He was messing with her. He had to be. There was no rational explanation for Tom's behavior. He was candid with her about his family on Halloween, he occasionally engaged in little chats, he saved her from Malfoy… he kissed her.
He kissed you.
"No he didn't," Ginny told her inner voice.
He pressed his lips on you. That's a kiss.
"He put his lips on my head. That's not a kiss."
Just because it wasn't on your lips, that doesn't make it any less of a kiss…
"Will you shut up already? Tom did not kiss me."
Then what would you call what he did?
"…a manipulative peck on the head?"
"Not a kiss."
Kiss. Tom Riddle kissed you.
"No, he didn't! He was probably just trying to piss off Malfoy."
…by kissing you after Malfoy left? That doesn't make sense.
"Augh!" she shouted. Her inner voice was right. Tom had kissed her on the head. The burning question was 'why?' Why would Lord Voldemort show any affection to little Ginevra Weasley, a witch with no extraordinary power? Why would an attractive man like Tom pay any attention to plain old Ginny? Why, why, why?
The only conclusion to which she could come was manipulation of some sort. The Tom she knew had employed charm and flirtation to use her once before, but she was a ready-made tool for that situation. She was a lonely little girl at a new school who needed a friend, and he was the proverbial shoulder to cry on. He needed a vessel. The puzzle pieces weren't that hard to match. What did Tom hope to gain from her now by means of wit? He had almost everything. He had most of the world catering to his whims. What did she have to offer? Ginny could think of nothing. The only logical assumption was that Tom was confusing her for his own entertainment. Right?
"Okay, let's assume that everything he's said is true," Ginny reasoned aloud. "He didn't have a family and he likes you." She snorted. "Well, maybe the first bit could be true, but not the second bit. Someone who likes you doesn't behave that way. You don't hold hostage the people you like. You don't claim ownership over people you like. You don't- okay, well, you do kiss people you like, but not the way Tom did. I don't know if that even counts as a kiss."
I thought we went over this.
"Oh, shut up," she snapped at herself. "And what's with me 'belonging' to him or whatever he said? I don't belong to anyone, least of all him. He could have me locked in a dungeon and brand his initials on me and I still wouldn't be his in any way. He's crazy." She closed her eyes, dreaming of sleep. "I was his, though," she whispered. "I was. I did whatever he wanted. People almost died because he owned me." Tears prickled the corners of her eyes; she was thoroughly disgusted with herself.
In her dreams she saw a lot of things that she saw when she was eleven, which is to say, very little. As a child possessed, her memories often consisted of only colors and the odd vivid image or sound. As a woman in chains, that's what her mind showed her. She dreamed of hissing mixed with short shrieks, fuzzy white spots and green haze, and a voice more clear than any other sound. It had been a beacon into forgetfulness; now the sound woke her like a church bell at a funeral.
She sat bolt upright, forehead smeared with sweat, and looked around her. Everything was blue, and that disturbed Ginny now. She had just seen piercing blue eyes tell her in no uncertain terms that she was to strangle those roosters this instant. She was relieved to see that there were no feathers anywhere near her. She was seventeen, not eleven. Why do I still have these nightmares?
Restlessly she wandered into her toilet. She splashed water on her face and ran a comb through her red tangles. Ginny braced her arms on the sink and had a staring competition with her reflection. The woman on the other side of the glass won, Ginny decided. She could have been pretty, that woman, if circumstance had spared her. If she hadn't said that one stupid word, this woman would be beautiful. If she hadn't said… okay. "Okay, Tom," the little girl had written. That was when the wan look graced the countenance and the dark circles pooled beneath the eyes. It wasn't when Ginny said "Voldemort" that the world began to spin; the cogs and wheels had been set in motion long before that.
Ginny shook her head. That was over, gone. It couldn't be fixed. Right?
For some reason, chatter echoed off of the walls as Ginny made her way to breakfast. She cocked her head and tried to listen to the loudest voices as she walked.
"…because it isn't about your comfort. Yet you question."
"Intolerable!" rang the unmistakable accent of de Danann. "I have no desire to hear these children prattle on."
"You would do well to keep your opinions in your head where they belong. That way the Dark Lord can only hear them if he so wishes," said the strong voice of the mysteriously rational Death Eater. She flourished past Ginny with nothing but a curt nod.
Ginny walked slowly into the dining hall. She turned to de Danann curiously. "M. de Danann," she began slowly, "did I hear her right?"
"You did, Ginny!" Luna stood before her wearing the largest grin she had ever seen. "You-Know-Who decided we may talk to each other." She pulled Ginny aside. "That frizzy man isn't too happy about it, though."
"I can tell," Ginny marveled. "Can we pick where we sit, too?"
"No," Luna sighed dreamily. "One step at a time, I suppose."
Despite having permission to speak to others, Ginny couldn't have a conversation. Karen, the girl to her left, only spoke German, and the girl to her right (whose name she still didn't know) only spoke Korean. The din of excitement cancelled her ability to talk to anyone more than one seat away from hers. Some privilege. I don't even get to exercise it. She sighed and picked at her sprouts.
She decided to wait until most people left before rising; that way she could speak with her friends, or even make new friends (who spoke English). Unfortunately, many others had the same idea. She frowned slightly and made her way back to her room.
Tom was standing in the middle of her bedroom, hands placidly folded behind his back. He smiled at the sight of her. "Fancy meeting you here, little one!"
"Don't be stupid, Tom," Ginny replied. "It's my room."
A light sparked in his deep blue eyes. "And here I thought I was being cheerful."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "What is it you want, Tom?"
"Just a bit of conversation with my little Ginny."
"I'm not your anything," Ginny scornfully replied. "And I'm certainly not going to be one of your… pureblood baby machines. I'd sooner be tortured."
Tom smirked. "It is fortunate, then, that I don't want you to be a- what did you call it?- baby machine."
She looked at him sharply. "Then what was the deal with Malfoy?"
"Do sit down, Ginny," Tom insisted politely. "You needn't be on edge."
She sat. "You didn't answer my question."
"I don't have to; you forget to whom you're speaking. At any rate, it looked like I was saving you from that sycophant. You should be grateful."
She locked eyes with him and flushed slightly. "I'm grateful; is that what you wanted to hear? Will you be leaving now?"
"No, no, sweet Ginny," he answered. "I was wondering if you thought about what I said."
Ginny was silent. She had been too busy arguing with herself to consider his political philosophies. Looking at the floor, she tried to divert the subject. "Why did you stop Malfoy?" she whispered.
"I'll take that as a no," Tom stated irritably. The familiar cold mask overtook his face. "Don't beat around the bush. You know the rules: promptly answer any question I ask. Shall I change my mind about you, then? Shall I give you over to Draco Malfoy? Surely you heard him trying to cast the Imperius curse on you. Now stop being a child and answer me."
"No, Tom," she snapped. "No, I didn't think about your speech. I had other things on my mind."
"What other things?" he pressed. When she hesitated, he took a fistful of her hair and forced her to look him in the face.
"Ow! Son of a bitch… That hurt, Tom!" The fire his gaze held told her that pain had been his intended result and that he was ready to inflict more of it. "I was thinking about other things you said, okay?"
He released her hair and gently patted her on the head. "Won't you elaborate, my dear?"
"I don't exactly have a choice," she sighed.
"No, but I do so love it when you have fits of temper. Now, continue…"
Yeah, it's a weird place to stop. The next chapter title is 'Lecture', but I felt that I've been dragging my heels enough and needed to post something, hence the beginning of the lecture. It's not one of my best (do you know how hard it was to find 'K' words that fit this story??), but I ask your forgiveness. I don't really have time to work on my fiction at the mo. My Real Life Work should be finished by mid-February; then this girl will be able to have some fun. Please drop a review. Y'all have left more than a hundred so far O_O Thanks so much.
Oh, NB: Something is wrong with my e-mail. If I didn't respond to a review I probably didn't get it or it was auto-sent to my spam folder. Sorry.