer -- it’s what everyone expected of her, but personally she was leaning towards a more academic career. The irony wasn’t lost on her that she was failing History of Magic and still she wanted an academic job someday.

She’d hoped that he would have written back telling her, sarcasm dripping from his quill, that she should either get her broomstick out of her arse and pay attention in Binns’ class or give up and become a circus performer or something. Perhaps even offer her a job as one of his house elf’s assistants. But no letter came.

Ginny racked her brain to remember if she’d said anything in her letter that would have upset him, but she couldn’t think of anything. Her only conclusion was that along with the look of shock, it really was horror on Draco Malfoy’s face when he’d realized the night before that it was her, a Weasley blood traitor that he’d been writing to and he had decided to put a stop to it.

That thought hurt her even more than she thought it would. She’d figured out it had been Malfoy and she still wanted to write her friend. Perhaps she had been wrong all along about the goodness of Draco’s heart.

She flipped though the letters and sign-up parchments and saw that there were already a few names resigning from the game. Bleddri’s wasn’t one of them, but his name wasn’t on the holiday delivery list either. “Hmmm…” thought Ginny, “Maybe the Slytherins really know how to throw an end of term party and he hasn’t woken up yet.”

Ginny tried to push the dread out of her head, telling herself it was too early to expect the worst. She put her name down for holiday delivery, in case Draco ever wrote again, and then she put on a happy face, so her fellow Gryffindors wouldn’t suspect anything. She had never felt so alone, even though she was surrounded by dozens of people.


Breakfast wasn’t a solemn affair at the Gryffindor table, except for Ginny and Harry. He looked like he’d eaten glass all night, but Ginny hardly noticed. She sat down between Neville and Luna (who was visiting from the Ravenclaw table) and gave them a brief smile. She was so glad that Neville have completely forgiven her for her out of character outburst at the beginning of term. He really was a sweet boy, and Ginny reflected on how much he’d grown by dating someone as wild and fun loving as Luna. Before he’d always seemed afraid to let the world really see him, but now, well… he just seemed to glow.

Though she was miserable on the outside, she tried to look happy for the sake of appearances, but she was not very successful at it. Hermione have her several covert looks that showed she was concerned. The only person who looked more miserable was Malfoy. Ginny had made a point to look across the hall at his table. He was sitting, hand on his chin, staring down into his scrambled eggs, while pushing them around with his fork. He only looked up once. His cool gray eyes held hers for a few seconds and then looked back down again in defeated sadness. She could see her own pain emanating out of Draco’s miserable gray eyes.

“I wonder what makes him sadder, that he realized he shared all those deep dark secrets with a Weasley or… well, there isn’t anything else that’s worse for a Malfoy is there?” She wondered bitterly. He’d been the one who hadn’t written. He must have had some moral objection to being friends with a Muggle-loving blood traitor. Imagine; she’d been dreaming about dating the git even before the game began. What had she been thinking? He would never have felt anything but scorn for someone like her.

She remembered back on the day he’d caught her after Quiddich. She remembered that he’d called her by her given name. That was weird, but it had been a memory she’d clung to over the last few months. The tenderness she’d seen in his eyes before he went git again. Thinking about it made her face feel hot, and she always had to remind her self that a few short seconds later he’d dropped and insulted her.

Ginny made a mental note to write to Bleddri and ask him why boys were so weird… and then remembered that even if things hadn’t changed between them, he hadn’t signed up for holiday delivery so she couldn’t write him tomorrow, and that he was the last person to give advice about Draco. Why would he provide insight about himself?

“Funny,” she mused to herself, “if you would have told me in September that I’d become friends with Malfoy I’d of never believed you … and now he’s my best friend and he’s broken my heart.”

She tried to look over at him before she left the Great Hall, but he wasn’t at his table. He’d left and she’d missed the opportunity to talk to him before they left.


After breakfast Ginny finished packing and sat down on her bed with the two sign-up parchments in hand. She expected Bleddri’s name to have appeared after seeing Draco so miserable, but it didn’t appear on either sheet. “Well, at least he hasn’t signed up to be rid of me yet. I wonder what’s taking so long.” She sighed and put the two sheets into her bag before settling down to re-read some of the dozens of letters he’d written to her over the last four months. She and the trio weren’t scheduled to Floo to the Burrow until half eleven so she had lots of time to read and connect Bleddri and Draco Malfoy. It was difficult for her to believe that she hadn’t put two and two together before now.

Their Floo to the Burrow was uneventful. Her mother gave them all a hug as they came through the grate, levitated their bags to the proper rooms, and then set Ginny to helping prepare Christmas while the other three went and did what they always did.

Without even grumbling, Ginny set to work and while she was busy decorating and baking during the day she was able to put the misery she felt aside. It was that first hour of the morning, after waking, but before going down to breakfast that she had troubles with. Every night she’d check the parchments to see if Bleddri had appeared on either, and then every morning she did it again. After a good cry, she’d get herself dressed and head back down to face the day with a happy face glued to a sad, depressed girl.

Harry, it seemed, was the only one who noticed something was wrong. At least he was the only one to mention it. He waylaid her one morning before breakfast.

“Gin? Can I talk to you for a mo’?

“Sure Harry. What do you need?” she asked as he pulled her into the bathroom. Then looking around, and giving her best seductive giggle she said, “Uh, Harry? This isn’t the best place to proposition me.”

At that, Harry started. “Proposition… what? Uh, no.” he stuttered and turned red.

“Relax Harry, I was only kidding. What can I do for you?” she asked with a small smile.

“Ginny, what’s wrong?” He looked intently at her with those bright green things he liked to call eyes. “Since our last day at Hogwarts you’ve just been so sad. I hope it’s not… well… I hope it’s not because I tried to hold your hand in the common room.”

Ginny went to protest but Harry interrupted her, “Don’t tell me it’s nothing. I know something’s wrong. You’ve been quiet for months, but you at least looked happy. Really happy in fact. That’s why we haven’t pushed you into hanging out more often… it’s why I haven’t told you how I’ve felt about you until now. But these past few days… well, you look like you’ve died inside.”

Seeing how much he really did care for her, Ginny couldn’t hold it all in anymore. She began to sob and Harry gathered her awkwardly into his arms for a hug.

“Oh Harry. I’m so sorry. I’m not upset at you, though I am really sorry about how I reacted in the common room. I’m just so… it’s just the game. Everything has turned upside down. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve become best friends with the boy I’ve been writing, and he… he just stopped. He figured out who I was and now he’s never going to write again.”

“Ginny. It’s okay. I am sure it wasn’t you. It was probably just the holiday. Why would he stop if he found out the prettiest girl in school was his pen pal?”

“No. I know it wasn’t just the holidays. He wrote every other day except that last one. He missed that day after the feast. I figured out who he was that night and it didn’t make me want to stop writing him. I can see the wonderful inside he has despite his rather nasty outside. What kind of person am I that he wouldn’t be able to do the same thing with me? Am I that horrible?”

“Ginny, it’s just a game. Remember?”

“Oh Harry, you just don’t get it! We aren’t playing anymore. We haven’t written on topic for eight weeks at least. He’s my friend. He’s my best friend. He knows me better than anyone. I already was attracted to his outside, I’ve been crazy about him for nearly two years, but now that I really know him…” she looked at Harry apologetically, “I… I think I love him. It just hurts so much to think that I did or said something, or even just who I am would make him not think about me at all, even as a friend. What’s worse, I think it’s more likely that he may have felt things for me too, but once he found out who I was his revulsion for what I am made him forget those feelings.”

She cried again, and Harry let her hide her face in his shoulder while she sobbed. He just patted his best friend’s little sister back and told her than the new term would be better and that he’d be here if she needed him. She was the only person he cared more for than Ron and Hermione and it hurt him to see her so miserable.
“Thanks Harry. You’ve been really nice. I’m sorry I’ve been just a wanker. I really am sorry… for everything.” Ginny wiped her eyes, “you won’t tell anyone what a fuss I’ve made will you?”

“No way Gin! What else are ‘sorta big brothers’ for?” A sad little smile graced his lips.

“You haven’t been watching my brothers very closely have you?” Ginny grinned and finally felt good for the first time since break began. It was pretty nice having someone show they care about you.


Ginny had an easier time carrying on with her charade after her talk with Harry. The last few days before Christmas her whole family was home and with that many brothers and their wives and girlfriends around it was pretty easy to keep her mind on things other than Malfoy.

On Christmas Eve she glanced over at her parchments. No Bleddri. At least that was something. No resignation yet. Ginny deliberated just sending his Christmas gift to his house via owl since he hadn’t signed up for holiday delivery, but she just wasn’t brave enough, even with Lucius Malfoy tucked safely away in Azkaban for life.

She fingered the cloak pin she’d bought Draco. A silver snake coiled around a sword. It had been a pain to find something so specific, but down a street in Diagon Alley that she would prefer her mother never find out she’d ventured, she was able to find the perfect gift for essentially, the perfect Slytherin. She didn’t know if she’d ever get up enough courage to give it to him, or whether he’d ever wear it, but it was something she had been able to put her heart into (obviously the part that wasn’t broken).

She tried to imagine his face as she fell asleep, never noticing the golden Bleddri emboss itself on to one of the sign-ups.


In the morning, the light came glaring though Ginny’s windows. She’d forgotten to close her blinds last night. As her eyes fluttered open she reminded herself that it was Christmas Day.

Unlike Hogwarts, presents at home appeared under the Christmas Tree in the lounge rather than at the foot of the bed. Ginny rubbed her tired eyes and got up. She could tell it was still early, but she shoved her feet into her slippers and went to grab her dressing gown of the back of her chair and head downstairs. She could already hear stirring below stairs and knew it was just a matter of time before Ron or the twins came bounding into her room to wake her for presents.

Out of habit more than anything, she looked to her desktop where she kept the game signup sheets and all the game mail she’d received over the break. Instead of just the general letter from the group that she’d expected, she saw something that made her stop.

A dark green letter and a small silver box were sitting on the charmed holiday parchment. The letter was addressed in his clear, crisp handwriting.

TO Vaina, FROM Bleddri

She ripped open the seal and her heart gave a little start.

Dear Ginny,

You read that right. I know it’s you. I can’t tell you how much I wish I was a braver man than I am … but then again, if I was then I would have probably been sorted into Gryffindor and I would have been able to tell you how I felt about you years ago.

It’s so hard to write about this, but I have to stop the game. I have to resign. I’ve broken the magical contract, I know who you are. I know it’s not a good reason, but it’ll work.

Now that I feel I know you, the ‘real’ you that I’ve wanted to get to know for so long, I know what a kind, wonderful, sweet heart you have… and I can’t keep writing to you knowing what emptiness I have in my own. Knowing what I am, and how betrayed you would feel if you knew… I just can’t.

This was much more than a game to me, and I am just not strong enough to keep playing, to keep baring my soul with the off chance that you’d find out who I am and despise me for it. You’d think I was trying to take advantage of you… and that’s just not fair. Not true, and not fair.

I know it’s not much, but I’ve sent you a Christmas gift. If you ever want to wear it please remember that to me, you were the only one who ever set my heart on fire.

And Ginny… I am so sorry. I never wanted to make you cry.


Ginny gasped through tears and reached for the silver box. As she opened it she gasped again. There, on the satin pillow in the tiny box, was a perfectly wrought silver ‘G’ with half a dozen diamonds and six more little green stones that Ginny knew were her birthstone running down the middle of it. She reached down to touch it and a magical flame enveloped it. It was cool to the touch and as long as the metal made contact with her pale skin the heatless flame remained, surrounding the ‘G’ like a torch. It made the letter shine so bright.

She knew what this was. She’d written a two feet long essay on its properties for Charms class last term. It was the ‘eternal flame’ charm. Pretty advanced magic and meant to be a sign of remembrance and affection between two people who loved each other.

“If I ever want to wear it? Draco Malfoy you are a complete and utter prat! Of Course I am going to wear it!” and she put the charmed silver around her neck. The golden flame tickled and made the flecks of yellow in her brown eyes flicker and gleam. “If he thinks I am giving him up without a fight… without doing anything, then he doesn’t know me at all! Hmmm… think of it. A Malfoy, with such self-esteem issues, no one would believe it!”

And with that, she grabbed her dressing gown and joined her family to open presents. She knew there would be questions, and she knew exactly how she was going to answer them… truthfully. “This is only the beginning Mr. Malfoy.” She smiled as she closed her door behind her.
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