I cast your diary away some time ago. I got so afraid that I couldn’t help myself, but now something has happened and I didn’t know who else to turn to, and it can’t possibly have been you that did all these things, can it? Oh, I hope you’re still here, that you’ll still listen.
I sent Harry a Valentine today, sung by a horrid, fat little cupid. I made up a poem…oh, Tom, I’m so humiliated I just don’t know what I’ll do! Harry was embarrassed and I just know he knows it’s from me, and to him I’m just some stupid first-year. I know now he’ll never love me and I feel like my heart is breaking.
Ginny set her quill down on the stone floor beside her and waited anxiously for a response. She knew that Harry would not return to his dormitory for hours, and she had been so careful when she took the diary that she was sure he wouldn’t miss it, but she was anxious to return it all the same…remembering her father’s warnings, she grew nervous once again, but then, who else could she turn to? The boy called Tom Riddle was so caring, so understanding of everything that was happening to her, and she felt silly for throwing his diary away. It was simply ludicrous to think that the diary had anything to do with anything…after all, he was just a memory of a boy who had come to Hogwarts long before she had.
Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the familiar handwriting begin to appear on the page.
I have missed our chats, Ginny. I am so glad you have returned. It does get awfully lonely with no one to talk to.
She thought for a moment before she responded.
I’ve missed talking to you too, Tom. No one understands me like you do. I’m so embarrassed! He must think I’m so stupid, mustn’t he?
The scrawled reply came almost immediately.
His indifference is hurtful, is it not? I know, Ginevra, for I too have been hurt by indifference. How could he not notice one as beautiful as you? How could he not appreciate your love for him?
With a pang, Ginny knew that Tom understood exactly how she felt. How could she have been so stupid?
You’re exactly right, Tom. It would be easier if he hated me, but he just doesn’t even know I exist. It’s like I’m nothing.
Tears were beginning to pool in her eyes, blurring the response of the only dependable friend she had.
You are not nothing, Ginevra Weasley. You are everything. Can you understand how special you have become to me in the past months? How much I’ve missed you? I would very much like to meet you…if you would consent.
Her heart skipped a beat. Meet her? Whatever could he mean? Whatever else was true or untrue about him, the fact was that he was just a memory trapped in the pages of an old diary…just words on a page. How could they ever meet?
How could that be, Tom?
Her eyes dried with the prospect of meeting her friend. Could she really do it? Did she dare? What if he was responsible for the strange things that had been happening to her? She dismissed that thought as his next words appeared.
I am still only a memory, but there is a way we could meet if you would come inside the diary with me.
Ginny gasped and then covered her mouth, hoping no one had heard her.
Come into the diary? How could I?
I would love to meet you, Tom.
She wrote the last in a shaky hand, her father’s warnings once again at the forefront of her mind. What if he got her in there and never let her out? How could she take such a risk?
All at once, though, she made up her mind to do it. Who would even miss her if she was gone? She was just another Weasley, the youngest, the stupidest…and at that moment, she felt that if Harry didn’t want her, life simply wasn’t worth living. Why not meet the one person who had shown her any true affection since she came to school?
As this last thought soared through her mind, she was suddenly blinded by a flash of white light, and she felt herself being pulled down…down…down…it seemed like forever before the light was gone and she was standing firmly in a small, dimly lit chamber not unlike the one in which she had been hiding. She looked around uncertainly.
“Tom?” she called, her voice echoing through a chamber that seemed to be much larger than she had originally thought.
“I am here,” whispered a voice that chilled her to her very bones. “I am right here with you.”
* * *
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses…
She looked around for the source of the voice, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness around her. She was in a damp dungeon chamber, a place in which she had never set foot, but she was certain she was still somewhere inside the castle.
“Tom?” she called again, a thrill of fear coursing through her. “Where are you?”
Once again, her voice echoed off of stone walls lined with the mosses and mildews of great age and depth.
“I am here,” the voice, Tom’s voice, replied, and he finally appeared. When she saw him, Ginny breathed a small sigh of relief. He was a perfectly normal-looking Hogwarts boy, handsome and very tall. She began to relax, wondering how she ever could have suspected that this boy’s diary had anything to do with her problems.
“Hello,” Ginny replied, not knowing what else to say. It was all so surreal, the dark stone walls, the echoing voices, the damp chill…could she be dreaming?
“You are not dreaming, Ginevra,” Tom said softly, correctly interpreting her thoughts. “You are inside one of my memories, and it is only now that I have become strong enough to meet you here. I have waited so long for this moment.”
Something in his voice caused Ginny to shiver at his words even as she advanced toward him like one in a dream.
“Will you come with me?” Tom asked, reaching out to take her hand. His touch was cool but not unnaturally so; she had expected him to somehow feel less…human.
“Yes,” Ginny whispered, feeling as though she had been placed under some kind of a spell. She could not even think about refusing him.
* * *
Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it - tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night…
Tom led her deeper into the chamber, stopping every now and again to look at her, his eyes pools of limpid desire and seduction. Ginny had never felt the way he was making her feel. Every time he looked at her, she was chilled, but not unpleasantly. She had never had a boy look at her this way before.
“It’s so dark down here, Tom,” Ginny said, shivering a little as they stopped in a round, stone chamber that she guessed was miles beneath the school, or perhaps the lake.
“Do not be afraid of the darkness,” he whispered. “The darkness hides that which we would rather not see, hides that indifference which hurts our hearts so.”
At the thought of Harry, Ginny’s eyes filled with tears once again. She had been silly to suppose that he would ever want her. She was just dumb, stupid, ugly Ginevra Weasley, an eleven-year-old little girl. Why would Harry, who was so handsome and famous, want her? Why would anyone?
“Do not think of him,” Tom ordered, and though his voice was still soft, the barest note of impatience now laced it dangerously. “Think of me and only me, and of this place where I have brought you. If you do not, it will all fade.”
Nodding resolutely, Ginny looked around her, committing every nook and cranny of the room to her memory.
Tom watched her intensely as she steeled her own resolve and looked around. When he knew she had cleared her mind of all thoughts of Harry Potter, he reached up and touched her cheek.
“Here, no one will ever hurt you, Ginevra,” he said gently, trailing his fingers down her young neck so that she trembled involuntarily. “Here, you are immortal, just as I am.”
“I can’t stay, Tom,” she whispered. “They’ll miss me.”
“There, you are insignificant,” Tom answered with the slightest bit of malice. “No one wants you; you told me that yourself. Here, you are cherished. Why would you want to go back?” The malice left his voice as he caressed her young cheek again.
Ginny leaned into his caress, reveling at the soft touch of his hand. She had never known it could make her feel so wonderful to be touched like this. At the age of eleven, she was just starting to notice boys…she had never had a boyfriend, and she wondered briefly if this was what it felt like.
The darkness surrounded them like a blanket as he led her yet deeper underground, but she no longer minded it…it did seem as though nothing could hurt her down here…and down here, she didn’t have to face the truth…the fact that the one boy she would have given anything to be noticed by didn’t even know she existed.
* * *
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar…
And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before
They finally reached their destination: a small, circular room, black as pitch with darkness only pierced by the feeble light of two black candles situated on a small pewter table.
“This is where I have always come for refuge,” Tom said, drinking in Ginny’s astonished gaze greedily. She had such spirit for one so young; he wondered where she had gotten it. He had to remind himself that the time had not yet come to consume her completely.
“It’s beautiful,” Ginny whispered. As her eyes adjusted to the light of the candles, she let them linger on the dark tapestries, the velvet cushions, the dark wood and pewter appointments. Who would have thought that such a room could exist so far underground?
“It could be yours,” Tom said softly, squeezing her hand. “Here, you can be who you were truly born to be, Ginevra Weasley. Here, no one would dare to harm you. Whatever you could imagine would be yours. Fame, wealth, power…all you have to do is tell me what you want, and I will make it so.”
* * *
Softly, deftly darkness shall caress you
Hear it, feel it secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night
Tom led Ginny to a nest of dark velvet cushions and settled her quietly and comfortably in them. He noticed that her young face held the undeniable expression of temptation, and he knew just what she must be thinking.
“Here, there will be none to overshadow you,” he whispered. “You will have everything, be everything, and you will never be made to feel unwanted if only you will stay.”
“I can’t,” Ginny replied, but he could hear the waver in her voice.
“Close your eyes,” he whispered, his warm breath caressing her cheek. She could not help but notice that he seemed to be becoming more real every moment.
Obediently, Ginny closed her eyes, shutting out what little light existed in the room.
* * *
Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation…
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power which you know you cannot fight
The power of the music of the night
Ginny gasped as she felt his hand on her face once again, trailing down her neck and across her shoulders, but this time she did not enjoy it. If she had been older and more sophisticated, she would have realized that his touch had become territorial, almost predatory, but in her young mind, all she knew was that she didn’t like it anymore.
“Tom,” she whispered.
“Let go, Ginevra,” he breathed. “It is Valentine’s Day, a day meant for love…and I do love you and need you so very much.” He kissed her cheek then, and moved down to give her the first-ever kiss on her lips.
Before he could give her that kiss, however, she pulled back, fighting against the temptation to stay with all of her mind. He did not love her. He was using her…she knew it. Why would anyone love her?
It was as if a spell had been lifted from her, and suddenly Ginny saw the situation for what it really was. What had come over her?
“Let me go, Tom,” she said, strength returning to her voice as she came back to herself.
“You are like me, Ginevra,” Tom spat back. “You want the darkness, you long for the darkness. You will never be happy in that world; a world in which you are nothing but a stupid little girl would loves a stupid little boy who will never love her back. I can give you everything you need. You know you want it. You want everything I have to give.”
Ginny drew back from him, suddenly more afraid than she had ever been. Now she knew, knew without the slightest doubt, that he was the one who had been using her all along. He was the evil one…and she had been so tempted to stay with him.
“No, Tom,” she said, her voice shaking and high with fear. “No! I don’t want it! I want my family!”
“Them?” Tom sneered, all pretenses of tenderness gone. “Those poor, blundering blood traitors?”
“I’d rather have my family than all of your darkness, Tom,” Ginny shot back, still fearfully but with evidence of the Weasley temper.
As Tom’s face, which she had at first thought to be handsome, contorted into a sneer of rage, Ginny felt herself becoming disconnected with the dream, and again, she was falling…down…down…down…
* * *
The memory of Tom Riddle watched the little girl fade into nothing, but he was not sorry. Certainly, seducing one so young and pure into the darkness would have been enjoyable, but he did not need her to agree in order to use her. He focused his thoughts once again on her, planting his memory firmly into her mind until she was no more than a puppet to him.
Under his direction, Ginny snuck back into the boys’ dormitory and replaced the diary carefully, leaving no sign that she had ever been there, and before he left her, he planted one thought into her head, a thought that would haunt her for many years to come.
“You will rue the day you refused me, Ginevra Weasley.”