Hermione flipped through the travel magazine her mother had subscribed to in the hopes of a vacation, though Hermione knew they would never go anywhere. Still, it was fun to look through, even for a ten year old girl. She turned the page and scanned the adds for nothing better to do. It was then that she saw the add for a pen pal.
Wanted: One penpal for bored ten year old boy who likes games, music, and reading. Required, know how to write and is funny. Write to Fluffy Bunny. Under that was an address.
Hermione stared at it for a while. Someone posted a penpal add in a travel magazine? She'd read of penpal adds in the newspaper and had once thought of doing the same thing, but had pushed the idea aside. Just because she didn't have many friends didn't mean she was desperate enough to put out an add for one. Besides, she had little money to do so. But this person wanted a penpal and she was bored enough to respond.
She slid off her bed and walked over to her writing desk, sitting down in front of some notebook paper she'd left on her desk a while ago. Picking up her favorite writing pen, Hermione looked at the add. 'Fluffy Bunny.' An odd name to write to, but it was probably an inside joke or a name he'd picked at random.
Dear Fluffy Bunny,
I found your ad in the magazine. I'm a ten year old girl who's bored enough to write to you. I have to ask about your pen name. Is it an inside joke, or were you just that bored? Either way, you're stuck with it now. I know you want one penpal and I hope you choose me. I've got nothing else to do, really. School doesn't start for a few months.
So, besides games, music, and reading, what do you like to do for fun? I read a lot, most call me a bookworm. But, other than that, my parents make me play the piano and I go swimming at the community pool. Not to brag, but I'm the best at the swan dive. Do you swim? There are some people out there who don't even know how to dog paddle.
I like singing, though I get teased that I wouldn't be able to carry a tune in a bucket with a handle. But I say they're just jealous of my beautiful talent. Do you sing? You said you liked music. What kind? Do you play any instruments? Are you even going to answer these questions?
Well, I've written enough, it seems. I'll send you this letter and get on with it. Oh, I guess I better have a cool pen name, too, right?
Well, that's all I've got to write,
Hermione read over her letter and folded it, slipping it into an envelope and writing the address on it. She walked downstairs and put it in the mailbox. Now, it was just waiting for a reply.
Five days later, she got a reply.
Dear Bushy Cat,
Really? That's the pen name you're going with? Well, I can't really complain. I chose mine out of boredom and I'm stuck with it, as you said. Anyway, I've chosen you as my penpal. Everyone else was just plain weird or creepy. Yours was the only one that sounded fun.
So, to answer your questions, because it's a start. I can swim, I do sing, I like all kinds of music except rap and polka, and I can play the piano, violin, trumpet, clarinet, and the tuba (don't you dare make a joke about that). My parents thought I should learn a few instruments and I picked the tuba to make them angry. It worked. And then they wouldn't let me quit, so I am an avid tuba player. Which made me pick up the trumpet, then the clarinet, then the violin, and finally the piano. Weird, huh?
Well, what about you? I know you can swim and do a swan dive and you can sing, though others think you can't. What are you, anyways? Alto? Soprano? How high can you get?
Well, I'll leave you with a few questions you can answer. What do you look like? When's your birthday? Are you excited for school to start? What's your favorite subject? Do you like strawberry shortcake with whipped cream? That last one was just something random.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Fluffy Bunny (you know, it's not so embarrassing anymore)
Hermione smiled. This guy sounded fun. She looked at the paper and ran her fingers over it. Funny. This paper was thick and felt different than her notebook paper. Like construction paper only smoother. Maybe he was from a rich family or maybe he just liked this paper. Whatever the case, it was cool. She sat down and started writing a reply.
For the next two months, Hermione traded letters with Fluffy Bunny, becoming close friends. She was happy to receive his letters and read his letters with laughter when he told her something that had happened to him during the week. From his letters, she gathered that he was a rich kid with annoying parents that were rarely there and forced tradition on him, though he hated it. He was athletic and liked sports. But his favorite hobby was tormenting the servants, which served to make Hermione laugh when he told her about his antics. She thought she could go forever with just writing to her friend, but that changed when she received a letter on her eleventh birthday...by an owl. She was a witch and was going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; a world of magic. And she had to write the hardest letter ever to her friend, knowing she could never bring him with her into that world. How could she keep it from him? He was a muggle, if she used Professor Dumbledore's term correctly.
Dear Fluffy Bunny,
I laughed so hard over the rose garden incident you told me about in your last letter. Your poor gardener must hate you now, after painting all his red roses white. So Alice in Wonderland. But she painted the white roses red. But this has the Bunny touch.
I have terrible news, though. I'm being sent to a kind of boarding school for the next seven years. I'll be back during summer break, but I'm afraid I won't be able to continue writing letters anymore. Please don't ask why, it's just too complicated to explain. But just know that I will always keep your letters with me and think of you often.
I will miss you terribly. Please don't forget me either.
Signed, for the last time,
Hermione folded the letter and put it in an envelope. After mailing it, she packed her school trunk of her school supplies and robes. When everything was packed and she'd locked her trunk, she looked at the pile of letters she'd received from her friend. They were stacked in chronologic order in a fake hollowed out book. She climbed into bed and pulled them toward her, rereading each one he'd ever sent. She fell asleep with them sprawled around her.
The next day, on the Hogwarts Express, she tried to find a place to sit, but everywhere was full and then a boy grabbed her to help find his toad. Great. First day and there was no where to sit and no one she knew. She wished Bunny was here.
She pushed open a door and found two boys, one a redhead and the other black haired, eating some sweets. "Have you see a toad? A boy named Neville has lost his," she asked. They shook their heads. "Drat. Well, thanks," she said, turning to go, but she ran into someone. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"Watch where you're going," the boy snapped.
Hermione looked up at him and took in his slicked blond hair and expensive looking robes. She met his eyes and, not in the mood to play nice or timed, snapped, "Attitude, much? Who do you think you are?"
The boy lifted an eyebrow at her. "I'm Draco Malfoy," he said, as if she was expected to know who he was. "Who are you?"
"Hermione Granger," she said. She was about to leave, then asked, "Have you seen a toad, by any chance?"
Draco looked at her like she'd lost her mind. "No. Why would I be looking for a toad?"
"Some kid lost it," Hermione said. "Duh." She turned and left. Wow, that guy was full of himself. She hoped she never had to deal with him.
Seven Years later
Hermione stared at Professor McGonagall as she stood in the middle of the Gryffindor common room. "I'm sorry, professor," Dean Thomas said. "Could you repeat that?"
The woman nodded and said, "As Headmistress, I have come up with a new program. Too many things have been left unsettle after the war. Inner house cooperation is crucial. We need to be one big happy school. So, you will all be assigned a penpal. You will correspond with this person, without knowing their identity, for the entire year with at least one letter per week. You are not allowed to share who your penpal truly is with anyone if you find out who they are, nor are you allowed to show people your letters. And don't try reading them out loud, either. There are certain spells that prevent that. You need only write a letter and send it with a school owl and the owl will take it to your penpal. Aliases are mandatory, as is full cooperation. Anyone not participating will receive detention for each letter not sent. Also, you are not allowed to ask your penpal who they are or what house they are in. Now, I hope you all understand this, for I will bid you goodnight." With that, she turned on her heel and left.
There was silence for a few moments, then people started talking at once.
"She's gone bonkers," Ron said from the couch, his arm draped around Hermione's shoulders.
They'd hooked up after the battle, willing to try a relationship. So far, nothing had changed from being friends, except kissing. Big whoop. It wasn't even that good. No rush like there'd been during the battle.
Hermione stared at the fire. Pen pals. How long had it been since she'd had a pen pal? Written a letter and waited anxiously for the reply? She still had all of Fluffy Bunny's letters in her fake book upstairs. She read them whenever she felt down or missed him, which had been a lot during their hunt for the horcruxes. Many times, she'd itched to write him a letter, telling of her adventures and what her new world was like. But, each time, she'd stopped herself, knowing he couldn't know of this world. Then she'd curl up under the covers and read her letters again. She missed having a pen pal. Now, she could do it again.
"Hermione!" Harry yelled.
She jumped and looked up at him. "What?" she asked.
"I've been trying to get your attention for the past three minutes," he said. "What were you thinking about?"
Hermione shook her head. She'd never told Harry and Ron about Fluffy Bunny. They would have thought she was stupid for caring so much for a pen pal that she hadn't even talked to in seven years. "Sorry," she said. "Just thinking about what I'm going to write."
Ron snorted. "This is a dumb idea," he said. "Writing to someone in another house? How is that going to promote inner house cooperation? You don't even know what house they're in."
"It'll work," Hermione said. "I have faith in McGonagall's idea...tough I'm not sure how she came up with it."
"Probably got bored," Harry said.
Ginny giggled from where she was curled into Harry's side. "What is your pen name going to be?" she asked. "I'm thinking I should go for something like 'Hot Red'."
"That sounds like a car," Ron said. He'd recently become addicted to muggle car magazines. There was a huge pile of magazines covering the floor of his room back at the Burrow.
"I like it," Harry said.
"Harry, your name should be 'Fabulous Kisser'," Ginny said.
Hermione laughed. "Wouldn't it be awkward if he got a guy, though, and that guy started to flirt with him?" she said.
Harry flinched a bit, then shook his head. "Really bad image, Mione. Thanks."
Hermione smiled. "Anytime, Harry," she said.
"What's your name going to be?" Ron asked, looking down at her.
She shrugged. "I think I'll go with my old pen name of Bushy Cat," she said.
"What do you mean 'old pen name'? And why 'Bushy Cat'? Your hair's nice and sleek, now," Ron said, running his fingers through it.
Hermione paused for a moment, cursing herself for the slip up. Well, now was as good a time as ever to tell them. "When I was ten, I answered an add in a magazine for a pen pal. The boy had been bored and gone by the name 'Fluffy Bunny', so I'd chosen a weird name, as well. Bushy Cat was all I could think of," she said.
"What happened?" Ginny asked.
Hermione sighed. "I got my letter to Hogwarts and had to stop. There was no way to explain this world to him and I couldn't keep it from him. So I told him I couldn't write to him anymore." She smiled sadly, remembering the letter. She shook her head, clearing the sad memory, and smiled brighter. "Now I can have a pen pal again."
Ginny smiled. "I wonder who we'll get," she said.
The rest of the evening was spent guessing who they'd get, a game that brought the rest of the common room to their group. After a few hours, Hermione went up to her room and began her letter.
This is a weird assignment, I think. But it works. I mean, just write a letter and avoid detention. Well, I guess I better ask some questions. Since I can't ask who you are, or what house you are, I'll just ask simple questions. What is your favorite subject? Which subject do you hate the most? What do you look like? Are you excited for the new school year? Can you sing? Do you like strawberry short cake with whipped cream? Just wanted to throw a weird question in there.
So, you don't have to answer the questions, but it's a start, right?
Now, I'm going to sign my pen name. It's one that I chose out of boredom, so deal with it.
It's Bushy Cat. Bye, now. Oh, I'm a girl, by the way.
Hermione dried the ink and folded it. She called for one of the school owls, a trick she'd learned a few weeks into her first year. A large grey barn owl stopped by her window and she tied the letter onto it's leg. With a hoot, it took off. Hermione watched it for a moment before going into the bathroom for a shower.
Blaise Zabini stared at the letter. Who was this Bushy Cat? Such a random person to ask if he liked strawberry short cake. Who would ask that? He had to agree with them, though. This was an easy assignment.
"Got your first letter already?"
Blaise looked up and smiled as Draco sat down on one of the leather couches. He wore a green t-shirt, black jeans, and a pair of black combat boots. Draco had taken to rebelling against his parents after the war by wearing muggle clothing. Blaise figured it was his way of punishing his parents for being so narrow minded about muggle-borns, a revelation Draco had had during his third year.
"Yeah," Blaise said. "She's so weird."
"Oh? You already know it's a she?" Draco asked, scratching his non gelled hair. "Wonderful detective work, Blaise."
Blaise chuckled, waving the paper. "She wrote that she was a girl," he said. "But she's really random. Just fired off a couple basic questions, then asked something completely off the wall."
Draco chuckled. "Sounds like you got a crazy one," he said. "But not as crazy as mine. She calls herself 'Stars' and she's definitely out there. Sent me a copy of the Quibbler. Definitely Luna Lovegood."
Blaise laughed. "Well, looks like McGonagall's plan for us not to find out who our pen pals are didn't work so well for you." He looked down at him and folded it up. "I don't know a damn thing about mine, though. She only signed it 'Bushy Cat'." Blaise looked up at his friend. Was it his imagination or did Draco just tense a bit?
Draco yawned and stretched his arms over his head. "I'm gonna head to bed," he said and left the common room.
Odd. It was the only thing Blaise could categorize is friend as being at that moment.
Ha! You probably thought this was going to be like the other letter stories, where Hermione and Draco become assigned pen pals, right? Well, I thought of that and decided that I didn't want to do that. That's right. Full of twists, am I. Hope you enjoyed the chapter.