Alphabet Soup

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Alphabet Soup

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Appearances

It was an odd sensation, being Petrified. The sensation was made even more strange for Ginny because her eyes were open and she was suspended above a lavishly decorated dining table, spinning parallel to it.

Table- turkey. Wall- portrait of Salazar Slytherin. Ceiling- chandelier. Wall- window. Table- white linen tablecloth. Wall- gold frame of portrait. Ceiling- flickering candles. Wall- window. Table- wine glasses. Wall- Slytherin laughing. Ceiling- shadows. Wall- window…

She needed to vomit. Closing her eyes did nothing for the dizziness. Bile burned her throat with each turn. She had seen Fred splurt butterbeer from his nose more than once. Was she going to throw up from her nose? She would die if she did, she decided. Breathing through her nose was all she could do at the moment. If she did get sick through her nose, she thought, it might at least hit some of the Death Eaters dining on their fancy china and drinking what was probably the finest wine in the world.

Portrait, chandelier, window, table…

"Nothing like a little entertainment over dinner, eh?" one Death Eater laughed.

"Muggles aren't much use for anything but sport," a voice said. She recognized this one. It was Lucius Malfoy. He was sitting at the head of the table, platinum hair pulled back into a ponytail so as to prevent it from falling into his food. If she could have, Ginny would have snorted. Lucius Malfoy's hair would never fall into a bowl of cold soup. He killed innocent people and was like a king holding court. He didn't have to worry about such trivial things as death and loss. He would never be bent low over a table, lost in thought, and have that pretty hair of his stained by meager foodstuffs.

Portrait, chandelier, window, table…

"I wonder," a woman drawled, "if anyone has ever used the Cruciatus Curse on someone who has been Petrified."

"Bellatrix, your mind works in beautiful ways," Lucius answered. "We'll have to find out after pudding. It may not be as satisfying without the screams, you know."

"It's still worth a try," Bella responded, a wicked smile playing on her lips. "Little Muggle, do you want to be our dolly tonight?" She was using a mock baby voice, the same one she had used in the Department of Mysteries almost two years ago. Ginny wanted to roll her eyes. First of all, she wasn't a child. Secondly, she wasn't a Muggle. Malfoy knew that but called her a Muggle anyway. Did none of the other Death Eaters recognize her?

Portrait, chandelier, window, table…

"He's just arrived," came a fervent whisper, "and he's in a good mood." The Death Eaters all stood and tried to smarten themselves for the arrival of their Lord. Ginny wondered if he had ever been in a good mood before. Could the Devil have any positive feelings not brought on by the pain of others?

Portrait, chandelier, window, table…

The arrival of Lord Voldemort was made apparent by the bowing of every Death Eater Ginny could see. The warm dining hall took on a chill that had nothing to do with temperature.

"Stop sniveling," Voldemort commanded. His voice was different than the last time she had heard it. It wasn't so high-pitched. Odd.

Portrait (dumbfounded), chandelier (flickering), window (dark), table (shaking)…

"I said stop sniveling," Voldemort sneered. "Look upon me, my faithful servants. Look at what I have become. Look at the face that will bring the entire world to its knees."

Ginny couldn't see Voldemort, but judging by the murmurs and whispers from the Death Eaters, he must look extremely different.

"Oh, My Lord," Bellatrix said, awe in her voice. "My Lord, you look so…"

"Young?" he supplied. He surveyed his surroundings. "Another banquet, Lucius?"

"Yes, My Lord."

"Ah, and entertainment as well," he said, pointing at Ginny.

Portrait, chandelier, window, table…

"A bit of Muggle torture," Lucius smiled. "Bellatrix had the most wonderful idea. We intend to use the Cruciatus Curse on her while she's still Petrified. With your permission, of course."

Voldemort examined the piece of Muggle entertainment from a distance. He frowned. "It looks sick," he said. "We shouldn't torture it until it's feeling well."

"Excellent idea, Master-"

"Shut up, Malfoy." He walked closer to the Petrified Ginny.

Portrait, chandelier, window, table…

Tom, chandelier, window, table…

Ginny wanted to scream. This was most certainly not Lord Voldemort. This was Tom Marvolo Riddle, maybe a few years older than Ginny remembered him being in the diary Horcrux. Voldemort looked more than a little shocked when he saw Ginny's face, recognized that long red hair. He immediately stopped her spinning but kept her Petrified and levitating.

Avery's Slip

Voldemort smiled. It wasn't the snake-like stretching of muscles that the Death Eaters recognized; they didn't know what this smile meant. He certainly looked pleased.

"Who brought us this little Muggle this evening?"

"Lucius did," a man answered. Ginny recognized his voice as that of Avery. "Brought her in this afternoon."

"Did he really?" Voldemort practically sung. "Lucius, my old friend, you have done well."

Lucius smiled. "I do what I can to please My Lord."

"You have also lied to Lord Voldemort," he said placidly. "You know this girl isn't a Muggle, Lucius. You've known her for years."

Confused muttering filled the room.

"Shut up," Voldemort commanded, his voice stern. "Not a Muggle, Lucius. Tell my servants who this is."

"It's…" he trembled, "it's Arthur Weasley's daughter."

"A pureblood?" Bellatrix gasped. "You would have us torture and kill a pureblood?"

"Precisely, dear Bellatrix," Voldemort replied.

"Master, but she's a blood traitor, she befriends Muggle-borns, she-"

"Lucius," Voldemort interrupted calmly with his new smile, "don't you remember our little rule about blood traitors? Hm? Why don't you recite it for us. Paraphrase, even."

"All purebloods, even blood traitors, are to be kept alive so as to further our efforts to create an entirely pure-blooded Wizarding society," Lucius answered, trembling.

"Correct," Voldemort patronized. "Now, if you know the commands of Lord Voldemort, why did you directly disobey them?"

Lucius couldn't answer.

"And it's little Ginny Weasley, an old friend of mine. Avery, you have done well in providing information. Lord Voldemort rewards those who are faithful," he smiled, "and punishes those who are not. Lucius, come with me. We have some business to discuss." Lucius's face was ashen. "Oh, and Bellatrix-"

"Yes, My Lord?"

"Take the spells off of little Ginny Weasley and put her somewhere safe, somewhere with no windows." Ginny's heart pounded. What was he planning to do with her?

"Yes, Lord."

Bella muttered "Finite" and grabbed Ginny by the wrist as soon as she landed on the table. Now her whole body was covered with food, not just her hair and trousers. While Bellatrix dragged Ginny through different rooms, a thumping noise was heard, then a scream. Against her better judgment, Ginny looked at Bella. "That'll be Avery," she said. There was no compassion in her voice. "One of those closest to Malfoy probably saw him- ah- slip down the stairs. Idiots. The Dark Lord knows everything. Everything, 'little Ginny'. Whoever pushed Avery down those steps is going to get it just as bad as Malfoy."

She shoved Ginny into what seemed to be an empty pantry. "Nighty-night, sweetums," Bellatrix mocked. "If you're lucky, someone may get you out before you starve."

Exhausted but haunted, Ginny sat in a corner of the old pantry. Her eyes were thrilled to be closed, but she didn't dare sleep for fear of what might happen during the night. Once Malfoy's screams died down, she trembled and curled into a little ball. She cried herself to sleep. It was fitful. She dreamed of the day, of her soup. Instead of spelling the names of good people, good friends, she spelled the names of those she hated.

S-N-A-P-E

L-E-S-T-R-A-N-G-E

M-A-L-F-O-Y

She drank her soup directly from the bowl, swallowing the vegetables without chewing. The bowl wasn't empty when she had finished. Three letters were stuck to the bottom of the bowl, and try as she might, she couldn't get them off. Someone must have put a Permanent Sticking Charm on these particular letters.

T-M-R

She woke with a start, shivering and clammy. She had been taken for saying 'Voldemort', but Voldemort was gone. There was only Tom, but a Tom who, beneath the beautiful façade, was a pale, freakish snake.

She hated him now as much as she had loved him when she was eleven.

Next Time: "Muggles told you that Death Eaters kidnapped Ginny, right in front of them?"

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