Hey, y'all! I know I said that I was going to be editing this and reposting it over a year ago, but shit happens. I am finally getting around to editing it and changing a lot from the original version (especially since it was written when I was much younger than I am now), but the general plot is going to remain the same, with editing, clarification, and slight reworks. I'm going to try to post an edited chapter every week since the story is already written and just needs polishing and cleaning up, but no promises! Also, in the original version, I often switched between POVs. Is that something you wish I would keep with this story, or keep it in mostly one POV? Let me know!

I was already awake when my alarm went off at four in the afternoon on February 14th. I reached out blindly to shut off the blaring noise and flipped my covers off to get ready. I had been awake for at least thirty minutes before my alarm had gone off, which meant that I was ready to get the day started.

Valentine's day was my favorite day of the year simply because of an annual contest that St. Vladimir's had every year. It was going to be even more exciting this year because of Dimitri, even though guardians weren't technically allowed to participate with students due to the authority difference. Some participated among each other, just for the hell of it, and I was hoping that Dimitri would be included in that lot this year.

A knock sounded on my door and I pulled it open to usher Lissa in. She wasn't surprised to find me awake already, since she was used to it at this point, knowing that this was one of the best days to look forward to. We both knew that it would be different without Mason to play off of and joke around with, but I knew that I had to honor his memory (since he loved the contest almost as much as I did).

Lissa perched on my bed as I flipped the light on.

"What are you wearing this year?"

Lissa always wore something similar to the year previous, and this year was no exception. She wore a black suede skirt that ended an inch or two above her knees and paired it with a light green blouse that emphasized her eyes. I was surprised to see that it was low-cut, showing off more of her pale skin than she normally did.

She saw me looking and shrugged. "I'm upping the game this year. Plus, Christian likes this shirt."

I rolled my eyes. "Of course, he does."

I walked to my closet and began sifting through the clothes. My fingers brushed the black dress from the dance the night that the lust charm nearly made me give away my virginity. I pushed past it, ignoring the burning heat of my cheeks. I stayed buried in my closest long enough for the heat to fade, not needing Lissa asking any questions that I wouldn't be able to answer. This was the longest time that I've kept a secret from her and as much as I wanted to tell her, I was afraid she wouldn't understand.

I eventually pulled out a black skater skirt and a deep red zip-up crop top. The straps were a few inches wide to help support my chest, as I didn't normally wear a bra with the top. The zipper was outlined in black, matching my skirt. I slipped into my bathroom to change and when I came out, Lissa glanced at me over, whistling.

"I see you're upping the game too," she said. "Trying to impress someone?"

I laughed, shrugging off her comment. "Just trying to win."

I grabbed a pair of black combat boots out of my closet, needing something comfortable and that I could run in if needed. Lissa wore a pair of beige kitten heels, which was her classic, go-to heel when she was dressing up.

"Sit," she said, pulling a small makeup kit out of her bag.

I rarely kept makeup in my room so Lissa always brought one for me, instead of guessing to see whether or not I'd have some old palettes or tubes in my bathroom. Lissa laid out her powder and brushes on my bed and quickly got to work applying a light layer of makeup. Since I didn't wear it often, I didn't like to cake it on when I did wear it. Lissa stuck to mascara, neutral eyeshadow, and a light layer of powder foundations. I occasionally would add a lip gloss or lipstick, and today, Lissa used her lipstick that we dubbed as "power red".

"Ready?" she said.


When we arrived in the gym, most of the people taking part in the game were already there. The Moroi and the dhampirs were separated, with the dhampirs at the top of the bleachers, while the Moroi filled the bottom rows. I took a seat next to Eddie and waited for Alberta to start her annual speech.

"Welcome, Moroi and dhampirs. As you know, today is Valentine's Day and time for our annual competition."

Cheers broke out around the gym, mostly from the dhampir section.

Alberta smiled slightly. "Many of you are familiar with the rules of this game, but as always, we are going to go over them again. Everybody playing the game will wear a red paper heart." She paused to hold up the example necklace. "If someone does not have a heart on, they've either already cracked and given away their heart, or they aren't playing this year. As always, the rules for keeping your heart is simple: don't give it away. Do not maim or otherwise physically hurt each other. Money cannot be exchanged for hearts. Neither is the exchange of sex. Guardians will be walking around, keeping an eye on students. As always, you must stay in public, common areas. Those with the most hearts at the end will be crowned the champion and will win special privileges for the weekend."

People started to stand as Alberta's speech came to an end. It didn't escape her notice and she wrapped up and motioned people forward to get their hearts. Since I was near the topic of the bleachers, I had a good vantage point for watching people pick up their hearts and so there was no way that I could've missed Dimitri walking over and grabbing a heart for himself. While it was well-known that guardians occasionally played among themselves as a small distraction and for shits and giggles, Dimitri was the last person I'd expect to play.

I grinned. Let the games begin.

In an effort to keep the chapters the same, I'll be roughly posting them individually as they were, but since some of the chapters at the beginning were short, I might combine a couple of chapters here and there. The chapters that are posted will all be expanded and edited beyond the original that they are all going to be longer than they originally were.