Molly fusses, and
her husband and children let her because they all know that it’s pointless to
try to stop Molly when she’s determined to fuss. Only Fred objects when Ginny’s
portion of dessert is significantly larger than anyone else’s, but Molly and Arthur
give him reproachful looks, George, Ron, and even Percy kick his ankles under
the table, and he leaves off when Ginny only stabs at her pudding morosely with
After supper, Molly
and Arthur announce that they are going to have a Talk, which means that all
their children are to go to their bedrooms and not come back down until morning
unless there is an Emergency. This they do with minimal grumbling, and before
long Ginny finds herself alone in her own bedroom.
It’s smaller than
she remembers it being, and as the youngest of seven her bedroom had been small
to begin with. She turns on all the lights and sits on the edge of her bed, and
clasps her hands tightly in her lap. She looks at the bare walls, the empty
bookcases, and the empty wardrobe. Her posters, books, and clothes are in her
Hogwarts trunk, which her father has left at the foot of her bed, but she does
not move to open it and will not until tomorrow, when there’s daylight.
It was a small, thin book with a black leather cover that was
shriveled at the corners. In faded gold leaf was the year “1942”, and on the
first page, in smudged black ink, was the name “T. M. Riddle”. The other pages
Ginny squeezes her
fingers until the tips turn purplish-red and begin to tingle.
She wrote, with a flourish, “Ginevra Molly Weasley”, and
watched in stunned silence as the words seemed to sink into the paper and
disappear, leaving it blank once more. “Umm,” she said, looking around, but she
was alone in the dorm. “Um,” she said, turning back to the book. “Well, that’s
odd.” As she put the tip of her quill back to the paper, words suddenly
appeared in a handwriting that was very definitely not Ginny’s.
“Hello, Ginevra Molly Weasley. My name is Tom Riddle.”
Ginny jumps as
someone raps softly on her door.
“I’m starkers!” she
squeaks. “Don’t come in!”
“Um, all right,”
says Ron, his voice muffled by the door. “Just wanted to make sure you were all
right. Are you all right?”
“Oh, fine,” she
bubbles, and feels her cheeks burn. Tears sting her eyes, but she can’t seem to
unclasp her hands to brush them away. She can pour out her heart to the most
evil Dark wizard who ever lived, but she can’t tell her older, well-meaning
brother anything. “I’m fine, really. I mean, I will be.”
She hears Ron shuffle
his feet, like he’s reluctant to leave. Thank you for coming
to get me, is what she wants to say, but when she
opens her mouth again, all that comes out is a wheezy sigh.
“All right,” Ron
says at last. “I’m going to bed, now. If you want – I don’t know. Anything.
Just… G’night, Gin.”
She hears his heavy
footsteps echo along the corridor.
At some point she
does dress for bed and crawl under the covers, though she doesn’t remember
doing it. She’s feigning sleep – with the lights on – when her parents come in
to check on her. She sighs and makes the requisite unconscious twitches when
her mum strokes her hair and kisses her forehead.
“She’ll be all right,” she hears her dad
murmur, then feels his lips on her forehead. “She’s young – and she’s a Weasley.
We won’t let this hurt her. Come on, love. Let her sleep. It’s the best thing
for her now.”
But he is wrong.
A few hours later,
still unable to sleep, Ginny throws back her covers and gets out of bed. The
lights are still on, but they don’t chase away the darkness; they only turn the
objects in her room into unfamiliar, shadow-steeped things. She pulls on her
jeans, jumper, and trainers, and goes downstairs.
The Burrow is quiet
except for the occasional muffled snore as she passes bedrooms, the banging of
the ghoul on the pipes in the attic, and the ticking of the grandfather clock
in the living room. She glances at the clock as she makes her way to the front
door and notes to her relief that its hands pointed toward work
(for Bill and Charlie) and home (for everyone else). Ginny
wondered which her parents had noticed first, her own hand pointing toward mortal peril
or Dumbledore’s summons to Hogwarts.
She supposed it did
not matter. Most things ceased to matter when she was aloft. She walks to shed,
unlocks it, and fumbles in the dark until she finds someone’s old broom; the
stickers on the handle tell her it was George’s. She mounts it.
She’s good at
flying. Madam Hooch told her she has a knack for it – and who could forget the
looks on the Slytherins’ faces when she said that? But of course Ginny is good;
she practiced all of last year, on her brothers’ old brooms, while they were
away at school. She can keep her balance, she can kick-off smoothly, she can
even control the broom with her knees so her hands are free for hitting
Quaffles and catching Snitches.
She likes the summer
air rushing up her neck and tossing back her hair. She likes holding out her
hands as she rises, and flexing her fingers like they’re griffon feathers. She
likes seeing the stars through her spread fingers and cupping her hand around
the bright, swollen moon.
There are shadows here, too, cast by the
Burrow and the trees in the moonlight, but she does not fear them. They are no
walls confining her, and the roaring of the wind in her ears drowns the
whispering in her head.
I am T—
I am Ginny! she thinks, wants
to scream. You’re not dead, but you don’t have a body, and you can’t
control me anymore!
She was very high,
now, well above the Burrow and the trees. It all looks so small from where she
poises and it occurs to her with a pang that she may never fit back into her
old life. There are her parents and brothers, safe in their beds and their
dreams, and here she is, clinging to a broomstick with her knobby knees and her
wind-chapped hands and she can’t sleep because she is afraid of what she will
She hovers, not
realizing – she will not realize this until much later – that there is room
enough in the world for everything she feels, that the stars are strewn high above
her, and that she has the strength and the will to ascend.