A Role to Play by jandjsalmon
A/N: A HUGE HUGE thank you to my fabulous betas. This story took over a year to get typed up - funny since it only took about 3 weeks to write, but because it took me so long, I had several wonderful girls help with the betaing. Colleen, Cassie, Jess, and Katie. Thank you SO SO much guys! ;)
PROLOGUE - The Game Begins
He decided he hated prefect meetings. They were always the same. Every year they got the same instructions, and every year he'd had to endure the pointed looks during the lecture about not abusing their positions. It wasn't anything new; he'd been a prefect since 5th year, but last year had been different because she was made a prefect too and he knew this year was going to be the hardest because he was realizing that it might just be impossible to control his looks and actions around her.
He would have much rather been safe within the confines of his own compartment, surrounded by fellow Slytherins, than trapped in here across from the object of his private obsession. The one upside was that Potter wasn't a prefect, so he wasn't there, so he had that obsession to himself… sort of.
This was his last year and he was glad of it. If he had had to endure another train ride in her presence he was sure the strain would kill him. If not the strain, then her older brother would, because he knew being in such close quarters with her again next year would have been too much for him and he would have had to just grab her and kiss her until the madness ebbed out of him. Yeah… he was glad it was his last year.
Obviously, he wasn't controlling himself well. Unrequited love was just something a Malfoy never felt. A Malfoy always got what a Malfoy wanted. Clearly his heart didn't want to agree with his mind, because in his head he knew she'd never be able to forget who she was long enough to love him in spite of who he was. And yet, he couldn't stop loving her.
He should have stopped this unholy obsession before it had gotten this far. The first time he had ever seen her had been the summer before his second year. Potter was holding court with Weasel and the Mudblood at Flourish & Blotts. She'd been there too, her face all sooty from flooing in. He caught site of her flaming hair and he couldn't look away. Shaking his head a bit, he was reminded that Potter was once again basking in his apparent love of the spotlight. He'd gotten close to them and made it perfectly clear that Potter's feigned modesty didn't fool anyone.
"Leave him alone, he didn't want all that!"
And that was it. The first thing he ever heard the girl of his dreams say, and she defended that prat.
With his usual flair he'd insulted and embarrassed her. "Got yourself a little girlfriend Potter?" All the while wishing that it was he who she belonged to, rather than Scarhead.
Furious, Draco had left the shop swearing that he'd never think about her again. He should have kept that promise to himself but he just couldn't. Now it was five years later and he still couldn't stop thinking about her.
So, there they were, nearly done the first prefect meeting of his final year and it was her laughter that finally shook him embarrassingly out of his dream world. His cheeks turned a pale sort of pink colour but he looked relieved. He didn't think anyone had noticed his momentary phase-out, but to make sure, he turned to the Head Girl (Granger of course) to pretend he had been paying attention to her last minute instructions all along.
He couldn't get out of there faster.
Things seemed better for Draco once they arrived at school. It was almost easy not to think about her when he was surrounded by other Slytherins. During the feast he purposely sat with Goyle in between him and the fairer Weasley's end of the Gryffindor table. Of course Draco hadn't told him why he wanted him to sit there. Goyle, who was now dating Pansy Parkinson ("Thank heaven for small favours," thought Draco) was the perfect shield. Their relationship was beginning to pose a little bit of a problem for Draco's immediate needs though. With Goyle across from him he was shielded because Goyle was big enough to block the small red head from view, but as soon as he was finished eating, he leaned over his new girlfriend and started kissing her neck, leaving Draco's vision of the fiery Gryffindor vixen completely unimpaired.
He tried not to look at her but his resolve crumbled when he heard her laughing. She laughed all the time it seemed. He'd often wondered what it felt like to be laughing with her instead of being so far away from her when she did it. She didn't often laugh when he was near her.
Ginny didn't notice him looking over, so he just watched for a while. She was listening to something Longbottom was saying and then turning to repeat it to Granger. The Weasel heard and guffawed along with them. It must have been some idiot joke. She'd laugh at anything.
She had no idea how pretty she was when she laughed.
If it hadn't been for Dumbledore getting up to start the annual announcements, Draco probably would have been caught staring. Though he didn't like to admit it, those Gryffindors were much more astute than the idiots he gathered around him. The Slytherins would never notice his obsession with Ginny, even if she jumped on top the House Table and proceeded to give Draco a lap dance. "Stop it!" he thought to himself, "Don't think about her doing that here!" He rebuked himself for that thought almost daily.
"Welcome and good evening. I trust this year's feast was an improvement upon last year's closing one." Dumbledore's eyes fixed upon Potter and gave a little twinkle. "Now that Voldemort and his supporters have been vanquished there is much to celebrate at the coming of this new school year here at Hogwarts…"
Draco stopped paying attention at that… "Yes, yes, we're all glad St. Potter finished off the Dark Lord so we can get back to our mediocre education," he thought, "can we get on with it?"
"…the most important, of course, is Inter-house Cooperation and friendly relations between the houses. To that end, we have planned a year long activity that I hope will help develop friendships among all students, regardless of House. There is also an extra bonus for those of you who wish to play. In addition to learning how to make and keep friends of all backgrounds, you will receive extra credit in either History of Magic or Muggle Studies for participating. Perhaps Professor Morag would do the honours and explain the game."
Completely failing to hide her enthusiasm, the young, excited Muggle Studies professor stood up and began to speak.
"You see … we've prepared a, for lack of a better word, we've prepared a Muggle-like game called a 'Role Playing Game' to encourage Inter-house relations this year. In the Muggle world these games have been played for years, but we've added a magical twist.
The way to play is easy: To begin you chose a character or 'role' to play in one of the three game pools. The first night you write a simple introduction to the whole group and from then on you write a group letter daily. The group letters are magically joined together and everyone gets a copy of everyone's letters. Your group leader, who will be one of the three participating Heads of House, will write every two weeks to guide the story along. Every other day, allowing for replies of course, you write a single individual letter to another character while 'in character' that will be private between the two of you. The plot of the story is completely decided upon by you, the cast, and can change the more people you chose to individually write to. Think of this as a play - you get to pretend to be someone else and no one knows which part is yours.
The letters don't have to be long, and it shouldn't take up too much of your homework time. Sounds easy doesn't it?
She looked around the Great Hall and saw some nodding heads and smiles, but many wary or confused looks as well.
"There is one major catch though … if you do sign up to play it will be as though you signed a magical contract … well, in fact you will have signed a magical contract. You agree to play to the end or until any of the main rules are broken. You are also agreeing to not openly divulge which character you are until the end-of-year ball following exams in June."
With that bit of news the Hall erupted with chatter. A ball? Every girl started giggling and more than a few boys blushed and looked up at the ceiling, down at the floor, or off into space.
Ginny didn't giggle she just smiled. "I love that about her," thought Draco as he happened to catch the red-head looking over at his table. "What was that about?" he wondered, hoping she hadn't read what he had just been thinking on his face.
"Yes, yes, there will be a ball … but, back to the game. In order to keep your 'role' a secret, mail delivery will be different than what you're used to. Instead of owls these letters, or game-mail, will be delivered much like Christmas gifts are delivered when you stay at school over the holidays: By House elf, privately, first thing in the morning, in your dormitories. That way, the actual owl you use will not be a giveaway and letters will remain private. Now, are there any questions?"
Finnigan, the loud Irish Gryffindor asked, "What exactly are we getting marked on then? How well we write, or our 'imaginary story'?"
"Excellent question Mr. Finnigan. These letters will not be read by the staff, unless of course there is a problem between students and the like. No. The extra credit will be earned by simply writing. The staff will get reports from the house elf reporting system on who is actively participating. So, if you don't write you don't get the grade. It's not the intention of the game to peek in on your private thoughts, even if they are just a 'character's thoughts', but it is to make new friends and go a little out of your comfort zone. Privacy is important, so the letters are to be addressed to the character from the character and can not be read by anyone else without explicit permission … it will be impossible to see the ink unless you are the addressee.
"So, the character description sheets will be available following my remarks. You won't be able to sign up until 8 pm tonight. And I must remind you that once you sign your name to the character, the character's name will have a little golden 'chosen' appear by it on all description sheets and you will have signed the magical contract to participate in the game as said character. Feel free to begin with a brief introduction to the group for tomorrow. Perhaps whom you think your character is in respect to the others in the group and the like. Then peruse the descriptions of your fellow cast mates and choose someone with whom you might be interested in corresponding privately. And … I think that is everything. I hope you'll all be really excited about this. We planned it with a lot of fun in mind."
With that, Professor Morag sat down. With a wave of her hand, description sheets for this new game appeared in front of every student. Draco could hear conversations pop up all over the hall, along with the requisite giggles and excited laughter. He looked at his fellow Slytherins and could tell that there were even several of them who looked interested, even if they wanted to mask their enthusiasm.
He hated History of Magic, or rather, his mind wandered too much while Binns lectured. He often fell asleep, though he'd hate to admit it if anyone asked. He decided that extra credit would be a good thing … and he grabbed the descriptions and got up to go down to his common room.
With luck like his, Draco found himself walking behind Granger and Ginny as they left the Great Hall. He caught a bit of what they were saying, though he tried to look as though he wasn't paying any attention to the girls at all.
"I know I have to play … I desperately need the extra credit." Ginny said.
"Oh, Ginny. You do really well in classes and you know it. I always wonder how you can get such good grades while Ronald has to copy my notes every night." Granger stifled a giggle.
"Um…" Ginny turned red, "I fall asleep every History of Magic class." On seeing Granger's look she got a little defensive. "Look, I'm just not interested and Binns' lectures are just so bloody boring! Besides, I don't have a 'Hermione' in my year to snag notes from … I need the credit."
Draco fell back after hearing that and let some Hufflepoof third years in front of him. He didn't want to appear like he was interested in what they were saying and he was having a hard time removing the amused grin plastered to his face. He always pictured Ginny as 'the perfect student' when it came to school work. She ran around with Granger after all. Knowing she was more like him after all made him feel closer to her, even if he couldn't talk to her without an insult or ever, ever touch her.
As he turned into the Slytherin common room, it looked like several fellow students were gathering together to choose parts in the same game groups. He decided to go straight to his dormitory to pick his 'role' for the game in private. That way he could have one of the school House Elves bring him some hot chocolate. He didn't particularly care to choose a character with the intent purpose of getting another Slytherin, particularly this bunch of idiots, who couldn't grasp that the game was supposed to be anonymous.
Once he was sitting on his bed with his hangings pulled and a large mug of chocolate, he started reading by the light of his wand. His eyes stopped as soon as he saw Bleddri.
CHARACTER NAME: Bleddri - male
CHARACTER DESCRIPTION: A knight. Known to have kidnapped a fair maiden -Vaina- for unknown reasons…
Is he noble or malevolent? It's up to you.
As soon as he read it he knew that was the role he was meant to play. In his opinion it summed up his own personality perfectly. From the outside he looks as though he's evil … he kidnapped a fair maiden for Merlin's sake, but are outward appearances always the truth?
While waiting for 8 pm Draco perused the other names in this section and found the one person he knew he had to write his first individual letter to.
CHARACTER NAME: Vaina - female
CHARACTER DESCRIPTION: Fair maiden with a bewitched father and an evil
step-mother who wants to kill her. She is kidnapped by a handsome knight -Bleddri- from her father's court.
Is she safer with him or would it be better for her to run away? It's up to you.
At exactly 8 pm he signed his name next to Bleddri so no one else would snap it up before he could. As Professor Morag said, there was a tiny golden 'chosen' next to it now, and a few minutes later the same word appeared next to Vaina's description. "Great! At least one person to play with… and she's Bleddri's hen at that!" Draco thought encouragingly. He quickly wrote his introduction to the game for the group tomorrow.
"I guess I'm Bleddri. I'm a knight. I captured the 'beautiful Vaina' and placed her in an enchanted castle. Presumably I have a good reason, but even if I don't, it's probably only a matter of time before she stops resisting and falls madly in love with me."
"Well," he thought, "I guess it sort of sounds like me… we'll see how it goes." And he sealed the letter, placed it on the description sheet that would double for a postbox - the elves knew to take the letters off the parchment - and went down to the common room to grab a chocolate frog off of one of the first years. "It's the first day. I have to abuse Prefect Power somehow," he thought as he grinned to himself.