Alphabet Soup

X&Y

Alphabet Soup

X & Y

Xanthan

He came to her the next day and held her as she cried. He didn't retaliate or spar with her when her sobs of "How could you?" became loud enough for others to hear. "He didn't do anything wrong," she kept repeating. "He just wanted to protect us, that's all…" He didn't care that she had a vice grip on his hands, or that she hiccupped in the most annoying way with every breath.

He didn't care because he had finally won. Harry Potter's soul was gone. He had come out of seclusion to see it. Death Eaters who hadn't been in any of his worldwide concentration camps were shocked by his appearance. The Dark Lord was so young! Was this truly Voldemort? Oh, he could prove it. "Hit me with Avada Kedavra," he'd challenged with bravado. "I won't so much as sneeze." And he hadn't. As three jets of green light hit him, he had simply smiled.

He smiled again in remembrance of his triumph. All of the continents were under his control. He had bases of operation all over the planet. Muggles were dying at the hands of dark wizards every day. He had eternal youth. All of his dreams had come true.

There was one dream, though, that he hadn't anticipated. It unsettled him when he thought about it. It made him feel weak. It made him feel… hated. It made him feel loved. It made him feel, something he didn't like to do. He should be cold and aloof always, he thought. He wasn't anymore, and it was all her fault. He wanted to hate her, but he simply couldn't. Perhaps it was because they had shared souls so long ago. Perhaps it was her spunky attitude and cautious optimism turned to cynicism. He didn't much care anymore. He felt something for her, but he had yet to determine what it was. He stood and extended a hand to her.

"Come here, Ginny," he commanded softly. Eyes wide and full of tears, she put her trembling hand in his. He helped her up, supported her weight as he led her through the halls of the complex to a room Ginny had never before seen.

He gestured for her to sit on a plush black sofa. It was comfortable; she grabbed a red throw pillow and cuddled it, crying still. She settled further into the soft down of the couch. "What am I doing here, Tom?" she asked shakily. But Tom was nowhere to be seen. "Tom?" she called. A flash of green light glowed under the door to the next room and Ginny flinched. The door cracked a bit. "I'll be right back. Get comfortable, take a nap, explore- I don't much care. I'll call for you when I'm done in here." He closed the door once more.

She took to admiring the books on the dark shelves. Many of them were in languages she didn't know; some were in alphabets she didn't know. She focused on the volumes lining lower shelves. Most of them were in English, though they all seemed dull. She picked one at random. "Rewind," she read aloud. It was dusty, falling apart, and had obviously seen quite a bit of use over the years. The corner of a page was turned down, marking what must have been something significant. Ginny opened the book to that page and began to scan the chapter. "Eternal youth?" she scoffed. "Well, it does sound like something Tom would be interested in." The margins were filled with notes. An eerie feeling came over her; it reminded her of Harry's Half-Blood Prince book. She slammed it shut and stuck it on the shelf quickly.

Harry.

She flopped back onto the giant sofa and covered herself with a readily available red wool blanket. Harry. She'd never see him again. She'd resigned herself to the possibility long ago, but now it was a harsh reality. His fate was one worse than death- that's what she'd always heard about the Kiss. Tears started to fall anew and she sniffled. She nearly didn't hear Tom when he called for her.

"Ginevra, come here." Ginny rose, walked across the room, and opened the door hiding Tom with a gentle nudge of her shoulder. "You're crying again. It's beginning to irritate me. Drink this." He thrust a potion bottle full of a shining turquoise liquid into her hands.

"W-what is it?"

"Just drink it."

"Not until you tell me what it is," Ginny said firmly.

"Don't make me force you," Tom replied dangerously.

Ginny sipped the liquid tentatively. It was saccharine and made her tongue tingle. She giggled a bit and downed the rest. "Now tell me what it was." She added 'please' as an afterthought.

"I call it Xanthan," he began. "It's a potion of my own invention, though I will admit that I was quite inspired by the book you picked up. You see," Tom drawled, "something is wrong, and I know you're a part of it."

Ginny blanched. "It was poison?"

Tom laughed. "The opposite, dear. 'Xanthan' is a synonym for health; I just extended your life span. You see, I've got to know what's wrong with me, and I need you around to give me the answers."

"You… extended my life? What information could I possibly have that would require more than a lifetime to extract? Come to think of it, why not just use Legilimency or your truth spell?"

"I thought you might want to thank me," Tom frowned.

"For what? For giving me a longer amount of time to stay in this prison? Now I'll have to watch my friends die. Why would I thank you for that?"

"Always ungrateful, little one. You won't be staying in the complex proper any longer. You'll be going with me to the other compounds so I can study you. I need to know what's so different about you."

"It's still prison," she spat. "My life will be a prison until I'm free to choose where I can go, and go there on my own, whenever I like. And if I'm different and making things go 'wrong', why don't you just isolate me again? I'll hallucinate and scrub myself raw, but I'll be out of your hair."

"Ginny, just shut up already," Tom sighed. "Your teenage angst is almost as irritating as your tears. I'll be taking you with me wherever I go; it's better than being locked in one place with, say, Malfoy and Yaxley, isn't it?"

Ginny crossed her arms and pouted. "Yes. Speaking of Yaxley-"

"He doesn't care about your friend anymore. He'll leave her alone for a while."

"Thank you," Ginny said softly, eyes on the floor. "Back to what you were saying before, though- what could I possibly know that could affect you?"

"Maybe it's something you do, Ginevra. I don't know yet. Now go take a nap; the potion causes extreme drowsiness. I've got to make more Xanthan. The bedroom is through there," he said, pointing to an ornately carved door.

"I'm not to go back to my own room?" she asked with mild surprise.

"No, you're going to mine."

"Yours? You want me to sleep in your bedroom?"

"Just do it," he said, rubbing his temples.

You Know You Made Me Love You

When she woke, he was laying next to her. She gasped, sat up, and promptly fell off of the bed. She heard a grumble.

"Do you often fall out of bed, Ginevra?"

"I'll just go… sleep on the couch," she stammered.

"Whatever," Tom yawned, "just don't wake me again."

"R-right." She crept through the doors leading back to Tom's living room silently and curled up on the couch. Hot tears flowed down her cheeks. What the hell was he playing at, sleeping beside her? Having her sleep in his bed? What on earth was happening? She felt violated somehow, as if his invasion of her personal space was more wicked than his excursions into her body and soul. Her fingers trembled as she wiped away the tears.

She didn't even know why she was crying. She knew she ought to be crying for Harry every minute of every day for the rest of her long, long life, but these tears were different. Ginny felt an ache remarkably similar to the kind one gets upon ending a relationship. But I didn't "break up" with Tom. If anything, we're closer than ever.

She pondered their relationship. Dysfunctional and perverse as it was, she was glad to have it in this place. Hell, she'd be glad for it outside this horrible place. He could be so kind to her, but he could also cut her heart to the quick. Every day she had looked forward to a possible meeting between them. Even her sporadic moments with Mona made her hopeful; perhaps she would hear tell of him. Oh, but he could be cruel. There was no question about that. He'd briefly starved her when she first was brought to the complex. He'd killed and made her feel responsible. Then again, she recalled, the burden of de Dannan's death was on her. She had chosen that punishment for him. Giving her that choice was the cruelest kindness Tom could have bestowed. So what was he? Twisted, handsome, unforgiving, caring, harsh, strong, vulnerable, and even sweet at times…

"My god," Ginny said aloud. "I love him."

She pinpointed the moment it began. Okay, Tom… That's when her crush began. But the love? Neville had brought that. After he died she had fallen to pieces, and Tom had been her strength.

She quietly sneaked through Tom's apartment back to the bedroom and climbed under the covers, smiling through those tears that wouldn't stop.

...and I think love is what his trouble is.

The end there was a recap on purpose. We've only got one chapter left! It's called "Zephyr" and is very short. Please review...

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