I'm writing to let you know that I am, for the most part, okay. I'm not what you'd call 'happy', but I'm being taken care of. I'm really very lucky that I'm even allowed to write to you. This letter was my Christmas present.
I don't know where I am. I live in a big building with a bunch of people my age. Luna and Neville are here. So are the Patil twins. Draco Malfoy is here, too, but I wish he wasn't. I recognize some people from Hogwarts but can't remember all of their names. A lot of other countries and schools are represented here. There are a lot of kids who can't speak English.
When the weather is nice, we get to go outside sometimes. There's not a whole lot of space, but we get to stretch our legs. Better than nothing, right?
To mum: I'm sorry that the last time I saw you we had a fight, especially about something so stupid. My hair is even longer now, so more of it would be in my food than before.
To Percy: Please be good to Mum. You were gone for so long and we only just got you back. You're the oldest one there now, so help as much as you can.
To His Holey-ness: Don't forget Fred's sacrifice. You were so down. I hope you're not still that way. Keep Fred in your heart and act how you would if he was still with us. We all need that.
To Ron: Smile. Please smile. Don't just keep reading that damn book (never thought I'd have to say that to you!). Do what you need to do, and do it happily if you can.
I've been told by a somewhat reliable source that Charlie, Bill, and Fleur are okay. I hope that's true. I like to think it's true. I do think it's true. I've also been told that you're safe as long as you don't break His laws. That means you can peel potatoes the normal way, Mum!
I have a million questions for you but I obviously can't ask them because I won't get any return post. I'm glad I can write you at all. I hope this letter gives you some peace of mind. There's not much more to say. I love you all and hope you're okay.
"Not bad," Tom mused as he read Ginny's letter to her family. "Vague enough: no mention of the ocean, no descriptive details, no names except ones they already know. Ah, and I'm briefly mentioned, and with a capital letter. I'm touched, little Ginny. I'm chuffed to hear that you find me to be 'somewhat reliable'."
"I don't trust you as far as I could throw you," Ginny snapped, "but for some reason, only god knows why, I believe some of the things you say."
"It's good that you don't put your trust in me. Only a fool would."
"So your Death Eaters are fools?" she challenged.
"Many of them, yes. They're afraid of my power, so they obey. I'm God to them; soon I'll be God to the whole world."
"You're a megalomaniac," Ginny muttered.
"What was that?" Tom asked in a mocking voice. "You don't want your letter sent?" His blue eyes pierced her, made her shudder. She was suddenly reminded of the reason she hated the color.
"I'm sorry, Tom," she quickly said, wringing her hands in nervousness. Yeah, sorry I said it out loud.
"You don't mean it," he smirked, gently folding the parchment with his sinewy fingers. "I don't care. I prefer it when you speak your mind."
"Why?" Ginny asked, eyes narrowed in both anger and confusion. "You get violent and unhappy sometimes if you don't like what you hear."
"You aren't as afraid of me as most. That doesn't always work in your favor, as you know, but it's really quite refreshing. I get rather bored with people agreeing with me just so they can get in my good graces. Invincible as I am, a spat or spar would be nice every now and then. With you, little Ginny, I can mince words. Speaking of which, did you ever draw any conclusions from our little chat about politics?"
She looked at the floor and whispered, "Yes."
"Ah," Tom replied. "What conclusions did you draw?"
"I'd rather not say," she flushed. "Just use Legilimency."
"Come now," Tom coaxed. "I want to hear the words from that pretty little mouth of yours." Ginny was reminded of his stony lips pressed on hers, unfeeling, unmoving, but still something that made her heart skip a beat or two. It was just a shock. I simply wasn't expecting it. That's why my heart is beating faster when I remember it.
"I… got upset," she confessed quietly. "You made a little sense."
"That's good to hear. You'll see things completely clearly eventually," he stated firmly. "Still, fine parting words."
"Yes, little one. I'll be leaving for another complex tomorrow."
"There are more of these… places?" Ginny gasped. How many? How many others are in captivity?
"Of course," Tom said, sounding a bit puzzled. "You didn't think that I could let a world full of adolescents live in this one place, did you?"
"I never really thought about it."
"Think more while I'm away," he commanded. As he turned and began to walk away from her, Ginny called out to him. She felt very brave at that moment. Courage coursed through her body. It was unnerving; she didn't know from whence it came. I guess that's why I'm a Gryffindor.
"Why did you kiss me?"
Tom faltered in his steps but continued walking at an even pace. He turned to look over his left shoulder. "Did I kiss you?" He faced forward again.
"You know you did."
"Must not have been very good, then, if I can't remember it."
When he was out of her sight, she turned and ran back to her room, breathing heavily. Either he really didn't remember or he was being intentionally cruel. It has to be the latter. Tom remembers everything. Why would he say that? A lump formed in her throat and she closed her eyes as she lay on her bed. A more pressing question burned in her mind:
Why do I care?
"I swear to you, Ginny, I'd strangle that man if I could," Neville seethed.
"What did he do now?" Ginny asked. She was getting accustomed to Neville's complaints about the Death Eater called de Danann, but still felt like she needed to be a compassionate ear.
"He talked about my parents," he spat. "Laughed." His fists clenched and his knuckles turned white. "I don't think I've ever wanted anyone to die more than that guy, not even You-Know-Who."
"You-Know-Who trained the people who tortured your parents into madness," Luna responded airily. She really needs to learn to censor herself.
"You think I don't know that?" Neville snapped. "If it was your dad sitting in the hospital-"
"Stop!" Ginny shouted. "Let's just agree that T- You-Know-Who has complete bastards for employees, okay? I can't stand it if we fight. I don't know about you guys, but you're all I have to keep me sane in this place. If we don't have each other, we have nothing. Please." She looked beseechingly from Luna to Neville and back again. They didn't argue, but neither did they make amends. Neville crossed his arms over his chest and Luna was uncharacteristically silent. She turned her head from Neville and stuck her nose in the air.
We have to get out of here. This place is changing people. Hurry, Harry.
Ginny hung her head and tugged at the split ends of her long ginger hair. She sighed heavily as she took her place at the dinner table. The Korean girl next to her had learned a few words of English. "Hi," she said squeakily. "I am named Ae-Cha."
"I'm Ginny," she replied. "Good to meet you."
"What are you named?"
"Ginny," she repeated firmly. The rest of the meal gave her a horrible headache. Karen from Germany was on one side of her laughing boisterously and Ae-Cha was on her right trying to make conversation with the twenty or so words she knew in Ginny's native tongue, the most common of which seemed to be 'yes' and 'squirrel'. She tried to tune out all noise but only succeeded in getting one large buzzing sound from the milieu. She didn't wait after dinner to speak with Luna and Neville; they weren't pleasant company at the moment.
She was pleased with this decision when she saw that Luna was brooding and poking the sprouts on her plate with a spoon and heard Neville's voice begin to rise.
Once in her room, Ginny stripped out of her robes and into her pajamas. She splashed cold water on her face before settling beneath her blankets. Absently she turned her Christmas quill in her hands, stroked her cheek with it, and reminisced. Her thoughts took her back to a Transfiguration lesson she'd shared with Luna. Ginny was sucking on a Sugar Quill and offered one to Luna. Luna already had a quill in her mouth, and it wasn't made of sugar. Professor McGonagall had spotted them and taken five points from both Ravenclaw and Gryffindor.
She smiled in the darkness.
That was when the earthquake started.
And a few people asked if Neville was going to die! OOC, yes... dead? no.
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