The Secret Power of Eleven-Year-Old Girls

Valentina Charura, Blaise Zabini's mother, had a beautiful house in Switzerland; there were huge curving windows in the west wall, and Ginny watched the sun set over Lac LĂ©man while she and Valentina drank Pinot Noir.

Presently Valentina asked her what she'd come for, and Ginny explained.

"Yes," Valentina said thoughtfully. "It's a curious situation, but you surely have a claim... and there are many things you aren't telling me, aren't there, my dear?" she added, and gave a wry smile as Ginny started. "Yes, I am a... er, what's the English? I read minds. A Legilimens? Very well. It's necessary, you know; because there are those who claim they have suffered when they have not; there are those that exaggerate suffering; and there are those who have suffered and do not mention it, and the last one is you."

Ginny, understandably, had trouble coming up with a response to this.

"It's difficult," Valentina said, suddenly stern. "I won't lie to you. If you don't have the natural ability, then it will take a lot of hard work and dedication. This is a place for strong women. We don't let just anyone in."

Ginny nodded, her eyes violent, and said "Then I'll do the hard work and dedication."

"I thought you would. Who sent you here? Narcissa Malfoy? Mmm, well, I can always trust Cissy. You will do. But there's only one way to find out," she said, rising briskly to her feet. "So, if you don't mind, Ginevra, we'll get cracking."

"I don't mind at all," said Ginny, and she drained the last of her Pinot and followed Valentina down to the cellars.

Next autumn

Ginny was glowing, hugging herself; hugging the object hidden under her coat, though it was too small to be externally visible. Valentina, watching her from an upstairs window, could tell anyway; only success could be making the girl smile like that. Ginny was wearing a brown coat and a reddish woolly scarf, and Valentina decided the season suited her.

In the kingdom of heaven, the season is always autumn. Let's have a look at her harvest.

"Tina!" called Ginny, running up the stairs, waving the diary aloft. "Look what I've got! Look who's your clever girl!"

"I saw you coming," said Valentina, turning and grinning, the reflections on her cheekbones sliding like mercury. "And I heard it already on the wireless; Europe is full of this news. A celebration soon, I think, for the clever girl."

Ginny's smile acquired a cacodemonic quality. "Not just yet."

"No," agreed Valentina. "Not the public one. Just yet."

The two of them climbed the spiral staircase to the tower room, and Valentina whispered to the door to open; Ginny hopped to her armchair, eager but nervous, and drew the book out from under her coat with sweating hands.

The two of them sat and studied it. A small, black, battered book, faintly pathetic; and on the cover, 1942.

Valentina silently passed Ginny the linocutter's scalpel she had bought for this occasion, and Ginny opened the diary and began to write.

Valentina could not make out the words, nor would she have wanted to intrude on something so personal if she could; however, it was easy to see the blood that ran down the pages.

Ginny grinned at Valentina, her face suddenly alive with glee; and Valentina's slow smile was full of pride. "You did well," she said. "More than well. You want to carry on? Or bed..."

"Bed," agreed Ginny; and soon they were running up the stairs to the bedroom, leaving the diary on the windowsill with Valentina's husbands.

The diary feebly ruffled its pages for a while, but eventually lay still in its blood in the last rays of the sun.