For everyone who thinks that Ginny's first year was anything but the thing nightmares are made of...

The room around me suddenly came into focus. My eyes darted from the puddles on the floor to the terrifying statue of a giant head behind me. There was a gooey red substance on my robes—It's paint, it's paint, it's paint, I chanted silently to myself, as I always did when I "woke up" from one of my trances. It's only paint.

A little shaky, I stood up and grabbed a hold of the wall to balance myself. "Hello?" I squeaked out to the large, empty chamber. Suddenly, my head began to spin. That's what it was—a chamber. The Chamber. The Chamber of Secrets. "Oh, God," I croaked softly, and brought my hand from the wall as though it would bite me. I dashed into the middle of the room, trying to escape the sudden claustrophobia that had overtaken me, even though the Chamber was huge.

It's not me, it's not me, it's not me, I whispered to myself. I'm not the heir. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not. I looked down at the diary in my arms. Harmless, it seemed, just sitting there. I knew that I could not possibly be the heir. I was in Gryffindor! Surely, Slytherin's own heir would be in his house? Ginny, you aren't the Heir of Slytherin, I reassured myself, using the very words that Tom had been for the past few months. They had become my only consolation. You couldn't possibly do those horrible things to people.

I sank to my knees, opening the diary hastily. "Tom?" I whispered. Funny—should anyone have walked in, they would have thought me mad. But Tom had managed to grow stronger during our time together. I did not need write him anymore.

Yes, Ginny?

"Oh, thank God, Tom. I need your help. I'm so scared."

What's wrong, Gin? Are you all right? Do you want to talk about it? Is there anything I can do?

The words came instantly; worried, caring. It seemed too little people spoke to me like that anymore. Not Mum and Dad, none of my brothers, not Hermione, and certainly not Harry. "No, Tom, I'm really not all right." It was the first time I had admitted it to myself, much less anyone else. "I don't understand anything that's happening to me, and I know that...well—Tom, I'm in the Chamber of Secrets."

No! Ginny! Not you! It's not! You're too nice to be the heir—there is no way that you're the heir, do you understand me?

"I do, Tom," I whispered brokenly, "But you're wrong." Tom's end was silent, and I felt big, wet tears form in my eyes and watched them fall onto the page. Tom sucked them in eagerly, as though feeding off of them. You're wrong, Tom, my mind hissed. You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong. My tears kept coming, and Tom kept inhaling them, stopping only once for a brief word of comfort—

It's okay if you are the heir, Ginny. You'll still be my friend...it's not like you can help it, right?

But I knew he was just being nice, and it brought the tears faster and bigger. Huge, painful sobs racking my body as I released all of the tension inside of me. I'm insane, I sobbed, I'm insane, I'm insane, I'm insane.

"Help me, Tom," I hiccupped, so much raw emotion pouring out of my eyes and into the diary. "Please, just...make it stop. Make it stop."

"I can't do that, Ginny." My eyes snapped off of the diary and found a pair of cold blue ones. A young man was standing before me, a small smirk of horrid amusement on his mouth. There was a snake embroidered on his Hogwarts robes. Who was this boy? "I'm terribly sorry to disappoint you, but you are in it entirely too deep now. There is nothing that you can do to save yourself."

I wiped my tears and tried to be brave. "Who are you?" I asked, my voice wavering. "Get away from me! I—I'm the heir of Slytherin! I'll...I'll set loose the monster on you!" The boy laughed a cold, high-pitched laugh.

"No, no, Gin," he taunted, and my blood ran cold. "Don't flatter yourself. You, the heir of Slytherin? Hah. A silly, frivolous, pathetic girl like yourself? Come now, Ginny. Salazar Slytherin would never choose you. You're not even attractive."

I felt more tears come to my eyes. He'd hit me where it hurt. "Shut the hell up, Tom!" I shrieked, and then clapped a hand over my mouth. "...Tom?"

His sickeningly delighted expression dropped off of his face before I could even comprehend that he hadn't denied it. "Don't. Call. Me. That." He hissed. "I was no longer Tom Riddle the moment I graduated this blasted school! I am Lord Voldemort, girl, and you'd do well to remember it!"

No, I mouthed silently. No, no, no. "...You've been lying to me."

Tom appeared delighted that I had grasped it so quickly. "Yes!" He crowed. "Now, now Ginevra, don't cry. You'll be dead soon enough. I just wanted to let you know everything you've done for me—I should properly 'thank' you before you go to rot in hell for all of the wrongs you've committed."

I shook my head numbly. This isn't happening! It's a dream! It's a dream, it's a dream, it's a dream... "No, Ginevra, it's not a dream. You have, single-handedly, resurrected Lord Voldemort. How does it feel? To know that you've killed your family? For surely, I'll get them out of the way first. Then, perhaps, the Mudblood friend of yours...and there is one other, I believe...what is his name...ah! Harry Potter!"

There are no others, I thought desperately. No others, no others, no others. I opened my mouth to speak and only managed to croak, "No..." before I was cut off, gaping like a fish.

"Ah, yes," he said, noting my silence, "Seeing as I am absorbing your soul, you are being forced back into where I originally came from. The diary. After you're soul is in there, however, you're body will not last long. As a matter of fact, the instant your soul is locked inside, you will die. I do not know what will happen to your soul then—I have never died."

I don't believe you. I don't, I don't, I...

"Don't?"

I gaped at him. You can't hear me—these are my thoughts! Just mine! Mine, mine, mine!

He laughed then, another cold laugh that sent shivers up my spine as I cried. "On the contrary, Ginevra, your thoughts have been my own for several months now. But we are not here to talk of the mechanics of my brilliance! I am here to inform you of all you have accomplished! So shut up." I fought to move, but the scenery swam before my eyes and my concentration waned. Tom stooped down to eye level and held my chin in his hand. "You have to stay alive for a little while longer, Weasley," he spat, not at all friendly. "So that you can hear my story."

I found then the strength, as much as I wanted to die, just to spite him. I did not want to hear his arrogance. Don't touch me!

He sneered and cupped my cheek with his hand. "Ginny," he whispered into my ear, his breath hot on my skin, "You've killed them all. There is no hope. You will rot away in here before they even figure out how to get down here. And all because you are the unattractive, attention-seeking little sister of all the other Weasley's. Not even worthy of a name." He brushed my cheek with his lips and trailed down to my own. Just one, short kiss—one that hurt and disgusted me more than anything else possibly could have.

Stop! Stop, stop, stop! I won't listen!

"You will," Tom demanded, and I found my ears pricking. "I am the greatest wizard known to humankind! So I suppose this is thank-you, Ginny, for being a stupid little prat. And Harry Potter will never, ever love you now. You have killed him." He seemed to pause. "Shall I let you live long enough to see him die?"

No, I begged. No, no, no. Please, Tom—no.

"Fine, fine," he sighed, dejected. "Consider it a dying favor. It's been fun, She-Weasel. But I am expecting your...hero...any moment, and he really must be killed. Goodbye."

My vision blurred, from tears or death I do not know, and I felt myself ripped from my own eyes. I was slammed into the diary and felt the pages consume me.

Why me? I thought. Tom laughed.

"Yes, Ginny—write away. Now the world will know what you are thinking."

I hate you.

"Good," he said simply. "I'm glad." And he seemed it.

Mum—Dad—I'm so sorry...I love you, I never meant for any of this to happen...it was all an accident—I love you! George, Fred, Charlie, Bill, Percy...I love you all, too!

"Just those four?" Tom asked, amused. I realized with horror that I had forgotten Ron.

I forgive you, Ron, for forgetting. For outgrowing your tagalong sister'. I just hope that you can forgive me. I love you. You're my favorite older brother—my best friend. Thanks for being there for me. I love you! I really do!

But the words were fading. Fading as fast as I could think them, and no one would ever know their contents. I tried to keep them there, tried to force them to stay...and the only person who I could think of to save me was the very person I wanted to keep out of Tom's reach.

Harry. This is all my fault. Don't come save me, Harry. I deserve this death. I'm not overly concerned about dying—just keep yourself alive. You've our only hope, I think. It has to be you. Don't let Tom win. He can't win, Harry—because he's just a mirage.

Do you hear me, Tom? You're nothing! Nothing! Nothing!

Tom laughed, utterly unconcerned. "You're the one in the diary," he said nonchalantly, and there was a haunted echo of footsteps on the floor that I could hear, although I had no ears. I saw his face as he bent over my body, although my eyes were gone. I felt his touch, despite the fact that I had no hands...

Win for me, Harry, I wrote silently, knowing he could not see the words. Win for us. I'm sorry you have to clean up the mess I made.

The next few hours of my life were worse than I could have ever expected them to be. But he fought—and then he was falling on his knees, dying, and I was sobbing in my thoughts, wetness spilling out onto the page—and then I knew the only way to defeat Tom. The only way to kill him...and it would, in all likelihood, kill me, too.

Do it, Harry, I urged soundlessly. Do it, do it, do it. I fluttered the pages of the diary so that he would be sure to see them.

He stabbed, and my world exploded. Pain like I had never known flowed through every page that I filled, every word I wrote slammed me in the face and made me bleed.

And then my eyes snapped open, and I was once again in my body. I drew a deep and shuddering breath as I realized that it was over, finally, all of it...

Over, I said in satisfaction to myself. Over, over, over.

And then I realized that I didn't need to talk to myself anymore. "Harry...it was me. I tried to tell you at breakfast, but I couldn't say it in front of Percy—it was me, Harry..." And it didn't matter that I looked like a crying, babbling idiot in front of him anymore. All that mattered was that I was alive, that the world had survived my stupidity, that Harry had survived my stupidity...

I haltingly opened the diary and bit my lip as words appeared.

Damnit, Ginevra, you'll be the first to go. Came the words as I felt Tom fading from the diary. And you can never forget what you did. What you almost did. Remember it always.

I looked at it with scorn and tossed it across the floor. Tom was gone, and although it felt as though the guilt would never lift, I had, maybe that one string of hope.

Tom was gone.

Gone, gone, gone.