The stone floor was cold beneath her cheek. The sound of dripping water echoed eerily around her. She knew she was going to die in this hellish Chamber, killed by the memory of a sixteen year old boy who had stepped from the pages of a fifty year old diary.
Vague, blurry shapes shifted across her limited vision. She could feel her life's energy draining slowly from her body. She tried to move her head, but that action brought a horrible stabbing pain. Her feeble attempts caught the attention of the only other occupant of the dank room.
"Still fighting little Ginevra?" Crouching down, Tom's dark, handsome face stared closely into hers. "I must say you have surprised me with your display of will. I was so sure your pathetic mind would have collapsed months ago. Yes, you are quite a surprise."
Tom rose, and Ginny could hear his faint footsteps stalking around her.
"Leave me alone," Ginny whispered weakly. "Go away."
As soon as the footsteps stopped, Tom's blurry form knelt next to her.
"Oh no, I can't do that. I need you, Ginevra. You see, the weaker you become, the stronger I get. Soon, you will completely fade and I will be real." A malicious smile lit his face. "Before long, young Potter will arrive to rescue you. When he does, I will kill him as well."
"Not Harry," Ginny begged. "Please, don't hurt Harry." If Harry was killed it would be her fault. Why did she have to write in that diary? She was such a fool.
Tom ran his finger along the side of Ginny's face. "Oh yes, Ginevra, thanks to you, I will be able to kill Harry Potter. Nothing or no one will stand in my way. My destiny will be fulfilled, and Lord Voldemort will again strike fear into the hearts of his enemies."
A silent, solitary tear rolled down Ginny's cheek. She thought of her parents and her brothers. 'I'm sorry,' she thought. 'I'm not strong enough to fight him anymore.'
A booming sound rang through the Chamber. A malicious smile crossed Tom's lips. Ginny felt her blood freeze in her veins. 'Go back Harry!' her mind screamed. 'Get out before it's too late!'
"I think my dear Ginevra that we have a guest. This should be quite interesting. Not a word my sweet. We wouldn't want to ruin the surprise." Tom stood and retreated into the shadows as Ginny's world began to go black.
"Noooooo!" Her agonized wail echoed through her mind.
Ginny jerked awake. Sweat plastered her nightdress to her body. Her sheets were tangled around her legs. For one terrifying moment, Ginny could not remember where she was. Sill in the Chamber of Secrets, her mind slowly focused on the scarlet hangings around her bed.
She was safe in her fifth year dormitory at Hogwarts. The Chamber was closed and Tom defeated. Ginny forced her breathing and heart rate to return to normal. It had been quite some time since she had dreamed of her first year. She wasn't sure what brought the memories back; perhaps it was the shock of seeing what Tom had turned himself into while at the Department of Mysteries that had caused them to resurface.
Ginny shuddered as she pulled open her bed hangings and climbed out of bed. With a quick glance around the room, she noticed her three other dorm mates were sound asleep. To prevent them from hearing her cries, Ginny learned to put a Silencing Charm around her bed during her second year.
Ginny picked up her wand from the night table. "Lumos," she whispered.
By the faint glow of her wand tip, she picked up her clock. Three o’clock in the morning. Ginny knew by experience that she wouldn't be going back to sleep anytime soon, so she decided to finish her Potions essay in the common room. That would free up the rest of her weekend and leave one less thing to do before Monday. Besides, it was late; no one else would be up.
That decided, Ginny put a dressing gown on, grabbed her book bag and padded silently out of the room towards the common room. She could see the faint orange glow of the fire as she headed down. Ginny shivered as it was chilly on the stairs. Hurrying now, her only thought was to sit and warm herself in front of the fire.
She was so intent at first, she failed to notice a solitary figure sitting on one of the couches facing the fireplace. Ginny gasped in surprise and a pair of haunted green eyes pinned her to the spot.
"H-Harry," Ginny stammered. "I didn't know anyone was down here. Have you been here long?"
Harry gave a slight shrug and turned to stare blankly at the fire. Ginny noticed the drawn expression on Harry's face and the dark circles under his eyes. Was he kept up by nightmares?
Gathering her Gryffindor courage around her like a cloak, Ginny stepped forward and dropped her bag on the table. She saw Harry give a start at the noise, then settle back to brooding silently.
"Couldn't sleep?" Ginny asked with concern.
Harry shrugged again and continued to stare forward seemingly ignoring her.
Ginny let out a frustrated sigh. Trying to get Harry to talk was next to impossible. Even after their shared experience at the Department of Mysteries, she was still considered an outsider to the tight knit trio.
“I couldn't sleep either, too much on my mind I guess. It's only the beginning of term, and I have a lot more homework in one week than almost all of last year! How did you manage? I don't even know how I'll do all my homework, prefect duties and maybe Quidditch..." Ginny trailed off. Harry was no longer staring into the fire, instead he turned and looked at her. Although now instead of haunted, his eyes blazed with anger.
"What do you want Ginny?" Harry ground out.
Taking a deep breath, Ginny stared into Harry's eyes. "I know what it's like to not sleep. I've had my share of nightmares too."
"You have no idea what keeps me up," Harry said tightly. "No one does."
"Why don't you tell me? I'm not as close as Ron and Hermione, but sometimes having a different outlet helps. I want to help Harry," Ginny said earnestly leaning towards him.
"Help?" Harry spat incredulously. "You can't help. Can you bring back Sirius? My parents? How about Cedric? No? Then you can't help me."
Painfully, Ginny felt his words lashing out at her. He had been through so much and felt he had no one to turn to. No one understood what he had gone through. Ginny understood; she just needed to convince him that she did.
"Harry," Ginny began. "I haven't gone through what you have, I know that, but I do know what if fells like... the guilt that eats away at you, never letting go. When I opened the Chamber of Secrets and set the basilisk loose, I could have killed every Muggle born student in the school! It took me ages to even approach Hermione and ask for her forgiveness. She forgave me, but I had to learn to how to forgive myself."
Harry stared at her and Ginny could see the struggle on his face. Hope flared within her. Maybe, he was ready to open up to her.
Her hope was shattered a moment later when Harry's harsh laughter rang out.
"Forgiveness?" he scoffed. "Why are you even bothering? It's not like we're really friends. You had a stupid crush on me, now you want to know my thoughts and feelings? I don't tell Ron or Hermione, my best friends. Why would I tell you?"
Each word slashed at Ginny's heart like a knife. She could feel a wave of sadness rising within her, threatening to drown her. She willfully pushed it back and let another emotion take control -anger.
"You're being a selfish prat! You're not the only one who has felt pain or scared! I was just trying to help, I know...."
"Yeah," said Harry sarcastically. "You know my pain, what I'm going through. Spare me. You're just a silly, little girl who's trying to play grown up."
Stiffening, Ginny recalled Tom calling her a silly, little girl when she lay dying at his feet. Hearing these same words from Harry ripped through her composure. Tears welled in her eyes and, for a split moment, she thought she saw a flash of remorse in Harry's eyes, but as the tears blurred her vision, she was sure she had imagined it.
Angrily wiping her eyes, Ginny glared at Harry. "Someone I once trusted called me that. I was that girl then, I'm not now."
"Ginny..." whispered Harry, his voice hoarse.
"Don't bother, Harry." Ginny cut in. "Just leave me alone, that shouldn't be too hard for you. You've had lots of practice, haven't you?" Harry flinched from the force of her words. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but quickly closed it.
Grabbing her bag, Ginny ran up the stairs to her room. She threw the bag down and collapsed on her bed. As the tears rolled down her face, Ginny cried for who she used to be.