LbN: Written for the Teachers' Lounge "I Never" challenge.
"Go away," I whisper. "You're dead."
"I was dead the first time you talked to me, too," Riddle says. "Didn't stop you then. Or any other time for that matter."
"Shut it. Leave."
He doesn't leave. Just stands here in front of me, eyes emanating the same fake concern I'd been able to feel through the diary at the age of eleven. He smiles. "They love you, you know. It's quite funny."
"I believe I told you to piss off."
"Ginny the Unstoppable. Isn't that what they call you now?"
"The Prophet made that stupid name up…" I mutter.
"Best Chaser in the league…better, even, than her captain and mentor, Angelina Johnson."
"I never wanted all this attention."
"And so charitable! All of the winning Quaffles are auctioned off—proceeds go to the War Orphans' Home."
"I don't need all that stuff."
"Fiercest competitor since—"
"Quidditch was supposed to be fun!" I yell. It echoes in the wide room "It was supposed to be some fun career that I could get rich and retire from. But it's… I've turned into a brand. I hate it."
Riddle smirks. "What would they think if they knew you still needed me? Still pouring your heart out to me…."
"No," I snap. "You were never really a comfort. There was always something…off. I may have been an insecure, stupid little girl when you found me. I may have let you do awful things through me—and to me. But I never needed you. I just didn't know it back then. I know it now—and consider yourself replaced."
Riddle snorts with laughter. "Replaced? That's rich. If that's the case, then why isn't the love of your life here? Why aren't you having this conversation snuggled up at home? Why do you hide the fact that you hate Quidditch from your darling?"
"I'm not hiding. I'm toughing it out until the end of the season, you manipulative bastard—"
"And as for not needing me, well…we both know that's not true. We both know I kept you alive during the war. Another thing you haven't shared."
"McGonagall told the Carrows you used me that year. She's the one who used you as a way to keep me safe—not me."
"Still…I'm responsible for your survival."
"Like hell you are. I'm responsible for my life. And I have never been so ready to be rid of you."
Riddle says nothing at this, but he loses his smirk. Finally he shakes his head. "You are all so stupid." He taps my nose gently with a forefinger. "None of you will ever be rid of me. Especially you."
I wake covered in sweat.
Angelina is beside me with a concerned look on her face. "Another nightmare?"
"Yeah," I gasp.
"Look, Ginny," she says, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Why don't you…take a break? Go home for a while—be with Tonks and Teddy. I think…the stress of this season is getting to you."
I nod. I can't admit it to anyone but myself. The boy who haunts my dreams—the boy who became a monster—is right. I hate Quidditch. Taking a few more deep breaths, I nod again at Angelina and say, "Maybe you're right."
I know that it's time to leave.