She awoke.

She was extremely dizzy and her head hurt very badly. She opened her eyes and saw she was lying on her back, staring up at a magnificent stone ceiling. She was covered in layers of uncomfortable damp cloth and resting on a hard stone floor, freezing and scared. Her eyes were filled with tears. The first question she asked herself was Where am I? followed shortly by Who am I? and Why am I here?

Feeling stretched down her arms and legs, eventually filling up her whole body. She loved the way her body felt, particularly her heart — she loved its rhythm. She was hungry and tired — so tired. Her eyelids were heavy and her instincts were telling her to curl up into a tiny ball and go to sleep. She wanted to sleep for a very long time — like maybe three years or so.

A moan escaped her lips as she sat up to look around her. Then she heard quick footsteps — someone was running towards her — another human. She recognized him instantly — he was Harry Potter. Everything came rushing back to her so fast she couldn't take it all in at once. She was Ginny Weasley and she was in the Chamber of Secrets! She liked the name "Ginny" and was glad it was hers. She said it to herself over and over again in her head. Ginny, Ginny, Ginny, Ginny. It sounded so nice.

When Ginny remembered that just before she had fallen unconscious she had been certain she would die, something wonderful hit her — she was alive! She had never felt so happy to hear her heart beating and, for two or three glorious seconds, she was content with simply being alive.

There was a feeling in the air that a great battle had just taken place and Slytherin's monster, a giant snake as she had suspected, was lying dead on the stone floor. Harry was covered in muck as she was, but also blood, though, to her relief, it didn't seem to be his blood. He was holding the Sorting Hat, a sword, and…

Tom Riddle's diary! A hole had been punctured in the diary, leaking ink all over the floor — it had been destroyed.

It took Ginny a very long second to take all this in. She remembered everything — how she had ended up down there and how it was all her fault — and gasped. Her guilty feelings came rushing into her as tears came rushing down her cheeks. She felt broken — like she was a beautiful porcelain vase which had fallen to the floor and shattered into a thousand pieces.

"Harry," she said without even thinking. "Oh, Harry — I tried to tell you at b-breakfast, but I c-couldn't say it in front of Percy — it was me, Harry — but I — I s-swear I d-didn't mean to — R-Riddle made me, he t-took me over — and — how did you kill that — that thing? W-where's Riddle? The last thing I r-remember is him coming out of the diary —"

"It's all right," he assured her, "Riddle's finished. Look! Him and the basilisk. C'mon, Ginny, let's get out of here —" Ginny wanted to throw her arms around Harry and cry into him, but she couldn't move.

"I'm going to be expelled!" she wept as she felt hands — Harry's hands — help her to her feet. "I've looked forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since B-Bill came and n-now I'll have to leave — w-what'll Mum and Dad say?"

When his hands left her, Ginny felt so wobbly that she was rather afraid she would fall backwards onto the stone floor and split her head open. It would be so terrible if she died right after her life had just been saved. She wasn't sure she could walk or even stand on her own — her legs didn't seem to be stable anymore and they didn't want to trudge along on their own. She wished Harry would carry her out of the Chamber like the hero of a romantic novel, but she wasn't about to ask him to do that, especially since he had clearly suffered enough in fighting that snake creature.

Ginny was momentarily preoccupied by a strange scarlet bird — she was fairly certain it was a phoenix — hovering near the entrance. If Harry hadn't brought her back to reality by urging her forward, she might have remained standing there staring at it for hours. As they left the Chamber of Secrets, the wall with the snakes shut behind them with a soft hissing sound.

It was closed — forever.

Ginny couldn't believe Harry had risked his life to save her! And he didn't seem to be hating her even though he knew what she had done. Maybe everything was going to be all right after all, but she didn't want to get her hopes up too much. But she did know now that she really loved Harry — loved him as much as anyone in her family and she couldn't love anyone more than that. He truly was a hero. She wanted to take him home with her so she could nurse him back to health and feed him chicken soup.

"Ron!" Harry yelled suddenly. "Ginny's okay! I've got her!" Ginny was so lost in her thoughts she had nearly forgotten Harry was even there. She realized this was rather ironic considering how self-conscious she had been around him all year. It was actually a bit creepy too.

Just around the next bend, she saw Ron had made a path back through a pile of rocks in the tunnel. It had evidently collapsed, but Ginny was too preoccupied with her own thoughts to wonder why.

"Ginny!" said Ron, thrusting an arm through the sizable gap to pull her through. Would Ron be so pleased she was alive after he learned she was responsible for what had happened to Hermione?

"You're alive!" he said as she reached the other side. "I don't believe it! What happened?"

Ginny never thought much about it, but she loved Ron. She loved all her brothers so much, even Percy! And she really, really loved her parents too! She wanted them to understand what she had been through and how she felt, but she didn't think words which could describe her emotions existed.

"How — what — where did that bird come from?" Ron asked, referring to the bird Ginny suspected was a phoenix.

"He's Dumbledore's," Harry explained, squeezing through the gap on his own.

"How come you've got a sword?" asked Ron.

"I'll explain when we get out of here," said Harry with a sideways glance at Ginny. She felt a warm feeling rise up in her pounding heart — maybe Harry really understood how she felt! But she didn't let herself trust that feeling too much. The last time she trusted a feeling like that…

"But —"

"Later," said Harry shortly.

Ginny was relieved. At the moment, she didn't want to hear anything about what had happened. If she heard so much as the word "Riddle", it might have made her feel sick. How could she have ever liked him so much? Thinking of the things she used to say about him made her want to hide somewhere — preferably in Harry's arms.

"Where's Lockhart?" Harry asked Ron. This was probably the very last question Ginny might have expected to hear. Gilderoy Lockhart, with his gaudy clothes, flashy smile, and entourage of screaming fangirls, seemed to belong to a whole different universe than the one which now surrounded them.

"Back there," said Ron, who was still understandably confused. "He's in a bad way. Come and see."

Ginny noted how calm Ron was. Obviously, he didn't know what had really happened and thought everything was all over now that she had been rescued. But Harry did know and he seemed to be confident, so he must be certain that she wasn't going to get in trouble. Of course, there wasn't any way he could have known that, but his poise still gave Ginny some confidence.

They arrived at the mouth of the pipe which led up to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. There she saw Gilderoy Lockhart looking barely recognizable. His shiny robes were all grimy and dirty and his blond hair was unkempt. However, his behavior was even more off than his appearance.

"His memory's gone," Ron said quietly. "The Memory Charm backfired. Hit him instead of us. Hasn't got a clue who he is, or where he is, or who we are. I told him to wait here. He's a danger to himself."

Ginny suddenly felt guilty again. It was all her fault that Lockhart had lost his memory. Her mother and Hermione had liked him so much and now he was looking blankly up at them with the bliss of complete ignorance. Ginny had thought he was a git, of course, but it was already pretty well-established that she wasn't a very good judge of character.

"Hello," Lockhart pleasantly said to them. "Odd sort of place, this, isn't it? Do you live here?"

"No," said Ron as he raised his eyebrows in Harry's direction.

Not much later, they were outside Professor McGonagall's office. After Harry pushed the door ajar, there was silence as they just stood there. Ginny listened to her heart continue to beat rapidly until there was a scream which uttered her name.

It was her mother who had been crying by the fire, obviously believing she would never see her daughter again and certainly not alive. Both Ginny's parents seized her and held her very close. She had never felt so loved in her life! She wanted to tell her parents that she loved them too, that she was just as surprised and pleased she was alive as they were, and to say that she was really, really sorry, but she couldn't speak.

"You saved her! You saved her! How did you do it?" Ginny's mother said as she swept Harry and Ron into her arms as well.

"I think we'd all like to know that," another voice said. It was only then that Ginny noticed there were two other people in the office — Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall.

But were they there to see if she was all right or to punish her? By the way her parents were acting, it seemed the former was the case, but they might not fully understand what had happened yet. If they did decide to expel her, it would be terribly convenient to have both her parents and the school's heads present.

But Ginny almost didn't care if she was expelled. Obviously, she didn't want to be, but it didn't seem to matter quite so much. She had realized that her parents would love her no matter what — even if she had opened the Chamber of Secrets. Her parents had told her many times that they would love her always, but it had never meant so much to her before.

After being freed, Harry heisted before walking up to McGonagall's desk, laying the Sorting Hat, the sword, and Riddle's diary down on it. Harry then went on to explain how he, Ron, and Hermione had discovered the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. It turned out they had had quite an adventure fixing the mess Ginny had created. In fact, their story might have even made a great novel.

As he described how Hermione had learned the monster was a basilisk, Ginny turned to look seriously at him — or at least as serious as one could look with tears pouring down one's face. She felt that there was an understanding between them that, although she could tell he was carefully avoiding it, they would eventually have to explain her part in this. They couldn't postpone it forever, but she was staring to feel confident they could successfully argue her case — she just had to remain calm.

But she was calm. Even though her head was now resting on her mother's shoulder and she was still crying silently, she didn't feel that scared anymore. Maybe it was simply harder to feel afraid with her parents there and Harry calmly explaining how he and Ron had encountered a colony of giant spiders in the Forbidden Forest. Or maybe it was simply because she was now a world away from the dark underground chamber which she had believed would be her final resting place.

"That's when I put on the Sorting Hat," continued Harry, "and asked it for help. It gave me a sword, which I used to kill the basilisk. One the basilisk's venomous fang got stuck in my shoulder, but Fawkes cried on it — phoenix tears have healing powers — and saved my life. Then I took the fang and, er —" Harry stopped, having reached the point where he would have to explain all about her and the diary. He looked worried and his anxiousness was contagious. Ginny felt panic swell up in her as well, but she still felt certain that, together, they could handle this. She was ready.

However, instead of saying anything, Harry turned to Dumbledore. And just as everything was starting to make sense to her, Dumbledore said something which made no sense at all.

"What interests me most," he said, "is how Lord Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently in hiding in the forests of Albania."

This must have made sense to Harry because he looked very relieved, but Ginny's parents were clearly just as confused as she was. What did You-Know-Who have to do with all this?

"W-what's that?" asked Ginny's father. "You-Know-Who? En-enchant Ginny? But Ginny's not…Ginny hasn't been…has she?" Ginny was starting to feel awful again, but gained strength in knowing that her parents would always love her. No matter what she'd done.

"It was this diary," said Harry, handing the book to Dumbledore. "Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen…"

As Dumbledore took the diary, Ginny thought of how calm Harry seemed to be. Clearly he could have explained everything for her and it was tempting to just let him. But she couldn't do that. He shouldn't have to explain her part in this. That was something only she could do.

"Brilliant," Dumbledore said softly, staring down at the book. "Of course, he was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen." He then turned to the bewildered Weasleys and finally explained what he and Harry knew that they didn't. "Very few people know that Lord Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught him myself, fifty years ago, at Hogwarts. He disappeared after leaving the school… traveled far and wide… sank so deeply into the Dark Arts, consorted with the very worst of our kind, underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations, that when he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognizable. Hardly anyone connected Lord Voldemort with the clever, handsome boy who was once Head Boy here."

Ginny was numbly shocked. She wished she could have said she was more surprised, but after her encounter with Riddle in the Chamber, it wasn't hard to imagine that he would become You-Know-Who. But it certainly eliminated any good feelings she had left for him and made her feel dirtier than ever. She had consorted with the very person who had left Harry an orphan...

Of course, Dumbledore's explanation didn't do the wonders for Ginny's parents that it did for her.

"But, Ginny," her mother said, pulling Ginny, who felt worse than ever, closer to her. "What's our Ginny got to do with — with — him?" Ginny still felt obligated to explain. After all she had done, it was the very least she could do.

"His d-diary!" she sobbed, inconveniently starting to cry harder than ever. "I've b-been writing in it, and he's been w-writing back all year —"

"Ginny!" her father said instantly in exactly the shocked, disapproving voice she had been expecting. "Haven't I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain? Why didn't you show the diary to me, or your mother? A suspicious object like that, it was clearly full of Dark Magic —"

Ginny had to keep reminding herself that however angry her parents were with her — and rightfully so, she thought — they still loved her. No matter what, they would always love her. That seemed to be the only thing in the whole world she felt sure about anymore. But she had to answer them — nobody could, or should, help her out of this.

"I d-didn't know," she sobbed. "I found it inside one of the books Mum got me. I th-thought someone had just left it in there and forgotten about it —" This justification had been enough for her back when she first found the diary, but now it seemed hopelessly weak. Had she really been that stupid so recently?

"Miss Weasley should go up to the hospital wing right away," Dumbledore interrupted in a strong, clear voice. "This has been a terrible ordeal for her. There will be no punishment. Older and wiser wizards than she have been hoodwinked by Lord Voldemort." As she watched Dumbledore open the door for her, Ginny felt cool relief flow through her burning body. If Albus Dumbledore said she wouldn't be punished, she wouldn't be punished.

"Bed rest and perhaps a large, steaming mug of hot chocolate," he added. "I always find that cheers me up. You will find that Madam Pomfrey is still awake. She's just giving out Mandrake juice — I daresay the basilisk's victims will be waking up any moment."

"So Hermione's okay!" Ron said brightly. Ginny was numbly surprised that Ron could be so cheerful after having learned what she had done, but thought little of it.

"There has been no lasting harm done, Ginny," Dumbledore said, looking kindly down at her. Ginny was starting to feel a bit over-comforted, but she still appreciated it. But really, she would have been happy if everyone had simply not hated her.

Ginny had snuggled into one of the warm beds in the hospital wing and now felt a little better. It seemed she had forgotten how comfortable it felt to lay her head on a soft pillow. Her good, long cry had left her feeling much better, but she still had a headache. She was extremely tired, but whenever she closed her eyes frightening images of Riddle in the Chamber filled her mind.

However, she felt much more clear-minded now. Everything was all right — she had nothing to worry about anymore. Hagrid was coming back and, with the points given to Harry and Ron for saving her, Gryffindor would win the House Cup. There was now a feast going on, but she wasn't allowed to attend. She actually liked it better that way, though. It was most unlike her, but at the moment she preferred the dark and silence to the noise and excitement of a party.

"Is she going to be all right?" Ginny heard her mother ask, sounding very worried. Ginny's parents, who believed she was asleep, were talking to Madam Pomfrey.

"I don't know," Madam Pomfrey answered grimly. "Physically she's all right, but mentally…"

These words certainly didn't make Ginny feel any better, but they were reinforced by how everyone had been acting around her since she had left McGonagall's office. When she had stepped ungracefully into the infirmary, the first thing she had heard was the shrill voice of a newly unpetrified Hermione say "Oh, what happened to you?" as though she had entered the room with her arms chopped off. At least she knew Colin didn't hate her. He had started to eagerly tell her what he'd seen before he was Petrified, but her parents and Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let him talk about that in front of her.

"I can't say if she'll ever be the same again," Madam Pomfrey continued bleakly. "I mean, the poor girl's been through enough." Awkward silence followed.

"I never thought this — anything like th-this would ever happen," Ginny's mother sobbed suddenly. "You hear about things l-like this happening all the time, but I — I never thought it would happen to my little girl. And when she's just eleven!"

"What exactly did she go through?" Ginny heard her father ask quietly.

"I don't know any more than you do," admitted Madam Pomfrey. "The only way to find out any more would be to ask her and I don't think that would be wise. I imagine it would only upset the poor thing."

Ginny closed her eyes. Though it did indeed seem counterintuitive, she actually would have liked to talk to someone about what had happened to her. With her eyes closed, horrible images from the Chamber were again flooding her mind. She didn't want to keep all those images bottled up inside of her — she wanted to let them out, but didn't know how. She needed to share them with someone who would understand her — someone like the person Tom Riddle had pretended to be. But as she had laid there, she had already vowed to herself that she would never again give her full trust to another person or object. She would not let anyone as far into her heart as she had let Riddle. Not even someone like Harry.

"D'you think we should take her home for a few days?" Ginny's mother asked. "You know, so she can calm down a bit. It's only a little while until the end of the year anyway." Ginny didn't want to go home — in fact, she wished she could do the whole year over again without that stupid diary.

"I don't know, Molly," Ginny's father answered. "We can ask her what she wants when she wakes up."

Ginny wanted to say "you can ask me now" — partly so she could hear their reaction to finding out she had been listening in — but her mouth didn't want to open. In fact, she felt so tired she didn't think she would have been able to lift her head or even open her eyelids. She continued listening to her parents talk about what to do with her and eventually faded off into dreamless sleep…

The next morning, Ginny was lying on her bed in the Gryffindor dormitory. Though she was wide awake and fully dressed, she still felt tired. She lay almost perfectly still, staring at the ceiling — thinking. When she had entered the Gryffindor common room, the sounds of people cheering and crying with joy filled her ears. People she didn't even know told her they felt sorry for her — it was a bit overwhelming. In fact, she had learned that the school governors had sent Dumbledore back when they had heard that she had been taken into the Chamber, so even they cared about her, if only for her father's sake.

The end of year exams had been canceled and Lockhart was now a resident of the Janus Thickey Ward at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. As for Lucius Malfoy, it seemed probable that he had given Ginny the diary in the first place.

Ginny did feel happy, and a bit flattered, but she felt depressed at the same time. She would, of course, never allow what had happened to her to happen to her ever again, but it had happened to her so easily. She had even seen Lucius Malfoy take her Transfiguration book and then give it back to her. When she first saw the diary, shouldn't it have been obvious where it came from? How could she have not wondered even once where the diary really came from, especially after she realized what it was doing to her?

And what had happened to Ginny could still happen to someone else. Ginny really, really didn't want it to, though — no one deserved to go through what she had. Could she help protect others like her by letting her story be heard? No, she herself had heard Dzhinni Uizli's story and that hadn't stopped her. And since it had been revealed that Lockhart had stolen his accomplishments from real people, poor Dzhinni probably really existed. What if she had felt, just like Ginny did now, that her story could save someone like her?

"Hello there," said a disdainful voice. It was Fleeta Fleece.

"Go away," Ginny said without taking her eyes off the ceiling — she wasn't in the mood.

"So… did you enjoy your little adventure?" asked Fleeta as though Ginny had just returned from a dull shopping trip to buy boring things.

"You do realize I nearly died," Ginny told her coolly. "Weren't you at all worried about me?"

"Why would I be worried about you?" asked Fleeta snootily. "First you steal Lockhart from me — not that I wanted him or anything — and then you get yourself taken into the Chamber of Secrets! Now everyone feels so sorry for you — I bet you're just loving all the attention."

Anger pounded in Ginny's ears. After all the pain and hurt she had been through, Fleeta had the audacity to suggest that Ginny had actually wanted it! How could she even think such a thing? Ginny forced herself upwards into a sitting position so she could look at Fleeta properly. Fleeta's slate-colored eyes were colder than ever — it appeared she had progressed to actually loathing Ginny. But Ginny didn't feel angry anymore. After looking into the face of real evil down in the Chamber, Fleeta's pouty little face seemed petty and insignificant. Ginny would not dignify it with a response.

"Goodbye, Fleeta," she said, laying back down on her bed. Fleeta stalked out of the room.

Ginny went back to thinking. There was a lot of thinking to be done. She thought about when she'd been in the Chamber — she had been cold and scared. She had been crying as a voice that belonged to someone who said he loved her told her that she would die and that her death wouldn't even matter to him. It was easily the worst moment of her entire life. If only she had asked Hermione who Tom Riddle was — she would have probably known. The fact that Riddle was You-Know-Who should be well-known. Why was it kept so quiet?

And speaking of Hermione…

"Hi, Ginny. I thought I might find you here. What're you doing?"

"Thinking," she said tersely.

"What're you thinking about?" asked Hermione.

"Nothing," Ginny lied. "Could you leave me alone?" There was a long pause.

"Sure," Hermione said eventually, before turning to leave the room.

"Wait," Ginny said, sitting up, "I changed my mind — could you stay?"

"Sure," Hermione said, sounding, though a bit confused, very friendly. She sat down and waited for Ginny to start speaking, but Ginny didn't feel like talking. She still had a terrible headache.

"Please tell me what you're feeling," said Hermione in a very small voice.

"Happy, sad, angry, scared, guilty, tired," Ginny answered listlessly, not looking at Hermione. "You name it, I feel it." Hermione looked at her for a moment.

"I'm sorry," she said in an even smaller voice. Ginny closed her suddenly tear-filled eyes. This was so hard.

"Her— Hermione," she stuttered. "There — there's something I want — I need to talk to you about." And with that, Ginny went on to tell Hermione about almost everything (she left out a few embarrassing details) that had happened to her since she had found the diary, bringing herself to silent tears, but causing herself to feel a great sense of relief. Hermione, being Hermione, managed to put a spin on the events which Ginny hadn't thought of.

"I mean everyone is better off now, aren't they?" she pointed out. "The monster's dead, the diary's been destroyed, nobody got killed, and Lucius Malfoy's been sacked. So everything is actually better than it was before, isn't it?"

"But it might not have turned out so nice," said Ginny. "Someone could've died or — or worse. And towards the end, I knew what I was doing. I t-tried to deny it, but I really did know. And I couldn't stop myself. I t-tried to, but I couldn't. I f-failed everyone."

"Ginny, you're only eleven," said Hermione quietly.

"Oh, and how old are you?" Ginny replied, probably more curtly than was necessary. "Twelve?"

"Thirteen, actually," said Hermione. "My birthday's in September. But that's not the point. It's really incredible that you were able to resist Riddle at all — much less all on your own. What you really should have done was told someone and I can appreciate how terrifying that must have seemed from your point of view. You didn't mean to hurt anyone and no one was permanently harmed anyway."

"Well, Professor Lockhart lost his memory," Ginny pointed out, "but I think he's better off that way." Hermione bit her lip. Did she still like Lockhart?

"Hermione," Ginny said gently, hoping she sounded understanding, "I know you liked Lockhart, but just face it — he was git. He erased other people's memories and then took credit for what they did. In fact, if you think about it, it's kind of appropriate for him to end up like this, isn't it?" Hermione continued looking at her.

"I suppose," she said eventually, "we were both fooled by someone who wasn't what he appeared to be." Ginny suddenly felt a strong bond with Hermione she had never felt before. And now Hermione was looking as sad as she felt.

"Hey, it's okay," Ginny told her. "I feel stupid too."

Hermione looked up at her with a weak smile. Ginny smiled back, feeling secure in the knowledge that she would no longer be alone in the world. From that moment on, Hermione would be her friend.

Almost everyone in the school was unaware that Ginny had experienced anything more than being taken into the Chamber of Secrets and she did nothing to correct that impression. For awhile, people asked her all about her experience in the Chamber, but somehow she knew just how to handle it; she would answer their questions tersely and politely, and, if asked anything that would force her to mention Riddle or the diary, she would calmly say that she didn't feel like talking about that. No one dared to press her after she said that.

However, their curiosity was fleeting and when people began to lose interest in her it was a huge relief. But even when they had been interested, she still hadn't felt that bad. Of course, it was really at night when the terror struck. She was haunted by vivid nightmares about her time in the Chamber and every single night she couldn't help but go to bed thinking, If I had died in the Chamber of Secrets, this day would never have happened. Everything that I did today, I would have died having never done.

There was a silver lining though. She could now talk in front of Harry. She still hadn't managed to have a real conversation with him, but whenever she saw him in the corridors, she said "Hi, Harry." She wasn't sure how she had so suddenly gained this power, but suspected, in years to come, that it was because she no longer cared so much about what he thought of her. And they came rather close to having a conversation when they were homebound on the Hogwarts Express.

"Ginny," he said, "what did you see Percy doing, that he didn't want you to tell anyone?"

"Oh, that," she said and, when she remembered how Penelope Clearwater had been clinging onto Percy, she began to giggle. Now that all her problems were, for the most part, resolved, everything suddenly seemed a whole lot funnier. Ginny couldn't resist — she preceded to spill the beans on Percy. It would be one less secret she had to keep. And besides, it was fun.

"I walked in on them kissing in an empty classroom one day," she explained. "He was so upset when she was —" (Ginny's heart skipped a beat) "— you know — attacked. You won't tease him, will you?"

"Wouldn't dream of it," answered Fred, grinning mischievously.

"Definitely not," added George.

Ginny forced herself to smile anyway. At least she would go home feeling certain that Harry did indeed like her, if only as his best friend's little sister. It was better than nothing.

Ginny took a broomstick from her brothers' broom shed and turned to head up towards the paddock, feeling very aware of her racing heart. She was home again and she was miserable. She didn't want to be home. She had wasted her full first year at Hogwarts and desperately wished she could do it all over again. Why didn't she ever get the nerve to tell anyone about the diary? How could she have just sat by and let attacks against Muggle-borns go on for a whole year? And she had nearly died as a result of it all. How could she have been so stupid?

Once she reached the paddock, she looked around. Everything felt so different. She had changed so much, but the paddock, the Burrow, and the rest of her family seemingly hadn't changed it all. In fact, as she looked around, she thought everything still looked, more or less, as it had on a fateful day nearly six years ago.

Ginny stood still and closed her eyes, feeling countless emotions surge through her. So much had changed since the last time she had stood on that spot — she was a different girl now — an older and sadder one. Everything was different, but somehow exactly the same at the same time. It felt so strange. She thought about how happy and innocent she had been the last time she had stood on that spot. She knew she could never be that happy or innocent ever again.

Holding back a river of tears, Ginny opened her eyes again and climbed onto the broom. She took a deep breath and kicked off the ground. The wind flew through her fiery hair and against her face as she flew up into the sky.

She was getting up after her accident.