Alphabet Soup

W

Alphabet Soup

W

Why She's Doing It

Ginny found herself alone in the crowd for the next two weeks. Luna still wasn't talking to her. In fact, she seemed to be pointedly ignoring her. Tom certainly wasn't paying her any attention. She never would have thought that the Dark Lord could be self-conscious. She kept to her own thoughts at mealtimes and in the exercise area. She reminisced about Neville, sweet Neville, whose attitude had fluctuated so. He'd been so desolate when she had arrived at the compound; later, his bravery got him killed. She didn't know what was worse- to give in to the hopelessness or to fight it. If she gave in, she might well begin seeing things again, she rationalized. If she fought, she could end up dead.

Gryffindors were made of stronger stuff than most. She would not give in and become as lively as an Inferius. Maybe she wouldn't put up an active fight, but Ginny would resist the temptation to sink within her sorrows. She resolved to speak with Luna at the next opportunity. Maybe it would go well and maybe it would be a disaster, but she'd never know unless she tried. Getting to Luna was, though seemingly simple, easier said than done.

It was like looking for a ghost. Sometimes she wasn't at meals. When she was, she would mostly simply push around the food on her plate. Lively Luna had become emaciated with a distended belly before Ginny knew it. Once she entered the plain dining room with a very clear slap mark across her face. She ate with fervor from then on. Ginny tried every day at breakfast to stop Luna at the door, but the petite blond would slink just out of reach and ignore every call.

The day finally came when Ginny cornered her friend. It was bright and warm, a perfect Spring day. The ocean's waves crashed lazily against the shore and the call of gulls resounded through the air. They almost sounded happy, Ginny thought. They're free. Luna sat with her back to Ginny, facing the green sea with her head cocked to the side and her hands folded in her lap serenely. Inhaling heavily, she approached Luna. Here goes nothing…

"Why have you been ignoring me?" she demanded. Luna stood, met Ginny's eyes for a brief second, and tried to step away. Ginny moved along with her and blocked her escape route. "I'm not going away until you tell me."

Bulging blue eyes filled with tears. "You don't know what it's like," Luna whispered, "to have them force themselves on you. I envy you that." Her tone was lilting, resigned. It was as if she had also given up hope. "You have this… friend, your Tom, to watch out for you. I'm jealous, Ginny. You have no idea how badly I want my own Tom."

"Trust me," Ginny snorted, "you don't want Tom. He's-"

"Keeping you safe from people like Yaxley," Luna interrupted. A tear slid down her cheek. "He hits me, you know, when I don't do as he says. I don't mind so much anymore; I'm used to it now…"

"Well, fight back!" Ginny said, aghast. "For every slap he gives you, give him two knees to the bollocks!"

"It's not that simple now, Ginny," she said, sighing. "I shouldn't be holding this against you. I know it isn't your fault. You don't want this for me. It's happened, though. He's got what the Dark Lord wants, so he can't knock me around for a bit."

Ginny shuddered with a cold anticipation. "What do you mean 'what the Dark Lord wants'?"

Luna sniffled and wiped her nose on her sleeve. Another dirty tear made its way down her face. "A baby," she whispered.

Ginny gagged. "You're- he- without your consent? That's disgusting. When I see him, I'll hex him something awful! I'll- I'll-" and she began to choke on her own tears. "I'll talk to Tom, see if he can't make this right. I'll do something, I swear."

"There's nothing to be done," Luna hiccupped. "In five months I'm going to be a mom, and I won't have any say in how my little one is raised. I won't be able to tell him or her bedtime stories, or give them hugs, or anything that mothers are supposed to do. I don't have that right. I chose to side with Harry Potter, and now I'm paying the price for it. I still think Dumbledore was right about everything- this place is proof enough- but maybe if we hadn't ever printed that article, or if I'd never gotten out from the dungeons of Malfoy Manor, or a million other things, this wouldn't be happening."

As they both cried, they clung to one another. Ginny felt dually grateful for and hatred towards Tom. Yes, he did keep her safe, but he allowed Luna's situation to happen. Though she knew she'd be punished for it, she vowed to have words with Tom on the subject.

What They Did

"Will you deliver a message to him for me?" Ginny asked Mona one bright afternoon.

"What kind of message?" came the suspicious reply.

"The personal kind," Ginny replied smartly. "He's angry with me and I need to apologize. Since I can't exactly just waltz into his throne room- if he's even in the compound- I need another way to let him know I'm sorry. I'd like to write him a note and I'd appreciate it if you'd pass it along to him."

"If he's in a bad mood, he might hex me. Why should I take that risk?"

"Then wait until he's in a good mood. Or you could just tell him I'd like to speak with him. I'd appreciate it either way."

Mona sighed behind her mask. "Fine. Write a little letter. I'll give it to him if I feel like it."

"Understood."

I didn't laugh at you, I was just happy. Please don't ignore me anymore.

"Sounds kind of desperate," Mona said.

"I am kind of desperate," Ginny admitted. "I need someone to talk to, and my best friend isn't in the best shape right now…"

"Oh, yes. Yaxley's girl. I pity her situation."

"She's not 'Yaxley's Girl', she's Luna Lovegood and she doesn't deserve to be smacked about. I swear I've gone through every spell I can do without my wand to find something to use against him…"

"That would greatly displease the Dark Lord," Mona warned darkly.

"I don't care. I love Luna more than I fear him."

"That's a dangerous sentiment and a lie; both of us know it."

Ginny paused, twirling a bit of her hair. "I suppose I am rather afraid of him," she conceded, "but something has to be done for Luna."

"You'd best leave it alone."

"Probably, but I'm not going to. Warn me all you want, I'll see that man maimed."

"Honestly," the Death Eater said with a chuckle, "I don't think anyone would care if he was grievously injured. He's not Mr. Popularity among us either. Now I've got some errands to run. I'll take your note and give it to him- maybe."

Ginny simply nodded and hoped.

Her hope was not in vain. Tom was, in fact, in the compound that day, and in a surprisingly pleasant mood. As soon as she was escorted to him, she opened her mouth to question his borderline glee, but decided against it. If he was happy, he'd be more likely to listen, and that would make Luna's situation possibly better. Ginny cleared her throat a little to catch his eye.

"You've had my attention since you stepped foot in the room, pretty little Ginny. Pray, give your Lord your apology, then tell him what you really want to say."

"How did you know-"

"I always know, Ginny, or have you forgotten?"

"No, no," she lilted. "I just… It's a lot to say."

"Then begin."

"Well," Ginny started, "I want to say sorry. You misinterpreted- I mean, I incorrectly conveyed my feelings when… that time. I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

"You didn't hurt my feelings," Tom sneered. "You pissed me off."

"That was blunt," Ginny chortled.

"We're past lies, Ginevra."

"I suppose we are," she agreed. After all, he'd taken control of her soul all those years ago and thus knew her better than anyone else, better than her own mother. "So I'll be blunt as well. I am sorry I made you angry, but I'm angry with you, too."

"Yaxley," he drawled.

"Yes, Yaxley. Why would you let him hit a girl?"

"He acts of his own accord. Violence against women isn't something I actively advocate."

"So make him stop."

"Are you asking or telling, dear?"

"Whichever will convince you."

"Clever, clever girl," Tom replied with a small smile. To Ginny's shock, it looked to be genuine. She'd only seen him genuinely smile twice; both times were in the Chamber of Secrets when she was dying. When he saw her paling and saw himself solidifying, he smiled for the first time in more than fifty years. When he heard Harry Potter enter the Chamber, he absolutely grinned. Ginny wondered why he was smiling now.

"What has you so happy?" she asked suspiciously.

"I'll show you tomorrow," he replied cryptically.

She mentally waved off the response. "Anyway, back to Yaxley. I wanted to ask if you would be willing to… punish him in some way."

"Do you want me to have someone else murdered for you?" he asked with mock serenity.

Immediately her eyes filled with tears. "Why would you bring that up?" she choked. "You know how it haunts me. You know I regret it."

"Do you?"

"I'm not sorry he's gone," Ginny sniffed, "but Neville would have wanted me to make another decision."

"So you'd kill for one friend but not another?"

"Stop that," she snapped. "Please" was thrown on as an afterthought. "Luna isn't dead; it's different."

"If that's true," Tom said with clear derision, "what would you have me do to one of my most loyal subjects?"

"Just… hex him or something. Not an Unforgivable-"

"-Under my rule, there are no more Unforgivables," he interrupted.

"Be that as it may," Ginny said, disgusted at this change, "I'd like him hurt, but just enough so that he knows not to hurt her again."

"He won't be hurting her for a while anyway," Tom reasoned.

"Yeah, because he raped her and knocked her up. That's no excuse for him to get away with anything."

There was a long silence as Tom considered her words. "I've heard your argument," he stated slowly, "and I will do as I see fit. That may mean I will do nothing. Yaxley has been faithful, while you fight me and Lovegood slanders me."

"You wouldn't like me if I didn't challenge you every once in a while," she dared.

"True," he acquiesced. "At any rate, I'll do what I think is best. You're dismissed."

What The Prophet Said, or, Why Tom Was Happy

Ginny woke to find a newspaper sitting on her desk. On it was a note. As promised was written in Tom's tidy scrawl. Frowning slightly, she began to read:

15 April

Harry Potter, Undesirable No. 1, has been taken to Azkaban to finish his prison term before his sentence is carried out. Readers will recall that Potter was captured several months ago and unanimously sentenced by Ministry Circuit Court Seven to a Dementor's Kiss. The Kiss is scheduled to take place one week from today. Senior Ministry officials are expected to attend. It is unclear whether the elusive Dark Lord will be there as well.

She began to cry.

So the next chapter is X & Y combined (iirc, it's called Xanthan and something about Yaxley). It's relatively short, so it shouldn't take long to do the final beta-ing/edits.

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