by Miss Snuffles
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am not J.K. Rowling, nor do I own any
part of the WB, Scholastic, or Bloomsbury. If I did, do you think I would be
writing fan fiction? Okay, I probably would, on an island in the sun with the
highest speed Internet access available, and have a heard of 100 beautiful
horses. As such, I am just a lowly student who drives a 1990 car and was just
blessed with wireless. Whoohoo!
A/N: As always, thanks to Elanor Gamgee, my beta, who made sure I didn’t
sound like a sappy romance novel. And to Ginny, who is always my muse.
Cold. Cold stone walls.
Drip. The faint drip of water. Not close, but not far.
It was clammy. Cold, damp, clammy.
I don’t feel—
She hurt. It was dark, cold stone walls, the sound of dripping water.
Goosebumps on her skin. The hard stone floor beneath her, the chill of it
seeping into her aching bones.
I don’t feel
Dark, cold, wet, hurt. So familiar. The heaviness. The
chill. Something moved. A rat? No, too big to be a rat. How could something
move when it was so cold? She had to see, had to know, but it hurt. It hurt in this cold, wet place.
I don’t feel
An icy jolt, a cold that she had only felt once, six
years ago, jerked through her body. Her eyes flew open. She twisted
excruciatingly around, her fearful eyes fastening on the figure moving through
the shadows. Images flashed before her in a swirling myriad.
whispered, fighting the rush of fear with practiced reasoning. She was
dreaming. She’d had this dream before. Dark, cold chamber. Cloaked figure in
the black shadows. She could fight these dreams now, fight them and awake with
a serene acceptance. At breakfast she would quietly tell Harry of her victory,
and he would smile warmly as he always did. He never tired of it.
I don’t feel that way about you.
Green eyes, fierce, dark. The hunched-back witch. The
starry night sky, the silver grass. Hagrid’s Cabin. The shout. The
It wasn’t a dream.
Ginny sucked in a gasping breath, her stomach and heart
turning to ice as she stared at the moving, hunched figure skulking in the
blackness just beyond. She wasn’t dreaming. She was in a chamber. She’d been
Stunned. She wasn’t in the Chamber of Secrets, and that wasn’t Tom Riddle
lurking, ready to take her soul.
was a high cough of uncertainty. Ginny stared, her heart caught between
erratically pounding in her chest and simply
stopping. The figure moved closer, skittishly, as if fearing an attack. In
the inky glum, she could discern a lumpy sort of man in ill-fitting, tattered
robes. As he shuffled towards her, a dim, weak yellow light seeped through the
blackness, and glinted off his hand.
It was silver. Even in the poor light, it emanated a
malevolent luster that caused Ginny to shrink back from the otherwise
“Scabbers.” Ginny shuddered, staring up at the bald,
diminished man staring down at her, a look of perpetual panic and fear pressed
into his pale face. She couldn’t hide her contempt, anger, and revulsion.
She’d never seen Peter Pettigrew before.
Pettigrew said nothing, but shuffled and hoisted a small,
dingy bucket closer to Ginny. She tried to shrink away, pressing against the
cold, damp stone wall, and he hesitated, his dark, beady eyes shining wetly in
the pale murky light.
“Y-you m-must—you must d-dr-drink,” he said in a
tremulous, frightened voice that echoed strangely in the chill. He dipped a
small cup into the bucket, making tiny, sloshing noises that seemed to converse
with the steady, distant drip of water. Trembling, Pettigrew offered the cup to
Nothing registered, nothing but the icy, painful presence
of the wall at her back, the ache in her bones, and the overwhelming fear
taking hold. She was kidnapped, captured by Death Eaters. Here was Ron’s pet
rat, Scabbers, the one who had slept on her pillow when Ron had unconsciously
kicked him off the bed, the one who had betrayed Harry’s parents, framed Sirius
Black, and had taken Harry’s blood to resurrect Voldemort.
“Drink, please,” said Pettigrew in his tiny, pleading voice.
“It will help, Ginny—”
“Don’t call me that!” she shrieked.
Pettigrew flinched, and Ginny sucked in another deep
breath. She was trembling, shaking uncontrollably, and it wasn’t from the cold
penetrating her body.
she hissed, gasping with each syllable. “How—how?—”
began, but then he closed his thin mouth and shook his head. Something passed
across his rat-like face, but he ducked his head into the darkness. “You must
drink . . . to keep your strength up,” he said softly, sympathetically.
Without meeting her furious, wild gaze, he rested the cup on the floor beside
her and withdrew into the darkness. She heard a door open and close with a
quiet but heavy groan, and then the solid, final clamp of an iron lock. The
faintest sound of a spell floated back through the glum.
Silence pressed in.
Then Ginny’s breath came in short, loud gasps that
pounced off the stone. Panic and fear gripped her, seeming to shut out the
weak, stained light hovering somewhere behind all the blackness. The desperate
need to stay calm and think rationally slipped away the moment she tried to
assert herself. The ache in her bones from being Stunned, the swirling images
of her last memories, and the piercing cold wrapped around her like a serpent
ready to strike. Serpents . . . Tom Riddle . . .Harry . . .
Her frantic gasps elevated to racking sobs. The cup of
water was knocked over, and cold water splashed onto her leg. It ran warmly
and soothingly against her freezing thigh, trickling like a small, thin stream
down her leg. No, not a stream. A snake. It slithered against her gooseflesh
skin, deceptively soothing.
Ginny let out a cry and rolled away, scraping her cheek
against the rough stone. Physical, stinging pain sliced through the
overwhelming panic that had seized her. She sobbed and felt the welcome of
warm tears falling down her cheeks, trailing slowly but steadily down her chin
My dressing gown, she thought suddenly. My dressing gown is gone.
That was why it was so cold. Her nightgown was thin
cotton. Her arms were bare. Her winter gown had shredded by a new kitten, and
she’d had no choice but to wear her summer gown.
Shivering, she hugged herself, curling up into a small
ball against the wall. The hysteria was fading. She wasn’t sobbing or
“Oh, Harry,” she whispered into the murky chamber. She
squeezed her eyes shut to ward off a deep agony that was swimming to the
surface. Silent tears poured freely down her cheeks, pooling under her head
onto the stone floor. Her grazed cheek burned, but she didn’t care. All she
could see, feel, were those burning green eyes, the faint brush of his breath
as he muttered with such quiet ferocity and determination what she had always
believed true, but dared hope not.
How long had it been? Hours? Days? The memory was her
last and felt excruciatingly fresh. The cold darkness seemed to freeze the
moment, welcome it, and torture her with it.
It wasn’t late, but it felt late. The common room seemed to
empty so much more quickly than before. Ginny sighed as she gazed around the
at the squashy chairs and sofas, the blazing fireplace, and the few students
doing homework, sitting by the fire reading, or talking in somber, quiet
tones. She thought wistfully of the days when Fred and George had filled the circular Gryffindor
Tower with loud bangs and raucous laughter. Or when three games of Exploding
Snap would erupt simultaneously and fill the room with smoke. Or all-night
celebrations when Gryffindor
steamrollered another House in Quidditch—
Another sigh echoed Ginny’s, and she turned away from the
nearly empty, cheerless common room and gazed at Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Ron
had fallen asleep with his head buried in the crook of his arm, the other arm
stretched across his enormous essay, hand still clenched around his quill
dipped in the almost empty ink bottle. Hermione was blinking blearily at her
own Ancient Runes project, completely unaware of an unconscious Ron.
Only Harry seemed to be awake, but his homework was the
least completed. Ginny had been aware of his restlessness all night, but had
made no comment except for an understanding, small smile every now and then.
Instead of smiling, however reluctantly, back as he usually did, he only
frowned and turned his troubled gaze elsewhere. He seemed particularly moody
and worried tonight, the furrow of his brow deeper than usual. Yet Ginny could
detect what exactly it was now. She’d grown accustomed to his moods, and could
usually decipher his thoughts almost before he could. Not that he was aware of
She could never confess to Harry how much she’d studied
him over the years.
Yet she had a feeling, and it gnawed away at her all
night. All day.
Even as Harry ducked his head and pretended to look up a
reference in his History of Magic text, Ginny felt her stomach twist
nauseatingly. Her quill started to tremble again, causing her neat, careful
penmanship to scraggle. She tried to breathe normally and keep her blood from
racing to her head, but it was difficult. Subconsciously, her fingertips
touched her lips, where she’d felt his almost twenty-four hours ago.
Harry set down his quill. “Ginny,” he said quietly, a
strained gravelly tone.
She jerked, her heart hammering against her chest. He
was looking at her, and then away. He had been doing that all day, but it
wasn’t giving her thrills as it had before when he had grown nervous around her. A deep sense of
foreboding wrapped around her thundering heart as he raked a hand through his
jet black hair.
“I—I have to talk to you.” Harry spoke quietly, so
quietly that Ginny wouldn’t have heard him if not for the decisive, determined
shortness of his words.
She nodded, unable to speak as Harry stood up and edged
towards one of the empty corners of the common room. No one noticed as Ginny
shakily rose from her chair, not even Hermione, who was muttering incoherently
to herself. Somehow she reached Harry.
“Ginny.” He was refusing to completely meet her gaze,
and seemed to be collecting himself. Ginny felt as if someone had opened a
window to let in the chilly first of November air.
“Harry,” she said before she realized she’d opened her
mouth. “Tell me what’s wrong.” She instinctively reached for his hands, which
she’d held and squeezed before, but he moved them nervously out of her reach.
He finally met her gaze, and she gasped inaudibly. Those
brilliant green eyes that always managed to betray Harry’s carefully guarded
expressions burned fiercely with something Ginny had never witnessed before.
She shrank back, almost with fear, but quickly collected herself. This was
Harry. He’d been her friend for three years now. And he’d kissed her last
“Ginny,” he said quietly, calculatingly steady. “I need
to talk to you about . . . about last night.” There. Something else flicked
behind those broiling depths. His voice hitched slightly.
Ginny felt her chest constrict, but her heart seemed to
fight it. Harry didn’t move his gaze, but continued to stare down at her
“It was a mistake.”
“I didn’t mean—I—honestly—it was an accident. I don’t
know what came over me.”
Ginny heard the words perfectly, but they weren’t
registering. It was as if her ears had detached themselves from her brain.
She stared disbelievingly at Harry, yet deep down, amongst the rising emotion,
she understood perfectly. Had always understood, had always known.
“Ginny,” Harry said, a desperate rasp coming into his
intensely low voice. “I’m really sorry—I just—I don’t—It was a mistake. I
must of have too much butterbeer or something. Please, let’s—can we just
forget it ever happened?”
“You . . . kissed me . . .” she heard herself say
“I . . . I know.”
“But you didn’t mean it.”
A distant roaring . . . Ginny felt dizzy and
lightheaded. Harry seemed to sway sickeningly before her, as if on a tossing
sea. He was gazing at her desperately, fearfully. Guilt was written plainly
across his pale but flushed face. Guilt for having kissed her last night. For
brushing his lips at the corner of her mouth, hesitating, and then slowly
meeting her own perfectly still lips . . .
“Right,” she choked. “Right. An accident.”
“Yes,” said Harry slowly, deliberately, as if analyzing
the small word. “An accident. Please, let’s forget about it.”
“You don’t . . .you don’t . . .” She couldn’t make
herself say it. Didn’t want to see it in his beautiful eyes, or watch his
mouth, the mouth she’d finally felt against hers, move carefully to form the
“No.” It was raspy, husky, incredibly low and
reverberating through her core. “No, Ginny, I don’t . . . I don’t feel that
way about . . . about you.”
“I don’t believe you,” she almost sobbed. She didn’t
think he heard her, but he breathed in sharply, causing her to look up at him.
He could never lie to her face, never look her directly in the eye and lie.
“Look at me, Harry,” she said quietly, determinedly, matching his own gaze.
“Look at me and say it.”
Harry opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Ginny
felt triumph and relief rush through her, making her knees shake, but then that
ferocity overwhelmed the violent swirl of indeterminable emotions in his gaze,
and she felt an icy cold hand clamp over her heart.
“Ginny.” He was looking directly into her eyes, into her
soul. Leaving no doubt. “I don’t feel that way about you. You are my friend.”
It was final. Ginny had spent six
years of her life knowing Harry Potter would never love her, but there had been
hope. In his gazes before he realized she had noticed. She must have imagined
it. Somehow, she was able to rectify herself before complete and utter
“I’m sorry, Ginny.” And he sounded sorry. Indescribably
“I know.” So he knew how she felt, knew how deeply she
loved him. And yet he couldn’t love her back. Not more than as a friend.
“Are you—are you all right?” He couldn’t hide his
concern or guilt. She could almost feel his impulse to embrace her, comfort
her, but could not because he’d just inflicted the deepest, cruelest injury
upon her. And it was hurting him. “Ginny?”
“Please, Harry,” she somehow managed to choke out. “I
just need to be alone.”
He nodded wordlessly. She sensed him nodding, watched
the faintest twitch of his robes as he shifted. Then he moved away, back
towards the table. She watched his retreating back. Hermione was asleep now,
too, her mass of wild curls spreading all over the table. It seemed as if
fiery ribbons had been woven into the mass, and Ginny realized with detached
amusement that Ron’s head had been devoured by his girlfriend’s curls.
Harry slowly, mechanically gathered his books. He turned
towards the spiraling staircase, but caught Ginny’s gaze. From across the
common room she could read the intense, fiery pain in his gaze, but then an
emotionless mask fell over him, and he turned abruptly.
She watched him disappear up the stairs.
With a sharp gasp, she whirled around and went out the