Ginevra Molly Weasley, better known as Ginny to her family and friends, was a petite eleven year-old little girl, with flaming red hair, milky white skin, and a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks. Most people would think she was cute as a button, but Ginny despised those types of monikers, and if she heard you calling her cute or anything of the like, she would likely hex you. For you see, Ginny wasn't a normal little girl; she was a witch, and she was boarding the Hogwarts Express to attend her first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
All of Ginny's older brothers had attended or were currently attending Hogwarts, including Ron, who was only a year older than she. She had accompanied her mother to the train station just last year to see him off, as well as three of her other brothers, the twins, Fred and George, and Percy. It was at King's Cross that they had encountered the lonely little boy with extremely disheveled black hair, lumpy, grey clothes that were ill-fitting at best, and broken glasses behind which were the greenest, most extraordinary eyes Ginny had ever seen.
She had nearly had kittens when Fred and George had told them the little boy was Harry Potter! All the years she had read the fairy tales, it had never once occurred to her that he might actually be real and attending Hogwarts. Besides, he looked nothing like she imagined he would. He wasn't much bigger than she, and she had always pictured him wearing billowing wizard robes and being a full-fledged wizard with a wand and lightening shooting out of his hands. Instead, a tatty old string had held his pants up and the dingy grey sweatshirt he'd been wearing had hung limply to his knees. He looked exactly the opposite of the imposing wizard Ginny had always dreamed of. She marveled over the fact that he was a real boy and not much older than herself.
So now, the excitement of being on the Hogwarts Express for the first time was only dampened slightly by Ginny's concern that neither Harry nor Ron had shown up on the platform after the rest of the family on the day she headed for Hogwarts. Her mother and father had assured her and her brothers they would find them and had shooed them quickly onto the train. Now Ginny sat with Fred, George, and Percy in a compartment gazing out at the passing landscape. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining brightly and she smiled happily all the same.
"Are you excited, Ginny?" George asked.
"Am I?" Ginny responded. "I sure am! I can't wait! I just know I'm going to be in Gryffindor with you lot."
"I don't know," Fred said. "You're awfully sneaky. You could be a Slytherin."
"No!" Ginny pouted. "I won't."
"Or Hufflepuff," George said. "You're tenacious."
"Gryffindor," Ginny repeated sternly.
"You could be in Ravenclaw," Percy interjected. "They are known for being smart, and you are that, Ginny."
"I'll be Gryffindor or I won't go to Hogwarts!" Ginny insisted.
"Well, you'd better tell the Sorting Hat that," Fred said.
"The Sorting Hat?" Ginny asked. "What's that?"
"It's how they decide what house you get put into," George said.
"By a hat?" Ginny sounded skeptical.
"You'll see," Fred grinned.
Ginny looked at her brothers warily. They had lied bunches to Ron last year about what Hogwarts was like, so she wasn't about to put it past them to be lying again. Of course, Percy hadn't contradicted them, and he never played along with Fred and George.
The lunch trolley passed by and was piled high with all sorts of treats – pumpkin pasties, chocolate frogs. Fred bought her a chocolate frog, but she was disappointed to see that it contained another Merlin card. She had about a dozen of them. She was stuffing it in her pocket when a bushy haired girl, who could only be the Hermione she had heard so much about, appeared in their doorway.
"Hello Fred, George, Percy," she said. "Oh, hello! You must be Ginny."
She smiled at Ginny, but immediately her brow creased with worry. "Have any of you lot seen Ron or Harry? I've looked everywhere for them."
"They missed the train," Fred said.
"Up to no good, more than likely," George said.
"The barrier solidified before they could go through," Percy said. "Mother and Father couldn't figure out why. I'm sure they have sorted it all out by now."
"Oh, thank goodness. I was getting worried," Hermione said. "Mind if I join you, then?"
She entered before they could answer and settled down next to Ginny.
"So, Ginny," Hermione said. "Ron has told me all about you. Are you excited? I remember how excited I was last year when I received my letter. I mean, imagine my surprise when I discovered I was a witch! Of course, you always knew so maybe you aren't as excited as I was."
"Oh no," Ginny said. "I've been waiting to go to Hogwarts ever since my oldest brother, Bill was attending. It sounded so wonderful and well, enchanting."
"It is that!" Hermione agreed. "Like something out of a storybook."
Ginny enjoyed getting to know Hermione better even if she did turn out to be a huge chatter box, not to mention a bit of a know-it-all, just like Ron had said. But they were endearing qualities, and Ginny liked her quite a bit.
When they arrived at Hogwarts, Hermione said a hurried good-bye, wishing Ginny good luck and went back to her original compartment to collect her things. Percy had to take care of his prefect duties, so Fred and George escorted Ginny off the train and guided her towards an extremely large and hairy man.
"First years, over here!" he bellowed.
"'lo there, Hagrid!" the twins called cheerfully.
Hagrid looked over the tops of all the first year heads that were gathered around him and smiled broadly.
"'lo you two," he said and gazed at Ginny. "'lo there Ginny. I'd know a Weasley anywhere."
Ginny smiled up at him. "Hello Hagrid! Nice to meet you!"
"Make sure she doesn't fall in, Hagrid!" Fred said.
"Don' worry 'bout a thing," Hagrid said. "Ginny, you can sit with me in the firs' boat."
Her brothers bid her farewell and told her they would see her soon and trotted off. Ginny climbed aboard Hagrid's boat and stared across the water at the castle and its glittering reflection in the lake. It was more amazing than she had imagined it would be. As they drew closer it looked as though every window was lit and beckoning warmly.
Hagrid helped all of the first years disembark from the boats and led them towards a very stern looking female professor who introduced herself as Professor McGonagall. Ginny knew that she was the head of the Gryffindor house. Professor McGonagall arranged them all in a line and appeared to warm a bit when she saw Ginny. They trooped into the Great Hall after her and Ginny gasped when she saw the enchanted ceiling for the first time. It appeared just like the sky above it and millions of stars twinkled down at them.
A stool stood in front of the head table and upon it, just as Fred and George had said sat a hat. It began singing a song, but Ginny was too enthralled with the Great Hall and all the students seated there, not to mention the professors to pay much attention. She was one of the last students in line and tried to pay attention as Professor McGonagall began calling names up.
A tiny blond boy, named Colin Creavey was sorted into Gryffindor and nearly tripped over his robes getting to the table. Right after him, a tall, lanky boy named Timothy Dinkley was placed in Hufflepuff. It continued like that, student after student. Later on, a girl with straggly blonde hair down to her waist with a very odd necklace and earrings and named Luna Lovegood was sorted into Ravenclaw. Ginny wondered how the hat decided who got put where. A dark-skinned girl with curly black hair, named Demelza Robbins was placed in Gryffindor and the girl right after her, with long ash-blonde hair, named Willow Starling was placed in Gryffindor as well. Finally, it was Ginny's turn and she approached the stool with some trepidation.
Settling on the stool, Professor McGonagall placed the hat on her head. It slid down over her eyes so she couldn't see anything.
"Hmmm," a soft voice whispered in her ear. "Yet another Weasley. All your brothers have proved themselves worthy of the Gryffindor name, but you, I sense fierce loyalty. You'd make a great addition to Hufflepuff."
"No!" Ginny thought fiercely. "I have got to be in Gryffindor."
"Tut tut," the hat sighed. "No need to get upset. I know full well where your deepest loyalty lies, and I have every intention of placing you in…"
"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat roared to the Great Hall.
Everyone cheered as Ginny hopped off the stool, beaming happily and sat next to her brothers and Hermione. Fred patted her on the back as she tucked in. Now, if only Harry and Ron had been there.
After the feast, Percy led all the first years up to the common room and showed them their dorms. Ginny entered her room and saw her battered trunk sitting at the foot of a four-poster bed with red and gold hangings. Her dorm mates were Willow and Demelza, who she had already noticed and two other girls; a brunette named Leslie Hayes and another blonde girl named Monica Chadsworth. She greeted them all and then opened her trunk to find her pajamas. Her books were piled on top of her things and she tossed them out as she rummaged. One of the last books she pulled out was a small, black diary that looked used. She flipped through it and saw that the pages were blank. Her mum must have bought it for her when she purchased the rest of her books. Ginny placed it on her nightstand and pulled out her pajamas.
Changing quickly, she climbed into bed and picked up the diary. Grabbing a quill and some ink from her nightstand she opened to the first page and wrote the date in the top right corner. Her brow furrowed as the ink disappeared off the page. She was about to try again when words appeared in the center of the page:
Ginny stared at the words as they faded and looked around at her dorm mates. They were all getting ready for bed as well and weren't paying any attention to her.
She wrote hello back and watched as those words disappeared just like her first ones had.
"My name is Tom Riddle. What's yours?"
"Is it really September 1, 1992, Ginevra?"
"Where are you?"
"Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry."
"Really? Tell me all about it."
Ginny told Tom everything about her first day at Hogwarts and he listened raptly. This was the best diary her mum had ever given her. She was going to have to send her an owl thanking her as soon as possible.
Ginny was running late for Herbology. She had had horrible anxiety induced nightmares the prior night about not fitting in at Hogwarts, making a fool of herself again and again in front of Harry, and not making any friends. She'd woken up around 4 in the morning, shaking and sweating, with the uncanny feeling that her dream had been real. It had taken her over an hour to fall back into an uneasy sleep, and when she had finally woken up the second time, she realized that not only had she missed breakfast, and her first class of the morning, History of Magic; but that she was going to be late for Herbology if she didn't hurry.
Stumbling over the grounds, she hitched her book bag higher on her shoulder and tried to avoid the second year students heading back from the greenhouses. Looking around she noticed they were Gryffindor and Hufflepuffs. Her stomach flipped flopped inside her and her mouth became cottony. She put her head down, hoping her hair would hide her as she tried to skirt around the group of students who were laughing and talking about their most recent lesson with Professor Sprout. Their voices became fainter and fainter and she thought she had avoided having to speak to anyone she may know, one person in particular when a pair of scuffed black shoes came into her line of sight and before she could stop herself, she had bumped right into their owner.
Risking a glance upwards, she followed the robes of a Gryffindor student up, taking in the untucked shirt, poorly knotted tie and finally, brilliant green eyes behind crooked glasses, and the scruffy hair of none other than Harry Potter. She gulped and mumbled an apology, while pulling her book bag closer to herself. Looking around further she noticed the distinct absence of both her brother, Ron and Hermione. Heavens, could it get any worse?
"Hi, Ginny!" Harry said brightly, smiling at her. "Do you have Herbology now?"
"Er," Ginny started. "Yes?" It was worse. He was trying to have a conversation with her. Didn't he know she was incapable of speech in his presence? Oh, honestly, Ginny what is the matter with you? He's just a boy. Yeah, but he's Harry freaking Potter!
"Herbology's actually one of my better subjects, so far," Harry was saying. "I'm not complete rubbish at it, like Potions. What about you? How do you like school so far?"
Oh Merlin, he was so sweet. Like he actually cared what she thought or how she was. Had she remembered to brush her hair that morning? Or her teeth? She was sure she looked a sight. She had no idea what to say to him, plus she was going to be late to class.
"I'mgonnabelateforclass!" she rushed out and ran past him towards the greenhouses.
"Oh, right, sorry," Harry said somewhat bemusedly after her, and continued on towards the castle.
Ginny mentally kicked herself all the way to class. Here she had been given an opportunity to have a nice chat with Harry without having to worry about Ron shooting knowing looks her way, or Hermione's appraising eyes, and she had blown it. Not only blown it; but had blown Harry off as well, as if he wasn't worth the time of day. What must he be thinking?
That evening, after eating a hasty dinner and somehow avoiding running into any of her brothers or Harry again, Ginny rushed up to her room to write in her diary. It was the neatest diary she had ever owned because Tom gave her advice. She kept meaning to write to her mother to thank her, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.
Tonight Ginny related the entire mortifying encounter with Harry and waited in anticipation for Tom to respond.
"Why do you care what this boy thinks of you?"Tom asked."You're only eleven. You should enjoy being at school while you can and focus on your classes and making friends."
Ginny quickly wrote back. "I love being here, but I want Harry to be my friend more than anything. He's my brother, Ron's best mate and he's famous. There were all sorts of stories and rumors about him when I was growing up, but no one could figure out what happened to him, or where he disappeared to. Some people thought he was made up and not real at all. But then, he shows up asking my Mum for directions for the Hogwarts Express last year, and blimey that was strange. Ron told me later that Harry didn't know anything. Nothing about the wizarding world, how to do magic, that he was famous for ending the War, none of it. And at first he didn't mind showing his scar or talking about the stories, but after they got to Hogwarts and all the students were staring at him and some of them, like Draco Malfoy were so mean to him, Harry did everything he could to blend in. But that's practically impossible because there's no one else like him here."
It seemed like Ginny had to wait an eternity for Tom to process what she had just written, and she was about to close the diary in disappointment when words began scrawling across the page.
"There was a Wizard War? How did a boy who knew nothing of magic stop a war?"
"No one knows for sure," Ginny wrote. "Harry was a baby after all. But He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named tried to kill him anyway, only it didn't work and Harry survived and You-Know-Who lost his magic and disappeared. That's why Harry is called The Boy Who Lived and why he's famous."
"Who was this You-Know-Who? Do they have a real name?"
Ginny blanched. "We aren't supposed to say it. It's bad luck, but I suppose I could write it and that would be all right. He was a wizard named Voldemort."
"What do you mean you three aren't going to the feast tonight?" Ginny asked her brother Ron.
"Harry promised Nearly Headless Nick that he'd go to his Deathday Party," Ron replied. "You know how Harry is, once he says he's going to do something he doesn't go back on his word, not even to a bloody ghost. So, Hermione and me said we'd go to. You know, to keep him company."
Ginny was practically beside herself. She had been at Hogwarts for over a month and she still was no closer to being able to have any kind of meaningful conversation with Harry. She'd been hoping to attempt to talk to him that night at the feast, figuring it would be easier to come up with something to talk about, but now he wasn't even going. It was maddening! She didn't have any trouble talking to anyone else in the entire school, not even Professor Snape. She had made friends with some of her classmates like Colin, and two of her dorm mates, Demelza and Willow, and she even kind of liked Luna. She could talk to older students like Neville and Fred and George's best mate, Lee, but still, with Harry she was at a loss.
"I'm sorry, Ginny," Ron was saying. "I know you were really looking forward to it, what it being your first holiday feast and all. I'll make it up to you. You can have all the Chocolate Frogs I have and you can keep the cards to."
"You better believe I'm taking all your Chocolate Frogs, Ronald Weasley! From now until you graduate!" Ginny practically yelled at him and stalked off before he could utter a reply.
Now, Ginny had just lost four hours of her life and judging by how dark it was outside, she might have missed the Halloween feast as well. She was standing in a deserted corridor and had no idea how she had wound up there. Had she fallen asleep and been sleepwalking?
She remembered rushing up to her dormitory after that conversation with Ron to write to Tom about how upset she was over the entire situation before the Halloween feast.
Tom had been very understanding and encouraging. He had told her he was sure she would be able to have something to talk about with Harry very soon. She just needed the right moment, he had said.
But now the bell tower had just struck ten and she had missed the celebration all together. The students were probably heading back to their common rooms at this very moment. She felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes, but refused to cry. She was not a baby. She started to head down the corridor when she noticed her reflection in the window. She turned towards the window and gasped. There were what appeared to be chicken feathers stuck in her hair. She plucked one out and held it up to examine closer. When she did so, she saw that her hands were streaked red with what she was pretty sure was blood. Her stomach lurched sickeningly and she fell to her knees, trying to wipe the blood off her hands onto her robes, but they were covered with the sticky substance as well. Shrieking, she ripped the robes off and balled them up as tightly as she could. What had she done?
Suddenly, she heard screaming coming from an adjacent corridor, and her eyes widened in fear. What if the blood on her hands and the yelling were connected? She'd be expelled for sure! She was trapped and the only way back to her common room was by where all the commotion was going on. Hastily she plucked all the feathers out of her hair and tossed them out an open window.
Keeping her hands hidden in her balled up robes she crept towards the ruckus, hoping she could avoid running into anyone. She turned into an adjacent hallway to find nearly the entire school body there; all straining to see what was going on at the other end. It had gotten deathly quiet and then the crowd was parting to let Headmaster Dumbledore, Professors Snape, McGonagall, and Lockhart through, followed by a sniffling Filch and then Ron, Harry, and Hermione. Ginny quickly ducked back into the corridor she had just come from before she could be seen.
After they had passed by, she stepped out and asked the nearest student to her, "What's going on?"
"We're not sure. I think I heard something about Mrs. Norris being hanged or something," he replied and turned back to try to get a better look.
"I heard someone say that Harry Potter jinxed her," another boy was saying.
"What?" Ginny flared. "He wouldn't do that!"
"How would you know?" the first boy, a Hufflepuff she believed, asked. "I bet he thinks he can do whatever he wants and get away with it to."
"You take that back!" Ginny said, forgetting about her bloodied hands and grabbing her wand. "Or I'll…I'll hex you!"
Ginny jumped and saw her brother, Percy pushing through the crowd, followed by her fellow first years.
"What are you doing with your wand out, pointed at this boy?" Percy asked.
"He was spreading rumors about Harry jinxing Mrs. Norris!" Ginny said, still pointing her wand at the Hufflepuff.
"Put your wand away right now and come with me!" Percy said. "There has been an 'incident' and all the heads of houses have ordered us back to our common rooms."
Ginny shot one final glare at the offending boy and followed after Percy, careful to stow her wand and hands back in her robes before he looked any closer at her.
"Is it true, Percy?" she asked, trotting next to her older brother. "Did something happen to Mrs. Norris?"
Percy's lips thinned. "Yes."
"The professors don't know yet," he replied.
Ginny fretted. What if what had happened to Mrs. Norris had something to do with the state she had found herself in? And what if whatever she may or may not have done had gotten Harry, Ron, and Hermione in trouble?
"Are Harry, Ron, and Hermione in trouble?" She asked, afraid of Percy's answer.
"They were the first to find Mrs. Norris, but I can't imagine the professors think they had anything to do with it," Percy replied.
"What if they do think it?" Ginny asked, beginning to cry. "What if they expel Harry and Ron because of the car and now this?"
"Ginny," Percy admonished her. "Stop jumping to conclusions. I am sure the professors simply wanted to ask them a few more questions away from the entire school. Stop worrying; they won't be expelled. Now stop asking questions and as soon as we get back to the common room I want you to go straight to bed. You look like you are coming down with something."
But Ginny couldn't sleep that night from worrying about everything that had happened that evening and she only felt slightly better when she saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione sitting at breakfast, heads close together deep in a private conversation. She really needed to write to Tom right away. He always made her feel better.
"Tell me more about Harry Potter." Tom was asking Ginny, when she had wrote to him her worries about the chicken feathers, blood, and Harry and Ron possibly getting expelled for petrifying Mrs. Norris. "Who are his friends?"
"Why do you need to know who his friends are?" Ginny asked.
"If I know more about him, I'll be able to better help you make him notice you," Tom replied patiently.
"Oh, Tom!" Ginny said. "You are so wonderful. What would I do without you?"
She spent the better part of the afternoon writing about Ron and Hermione. Ginny felt better about things after she had poured her heart out to Tom, but unfortunately it didn't last long. A couple of weeks later on the night of a Quidditch match where Harry's arm was broken, Ginny had terrible nightmares once again.
She had written to Tom about the match and how she was worried about Harry. Tom had suggested that perhaps now would be a good time to visit Harry when she knew he would be alone and away from the prying eyes of the school. She had readily agreed, but then couldn't remember anything more from that evening.
The next morning she had discovered that her classmate, Colin had been petrified not far from the hospital wing. Ginny was practically beside herself. Colin was a sweet boy and had always been nice to her. They had actually become good friends and studied together from time to time. She couldn't remember if she had gone to see Harry last night. If she hadn't, where had she gone?
"It's terrible," Demelza said quietly next to Ginny. "Rumor has it that he was trying to visit Harry Potter in the hospital ward. You know what this means."
"What are you implying, Demelza?" Willow asked.
"Well, everyone is starting to wonder, you know," Demelza said defensively. "First Mrs. Norris and now Colin; and who is always in the near vicinity of the scenes of the crime? I'd stay as far away from him as I could if I were you."
Willow sighed. "You are so dramatic, as usual."
Ginny glared at Demelza. "Harry didn't have anything to do with it."
"Who did then, Ginny dear?" Demelza asked. "It looks awfully suspicious, and you know it."
Ginny hung her head and stared at the table. Fat tears spattered the glossy wooden surface and the few bites of breakfast she had managed to swallow threatened to come back up. She pushed away from the table and ran out of the Great Hall. Demelza called after her, but she ignored her and ran outside into the courtyard.
She fretted for days after Colin was petrified. Percy kept hounding her that she was ill, but so far she had avoided having to answer to any incriminating questions. She didn't think things could possibly get any worse until they did.
"Ginny!" Demelza shrieked, running into their room, closely followed by an extremely agitated looking Willow. "You won't believe what just happened at the dueling club."
Ginny stared dully at her friends. "What?"
"Harry spoke Parseltongue and attacked Justin Finch-Fletchley with a snake!" Demelza practically shouted.
"What? You must be joking," Ginny said. "Nobody but You-Know-Who can speak to snakes."
"I know you want to defend him, but believe me, it's true," Demelza said. "We were right there and everybody heard him."
Ginny looked between her two friends, resting her eyes on Willow, who was always the more level-headed of the two. She nodded her head sadly.
"It's true, Ginny," she said.
"He's a pariah," Demelza prattled on. "Everybody knew he was different, but this is the icing on the cake. Even Professor Snape was disturbed by the entire incident."
"I don't care what you say," Ginny said, glaring at Demelza. "Harry would never intentionally hurt anybody."
"I want to believe that as much as you do," Demelza replied. "But if you had seen and heard what we did, you'd wonder to. And Justin's understandably terrified."
It didn't help matters that the very next day Justin was found petrified. Ginny didn't know what to think. She had no memory of where she had been or what she had done since Demelza had delivered the awful news about Harry to when Justin had been discovered. But was it her or was it Harry? Everyone was talking about him and how the only other wizard who could speak Parseltongue was the Dark Lord.
Colin had been pestering Harry a lot before he was petrified. He had even asked Ginny if she could get Harry to talk to him more, but she had laughed and confessed to the boy that she could hardly talk to The Boy Who Lived herself. Justin had been terrified of Harry and spreading rumors around school about him. Both had been found petrified soon after run-ins with Harry.
No! Harry was a nice boy. Deep in her heart she knew he would never intentionally hurt anyone, just as she had told Demelza. He simply wasn't capable, and he had been so sweet to her. Ignoring all the silly things she did around him and trying to talk to her. No, she was truly fearful that she was the one that was causing the attacks, and any bad thoughts she was having regarding Harry were not her own.
Tom was influencing her in some way. She was becoming increasingly sure of it. Maybe writing to him wasn't such a good idea anymore. She spent more time writing in the diary than studying or sleeping and she was exhausted.
She felt like she hadn't slept in days, but she always found herself in her bed, fully clothed from the night before, as if she had fallen into it without bothering to undress.
She felt like she was slowly losing her mind. Every time she wrote in the diary she lost time. The diary was becoming an obsession with her and she needed to stop relying on it so much. She stuffed it in the bottom of her trunk and vowed to never take it out again.
The Christmas holidays were upon them and she and her brothers had decided to stay at Hogwarts along with Harry and Hermione. There weren't many other students staying and the castle seemed cold and lonely to Ginny. Everyone was so preoccupied that no one paid much attention to her and she was miserable.
Christmas day dawned bright and cold and she half-heatedly opened the small pile of gifts at the end of her bed. As usual, there was a knitted blue jumper from her mother. Ron's contribution to the pile was a box of Chocolate Frogs, Fred and George gave her some Fillibuster's Whizbangs, and Percy had given her an old book of wizard poetry. She wasn't sure what he was thinking with that gift. She wasn't a big fan of poetry. Bill had sent her a scarab bracelet, which she loved, and Charlie had sent her a barrette with green dragons on it.
Sighing, she was sad to see there wasn't a present from Harry. Not that she had gotten him anything, but she had thought about it. It wasn't like they were close friends or anything and she was sure he hadn't gotten Fred, George, or Percy anything, but she was sad all the same.
Pulling her new jumper on, she headed downstairs for the feast. The others were gathered there, apparently waiting for her and she quickly joined them. She noticed that her mother had sent Harry a new green jumper that was just the right size. He smiled at her when she arrived.
"Happy Christmas, Ginny!" he said cheerfully.
Okay, maybe he had given her a Christmas present after all. Acknowledging her presence was a pretty nice thing to do. He looked rather cute and she couldn't help but notice that the green jumper made his eyes look even greener, if that was even possible. Ginny liked the fact that her Mum took extra care to make sure Harry's jumper was knitted just right with just the right color yarn. She knew that if her mother had her way, she'd smother him with all the love she had in her. From what Ron had told them about Harry's relatives, he needed all the love he could get.
Oh Merlin, they were all staring at her. Had she been staring?
"H-happy Christmas, H-harry," she gulped. "Happy Christmas, everyone."
"Happy Christmas," the group chorused back, and they all headed for the door.
Ginny trailed behind; embarrassed she may have looked like a complete idiot just then. She was the last one through the portrait hole, and it was just closing behind her when she heard Hermione say to Harry:
"Honestly, Harry," she said. "I'm appalled by the present the Dursleys sent you. What kind of aunt and uncle send their only nephew a toothpick?"
Harry looked embarrassed. "Hermione, drop it, please."
"At least Harry won't have to worry about having any food stuck in his teeth," Ron cut in. Harry grinned at him gratefully.
"It's not funny, Ron!" Hermione said, indignantly. "You shouldn't be laughing either, Harry. It's horrible."
Harry's face darkened. "I don't want to talk about it anymore, Hermione."
"Hold on there, Hermione!" Fred said.
"Yeah," George chimed in. "You don't want to make the Heir of Slytherin angry."
"You wouldn't like him when he's angry," Fred added.
Hermione looked askance at the twins, while Harry and Ron roared with laughter. Percy glared at them all and Ginny nearly burst into tears.
"Stop it!" she cried.
They all looked at her in shock and it was Percy who came to her defense.
"I told you two to stop making those jokes. They upset, Ginny," Percy said sternly to the twins.
"We're sorry, Gin-Gin," Fred said.
"Yeah, we won't make any more jokes," George said.
"We'll be solemn for the rest of the day," Fred added.
Both of them pressed the palms of their hands together in front of their chests and sat quietly at the table. Ron and Harry snorted with even more laughter, while Percy glared at his brothers.
"The lot of you are so immature," Percy said.
"Sorry we all can't be uptight like you, Percy dear," George said.
"My dear brother, you just broke your vow of silence," Fred indicated.
"So did you, dear brother of mine," George replied back.
"Oh right," Fred said and smiled. "I suppose that means we're back in business."
They rubbed their hands gleefully together and tucked in.
"Those two are simply incorrigible," Hermione said, as she took a seat.
Ginny sat by Percy and across from Ron and Harry. They all chatted happily about their plans for the day and the Christmas Feast. Ginny found she didn't have much to contribute to the conversation and was deeply disappointed to hear that everyone had plans that apparently, didn't include her.
Feeling even more depressed than ever, she walked with Percy back up to the common room. Percy lectured her on how she needed to take better care of herself and that she hadn't eaten enough. Ginny sighed and nodded her head, too tired to argue with him.
"I'm going to take a nap," Ginny said. "I'm tired."
She trudged up the stairs and flopped on her bed. Looking up at her canopy, she could almost hear Tom's diary calling to her from deep within her trunk. She longed to open it up and divulge everything she was feeling at the moment. She felt like the heaviness on her heart would go away if she could talk to Tom. He always seemed to have an answer for her.
Giving in to her weakness, she dug the diary out and wrote for what seemed hours.
Tom couldn't call the snake because someone might suspect with most of the student body being gone for the holidays. But he was restless. His nemesis beckoned to him and he was curious, he couldn't wait. He had to see for himself what all the fuss was about.
Ginny cried in her sleep, but he was tired of being nice and understanding. She was getting weaker and it was much easier to take control of her now than it had been at the beginning. The time for niceties was over.
She stumbled out of her bed, led by unseen forces and made her way to the second year boys' dormitory. It was late. In the back of her mind she heard the clock tower tolling one in the morning. She stood at the foot of Harry's bed for hours and watched him sleep.
He tossed and turned and the whole room seemed to vibrate with an unknown energy. He moaned and beads of sweat broke out on his brow. His left hand pressed against his scar, but he didn't wake up from whatever nightmare he was having.
A feral grin broke out on Ginny's face. He was weak and just a small boy. Certainly no match when the time came and it would be soon.
Ginny woke up with a start. Her hair was plastered to her face with sweat and her whole body trembled. Her heart pounded in her chest as she tried to remember the nightmare. There was something about Harry, but she couldn't remember. Taking ragged breaths she got out of bed and sat on the windowsill, looking out over the snow covered school grounds.
Her first year of school was turning into one huge nightmare. She had to make it stop. It was Tom. He wasn't as nice as he seemed. Something lurked underneath his surface, something she feared. She had to get rid of the diary. It was her only hope.
Since throwing Tom's diary away, Ginny had been feeling much better. She felt like a load had been lifted off her shoulders, the nightmares had all but ceased and there hadn't been any more attacks. She still wasn't a hundred percent certain the diary and attacks were connected, but she was still glad to be rid of it. She felt like she was herself again, and she thought that perhaps she should try to be a bit bold in regards to Harry.
Ginny clutched a Valentine she had written for him in her hand, debating whether or not to snag one of Lockhart's cupids or not. After reading some of the poetry in the book Percy had given her for Christmas, she had spent most of the previous night prior to Valentine's composing a poem of her own. It wasn't the best, but she desperately wanted to tell Harry her feelings for him, even if it was anonymously.
She thought she would think about it during her first class before deciding and walked past a grumpy looking dwarf cupid at the entrance of the Great Hall. Before she knew what was happening he had grabbed the card from her hand.
"Oy, this a Valentine?" He asked and looked it over. "Alright, I'll see it gets delivered."
"What?" Ginny asked belatedly as the dwarf waddled away. "Wait! No, I changed my mind!"
She chased after him, but he soon was lost in the crowd of students jostling to get to class or find a cupid of their own.
"Something wrong?" a dreamy voice to her left asked.
Ginny glanced over and saw the Ravenclaw girl, Luna. She hadn't spoken to her much since the first month of school, so was surprised that Luna had addressed her at all.
"Oh, that dwarf ran off with my Valentine," Ginny sighed, biting her lip.
Luna looked around the sea of students. "I don't think you can get it back now. Those dwarves are full of Hecklelumps. It makes them impervious to capture. Plus it's very contagious. You don't want to get Hecklelumps. It makes humans go crazy."
"Oh, er, what are Hecklelumps?" Ginny asked.
"Tiny little creatures that burrow in your ears and shout at you," Luna said. "My father had a bout with them not long after my mother died. I thought he was going to be sent away to St. Mungo's, but he managed to drown them out. Don't worry about your Valentine. I am sure Harry will appreciate the effort you put into it."
"Huh?" Ginny stared at Luna in shock. "No, my…no, it's not for…how did you…I didn't sign it." She finished lamely.
Luna smiled beatifically at her and walked into their History of Magic class, and Ginny trailed behind her.
She worried the rest of the day about Harry's reaction to her Valentine. What if he realized it was from her? She'd have to find the nearest hole and crawl in it and die. It was that simple.
She hadn't seen the grumpy dwarf for the rest of the day and was hoping he had gotten lost. However, as she and her fellow first years were going to their Transfiguration class, they ran into a group of second years going in the opposite direction, and Harry was among them. Then she saw the dwarf yelling at him and trotting after him, much to Harry's and her dismay.
'Oh, Merlin,' Ginny thought. 'Not here!'
She stared open-mouthed. It was like watching a train wreck as Harry tried to fight off the dwarf and the tug-of-war they played with his book bag. When his books, parchment, and ink went flying everywhere she didn't think it could get any worse. Of course, at that moment Draco Malfoy showed up just in time for the denouement of the show. A cupid dwarf sitting on Harry's feet to keep him from budging and serenading him:
His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard.
I wish he was mine, he's really divine,
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.
Ginny tried to laugh, but she could feel the heat rising in her face. Her poem hadn't seemed so bad when she had read it over silently, but recited out loud it was atrocious. Harry was laughing along with everyone else, but she could see he was frantically trying to pick up all his school things to beat a hasty retreat. His face was flaming red and Ron wasn't helping matters by guffawing loudly at Harry's side.
Thankfully, Percy was trying to shoo everyone away from the scene, but Malfoy wasn't having it. He was now taunting Harry with a very familiar looking book he'd just picked up from the floor. A book Harry seemed to want back very badly. So badly, he disarmed Malfoy of it instead of wasting time fighting over it.
It was all Ginny could do not to rush over and yank it out of his hand. What if he wrote in it and Tom found out who he was? Oh, she was sure Tom would spill all her secrets she had confided in him about Harry. Or, what if Tom made Harry do the things she thought he had made her do? She didn't think she could live with herself if that happened.
She barely heard the jibe Malfoy threw her way as she walked past him. She couldn't dare spare a glance at Harry and covered her face in shame. Her mind was tumbling over itself trying to figure out how she could get the diary back. She had to get it back.
A few days later, while everyone was at dinner and she knew there was Quidditch practice for the Gryffindor team, Ginny returned to the common room and snuck up to the boys' dormitory, hoping that she didn't run into anyone. Entering the second year dorm room she quickly looked around to locate Harry's bed. It was directly opposite the door and she ran over to it quickly. She ripped the drawer of the nightstand open, and started tossing everything out. It was full of junk – candy wrappers, torn pieces of parchment, broken quills and a spilled bottle of ink. Harry was a slob. 'Maybe he wouldn't notice that someone had gone through his stuff' she thought feverishly.
She pulled back the covers of his bed and looked under all the pillows. Becoming increasingly frantic, she ripped them open making sure the diary wasn't hidden inside. Getting on her hands and knees she looked under his bed and pulled out the rucksack the diary had been in the other day. She dumped it out on the floor and tore through all its contents, but came up empty-handed.
That left his trunk. She flipped it open and tossed out his robes, clothes, socks, old school books and spare quills and parchment. Finally at the very bottom she found what she was looking for, hidden under the green jumper her mother had made him his this year. She grabbed the diary and dashed out of the room. She couldn't bear looking back at the mess she had made of his things.
Feeling sick, she ran to her room and vomited into the rubbish bin by the door. The diary was still clutched in her hand and it seemed to vibrate, as if it were trying to call to her. Sitting down at a desk, she opened it with shaking hands. Words scrolled unbidden across the page:
"That wasn't very nice, Ginevra. I thought we were friends. However, you'll be happy to know that even though you treated me so poorly, I didn't tell Harry anything about you and your silly infatuation."
Ginny sobbed in relief and laid her head down on the desk next to the diary.
When Ginny woke up, she opened her eyes and was staring at a vaulted ceiling far above her head. Long shadows played across the floor from the tall windows along the wall in front of her bed. She blinked trying to remember what had happened and where she was. She could hear quiet murmuring coming from a room whose door had been left ajar. She turned her head to the right and saw a small table with a glass of water and a bottle of No Dream potion sitting on it.
She was in the hospital ward and it all came crashing back to her; attacking Hermione and Penelope, and Tom forcing her into the dark, damp chamber and draining her life away. Harry rescuing her and nearly dying in the process. A single tear leaked out of her left eye and trickled down the side of her face, pooling in her ear. How could she face any of them again?
Her mother and father had been so disappointed in her. While they had been grateful she was alive and no lasting harm had been done to anyone, they had lectured her on her irresponsible behavior. She had no answer for them. Tom had been very charming and she had fallen for the lines he had fed her.
Fresh tears poured from her eyes and she covered her face with her hands. A small sob escaped her lips and her whole body trembled from her crying.
"Please don't cry anymore, Ginny," a familiar voice softly said from her left.
She looked over and saw Harry sitting on the bed next to hers. The last time she had seen him, he had been filthy and covered in blood. Now he looked like the Harry she had always looked forward to seeing every day, and that made her cry harder. He knew how miserable and weak she was, and he would never see her as anything else but a helpless little girl.
Ginny's bottom lip quivered. "I s-so, so s-sorry."
He shook his head. "You don't have anything to be sorry about, Ginny. It's Voldemort who will be sorry. Dumbledore will see to that, I'm sure."
He said it with such conviction, but where was Dumbledore when Tom had taken Ginny down in the Chamber?
"But," she began, taking her time to get the words right. "Dumbledore didn't come to get me. You did. Y-you're the bravest boy I know."
"Ron came to, you know," Harry said quickly. "If it hadn't been for the avalanche, he would have been right there with you."
Ginny nodded. "I know my brother is brave, Harry, but in the end, it was you who had to face Tom alone."
"So did you, Ginny. You managed to keep him at bay for nearly a year," Harry said earnestly.
"Harry," Ginny said, fresh tears falling. "Look at all those students I petrified! Colin and Hermione, and the others. I'm weak."
"No, you're not," he said sincerely. "Somehow you managed to have some bit of control to keep from seriously hurting anyone. I'm sure of it. If you were weak, Tom would have had complete control over you and somebody probably would have died. You're brave to, Ginny."
"Do you," she started, speaking barely above a whisper. "Do you mean that?"
Harry nodded. "I do."
She smiled gratefully over at him, and he grinned back, that wonderful crooked grin of his that lit up his eyes. Ginny was about to get out of bed to give him a hug, when Madam Pomfrey came bustling out of her office, followed by Ginny's parents.
Madam Pomfrey admonished her for attempting to be ambulatory so soon and scolded Harry for waking Ginny up. She began shooing him out the door, saying he was perfectly fine now and should be getting back to class.
Ginny was about to protest that Harry hadn't woken her up, but her mother smothered her with yet another bear hug, making it very hard to breath. Instead, she looked over her mother's shoulder and watched him leave.
Before he reached the door, he turned around to wave to her and mouthed, 'I'll see you soon.'
She smiled back and thought to herself, 'I can't wait.'