Disclaimer – I own nothing of the HP books or whatever associated, blada blada blada, you know the drill…
Creatress: My … second … TMRGW … haven't posted the first one yet…
Tom: For one of the lamest reasons, too…
Creatress: Was not lame. You, the reader, wouldn't have liked it.
Tom: Er, right. She typed out a 20-pg long first chapter, then isn't posting it because she promised a preview of the second chapter at the end, but ran straight into a writers' block.
Gin: I would've been pissed…
Tom: Oh, no, you wouldn't, I remember it's something traumatic happening to you.
Gin: Well… As long as you're the cause…
They start making out.
Creatress: Awww… But, seriously, save something for the actual fic… Guys! (gets uncomfortable and leaves)
Hermione Granger groaned a little and slowly opened her eyes. When they were more than mere slits, she snapped them shut again. The whiteness of the hospital wing and the amount of sunlight pouring in through an open window to her left were much brighter than what she had been seeing for the past several weeks.
"Hermione?" a tentative voice asked, from somewhere to her right.
"Ginny?!" Hermione's eyes snapped open and she whipped around to see the young redhead lying on a bed beside her own.
"I'm sorry," Ginny whispered, her voice breaking. Her eyes were watering. She blinked, and her tears fell down the side of her face and onto her pillows. "I'm so sorry…"
"It's alright," Hermione said, quietly, quickly glancing around for signs of Madam Pomfrey. With a bit of effort, she got up and wrapped her arms around her friend, who hugged her back, still spurting apologies. "It wasn't your fault. Shh, someone might hear you. It's alright now."
Ginny quieted down, but kept sobbing and Hermione held her as she cried into her shoulder. Only the previous night, Ginny had been rescued from the Chamber of Secrets, and Hermione had woken up only hours later to find out what had happened.
"He hated you," Ginny suddenly choked out.
"He hated you. He hated whenever I spoke to you, because he couldn't convince me that muggles were bad because you were around … and … your parents, and… and…"
"Okay… Okay," Hermione whispered, not knowing how to respond.
"And… and you were the only other person I talked to…" Ginny's voice trailed off and she started sobbing again. "Gods, I almost got you killed…"
"No, you didn't. You didn't."
Ginny sobbed, shaking all over. "I've done something horrible…"
"No, you haven't - "
"Yes... I have, I've done something terrible, and I'm so scared," Ginny gasped.
"You shouldn't be. Riddle's gone now – his diary was destroyed – " Hermione stopped when Ginny shook her head. "… Gin?"
"I did something else. Besides hurting you - "
"Gin, don't say that," Hermione interrupted, her voice firm. She pulled Ginny out of her hug and held her shoulders. "It wasn't you. It wasn't your fault. It was Voldemort - " Ginny gasped, and Hermione almost looked at her admonishingly. "It was not you," she said, instead. "Do you understand that?"
Staring at the floor, Ginny nodded.
"Now…" Hermione said, her voice growing gentle. "Was there something else?"
Ginny stared at the floor and gulped. Then, she nodded. "Mi, I'm scared… You'll never guess what I did. And it wasn't even him that time – I did it myself. He's the only one who knew…" She started crying again. "How could I have…?!" She buried her face in her hands.
Hermione, who was still holding Ginny's shoulders, grew a little scared. "Gin… What happened?"
Ginny looked up at her. "Promise me you won't tell anybody," she whispered, holding out her hand.
Hermione barely hesitated, before placing her hand in her friend's. Such a muggle way of sealing a promise, she mused. "I promise," she said.
"And you swear… You won't… React badly?" Ginny finished, weakly.
Hermione stared at her, so worried she was hardly breathing. But she couldn't say no to the desperate pleading in Ginny's eyes. "Yes," she said. "I promise."
Taking a deep breath, Ginny started her story. Something that happened only a short month ago… Something before the attacks, before she suspected Riddle of being dangerous… When she got to the part with the most … evil … the most sinful part, Ginny broke down crying again. She couldn't continue, but she didn't need to…
Hermione's eyes grew wide, but other than that, she didn't react. How could she? She just promised she wouldn't react badly, and how could one react positively… Hermione was now staring at the floor. She briefly wondered if the tile she was looking at was the same one Ginny had focused on five minutes ago.
"Mi…" Ginny whispered. "Mi, please say something…"
Hermione suddenly noticed that Ginny was clutching her hands as if she was holding on for dear life. "Obliviate…" she whispered, barely audibly.
"What?" Ginny whispered.
"Let me obliviate you," Hermione said, turning back to Ginny to look her in the eyes. "You can forget it. Move on with life. Nobody ever has to know…" Her voice trailed off when Ginny shook her head.
"He knows," Ginny whispered.
"He's dead," Hermione replied, readily. "Nobody else knows. Nobody else has to find out. I can deal with this myself. My parents would help me if I need it. You… Gin, please, let me obliviate you. Nobody else could ever find out…"
Ginny shook her head again. Something in the redhead's eyes made Hermione freeze with fear. "Gin," she whispered, her voice begging.
"Mi, I… " Ginny couldn't continue. She looked up at Hermione, trying to convey the message with her eyes.
Hermione seemed to have understood, but was trying to deny it. "Gin…" she whispered, pleadingly, now squeezing her friend's hands back. "This last month … Did you…?" Ginny looked up at her then, and the answer was clear in her eyes. The world seemed to freeze and shatter for a moment, as she grew dizzy with panic.
Hermione brought up her right hand to hold her head, her left one still wrapped around Ginny's.
"Mi… What am I going to do?" Ginny asked. Her voice was panicked, tortured.
Hermione was trying to think of spells, potions, something muggle, that could help in this situation, but her mind came up blank. Only one question came to mind… She suddenly found herself wondering how Riddle reacted to this… Hermione inwardly shook the question off. What was the point?! Riddle was only a damn memory. A damn memory, who was dead now… A damn memory who managed to do a lot of damage, she reasoned with herself. How? Can a memory do that? Take someone over and make them kill?
Hermione gulped. It doesn't matter… Riddle was gone now. Harry said so himself, after a meeting with Dumbledore. Riddle was gone. She turned to Ginny, not liking what she was about to do.
"You have to tell someone," she whispered.
"No!" Ginny quickly retorted.
"What else can you do? Wait until something happens?" Hermione asked, her own eyes watering at her friend's predicament. She shook her head. "It's too dangerous. Something could happen to you…"
Ginny started crying again. Hermione quickly blinked and wiped away her own tears before reaching out to touch Ginny's shoulder. "Madam Pomfrey – she'll keep it quiet." Ginny started shaking her head again. "Gin, see reason! What if she already knows?!"
Ginny shook her head. "No, she hasn't said anything. She doesn't know… How could she?"
Something occurred to Hermione. "Gin… let me see your arm," she said, looking around to make sure that they were alone.
Ginny shook her head. "The Dark Mark? No…" She laughed, dryly. "Gods, by now, I would wish that were it… I probably deserve one for this…" Hermione shook her head to show that she disagreed, and Ginny looked up at her, eyes begging. "Please, Mi, there must be something…"
"Okay," Hermione breathed. She held her head with both hands and tried to think. "It's only been a month… Maybe what you've been experiencing this past month was purely psychological." She ignored Ginny's questioning look – by now, she seemed to be talking to herself. "Maybe you thought something was wrong, and convinced yourself…" Her voice trailed off and she shook her head. "Alright. Alright," she breathed and looked up at Ginny. "Here's what we'll do. We'll give it a month's time, and during that time, we'll wait to see if anything proves something's wrong. While we wait, I'll do some research and see if there's a way… to… to… deal with this."
"Thank you," Ginny breathed, cupping Hermione's hand in both of hers.
Hermione nodded and pulled Ginny into a hug with her other arm.
On August 2nd, Hermione showed up on the Weasleys' front doorstep, coat over her arm, suitcases around her, and a white tote bag slung on her shoulder, ready for her one week stay. In her tote bag, was another smaller, purple bag, which was carefully tucked away under the other stuff in the tote bag. In the purple bag was a vial, no bigger than an average medicine bottle, full of a black liquid.
Ginny opened the door and an unspoken question was answered by a silent response before Mrs. Weasley appeared behind her daughter and greetings were exchanged.
When the two girls were safely locked in Ginny's room, the first thing Ginny did was shake her head.
Hermione tried to offer a comforting smile. "It'll be okay," she said. "I've made something…" She reached into her tote bag, and dug around for the purple bag. She pulled the potion out of it, carefully and handed it to Ginny, who also took it gingerly.
The redhead looked at her friend with a deep and sincere gratitude. "Thank you," she whispered. "You've just saved my life…"
"Yes, if you take this properly and on time, your life is saved…" Hermione said, trying to make her tone light and joking. But a small voice inside of her asked, At what price, Gin?
Six years later…
There was another earth-shattering crash and more students ran screaming. The teachers were rushing around, trying to collect their students and get them safely back into their common rooms. Aurors, who had been stationed all around the school, were running toward the south-eastern corner where the first noises had come from. Spells, hexes, counter hexes, curses, counter curses were flying everything. It was chaotic. Hogwarts was under attack.
In the turmoil, Ginny saw Harry, who had graduated the previous year but come back as an auror as part of security, running toward the southeastern corner and started rushing in the same direction.
"Harry!" she called.
Harry stopped and whipped around. "Gin, no! Go back!" he yelled.
"No!" she shot back.
Harry shook his head, silently begging her to leave, and knowing that he should try to get to the battle as soon as possible, turned back around. Ginny didn't honour Harry's silent request and kept following.
The crashes seemed to be spreading. The two heard several behind them, but ran ahead, knowing that Tonks, Shacklebolt, and the others would take care of it. Dumbledore and Snape had run to the southeastern corner, and had not come back because that was where Voldemort was, and therefore, that was where the most danger was. Knowing this, Ginny's stomach lurched and she felt a little sick.
Nearing the place of the first crashes, they heard voices. Dumbledore was yelling.
"… power, Tom, when will you understand that?!"
Harry and Ginny were just at the door.
"I understand it well, so unlike you."
Ginny stopped dead. That voice…
"And this misconception, I'm not quite so saddened to say, probably won't clear up for you before the day you die, will it, Dumbledore?"
"You bastard!" Harry suddenly yelled, bursting outside into the clear night.
"Potter/Harry!" She heard Snape and Dumbledore yell at once.
And then a crash. Ginny gasped, wondering what had happened.
"Potter, it's been too long…" Tom – no, Voldemort's voice was mocking.
This made Ginny move again. She burst through the doors and almost ran into Harry, who, though he was shaking, was still standing and looked alright. Dumbledore and Snape glanced at her for a second, before turning back to Voldemort, not wanting let him out of their sights.
"Just what I wanted…" Voldemort's voice turned Ginny's attention from Harry to himself.
Ginny looked at him and her breath caught. There was a sudden pain, sorrow and grief that washed over her as the events of her first year came rushing back to her. Also, a knot of fear was pounding in her chest and she stepped back a little. The only unmasked man, who was front and center among the masked Death Eaters, was none other than Tom Riddle. He looked like his was in his mid to late twenties, but she easily recognized the older form of the sixteen-year-old she had once loved. What sent her heart pounding was that his cold blue eyes were fixed on her.
Voldemort smirked. "Princess," he said, acknowledging her with a nod.
Ginny's heart raced and she almost didn't notice Harry glance at her, questioningly. Tom called her Princess… If Voldemort knew about the nickname, would he know about…?
"What do you want, Tom?" Dumbledore suddenly asked, sounding tired and old.
"Something of mine," Voldemort replied, calmly.
"What?" Dumbledore asked.
Voldemort smirked. "If I tell you, you would just let me have it?"
"If it will save the lives of the students," Dumbledore replied, readily.
Voldemort smiled, wryly and some of the Death Eaters behind him chuckled. "In that case, Dumbledore… She's about two feet away from you."
Dumbledore almost didn't understand what he was talking about, but turned to Ginny, who paled. She slowly shook her head, and took a few clumsy steps back.
"Right, then, three feet," Voldemort said, sarcastically. He eyed her for a second before turning back to Dumbledore. "Hand her over."
Dumbledore turned back to Voldemort. "No," he said, flatly.
"I'm afraid you have no choice," Voldemort said, calmly.
"I think I do," Dumbledore replied. "About a foot in front of you, there's a Kardrik Wall that runs all around this school. You will not be able to get in or get anything out that isn't rightfully yours."
Voldemort didn't seem fazed by this new information. "Hm," he said, sarcastically. "Obviously, you hadn't been listening when I told you that I came here to get something of mine. Accio."
Ginny's screamed. Her feet were suddenly off the ground and she whipped through the air, past Harry and Snape, who looked startled, and past a panicked Dumbledore and right into Voldemort's arms.
"Ginny!" Harry yelled. He raised his wand but a "No, Harry!" from Dumbledore stopped him.
"But - " Harry started.
"You may hit her, you idiot, put it down!" Snape snapped.
Harry scowled, but lowered his wand a little.
Ginny was struggling, whimpering and trying not to scream, as she tried to get free of Voldemort's grip.
"Stop that, Princess, don't make me hurt you," Voldemort suddenly said.
Her eyes watering, Ginny reluctantly stopped struggling. "Please…" She whispered. "Please don't, please…" She didn't know exactly what she was pleading for, but what else could she do…
"Let her go, Tom," Dumbledore suddenly said, a warning in his voice.
"And why would I do that?" Voldemort asked.
"She's a human being – there is no possible way she could belong to you," Dumbledore said.
"Really… the Kardrik Wall seems to disagree."
Dumbledore eyed them, stricken, not knowing why this was happening and not knowing what he could do… As soon as an insider's spell crossed over the Kardrik Shield, it would be down and the student body's life would be at risk, but he couldn't just leave Ginny… Time, he needed time. "How?" he asked, trying to sound calm.
Voldemort raised an eye-brow. He turned to Ginny, who was still in his arms, looking up at him with a pleading expression. "You haven't told him, Princess? Funny, I would have thought you would have run crying to him immediately after you last saw me…"
Ginny shook her head, and a tear fell.
Voldemort studied her for a second, and Ginny suddenly felt him in her mind. Panic rising, she tried to close her mind off, but was unsuccessful. "Ah…" Voldemort said. "You told the mudblood… Well, no matter. Here's your chance. Tell him."
Ginny looked up at him, eyes begging. "Please…" she whimpered. "My lord, please, please don't make me…"
"Now, Ginevra," Voldemort hissed. He lowered his voice so that only she could hear. When he spoke, his breath brushed against her ear. "You will spend the next few days alone with me. Do you want me to be displeased with you?" Ginny cried harder, and, knowing that the threat was well delivered, Voldemort raised his voice again. "Tell him."
Ginny turned to face Dumbledore, who was looking back at her, kindly, concernedly. She sent him a silent message of apology with her eyes. She took a deep breath.
End of Chapter 1
Creatress: DUN DUN DUN!!
Tom: Surprise, surprise…
Creatress: Yeah, you all probably guessed it, right, readers?
Gin: Gods, it was so in your face… You would do horribly as a mystery writer…
Creatress: No, no, things are still missing. They'll come up in the next chapter.
Gin: I bet they will.
Creatress: (shrugs and grins) I personally liked that chapter, and I know you two did, too, so ha.
Tom: I want to see the geezer's reaction.
Creatress: I know, I'm just itching to type it out… So, we'll stop talking after this final message: REVIEW!! REVIEW NOW, OR I'LL STICK VOLDERZ ON YOU!!