Alphabet Soup

C

Alphabet Soup

C

Conversations

Losing blood sucked, Ginny decided. Her jeans were glued to her leg and she was certain that if she tried to un-stick them that the slashes would re-open. Looking back, she thought that tearing apart her shin was probably not the best course of action; she felt numb and powerful in the moment, but now her leg just hurt.

Ginny's stomach growled. She poked it and muttered 'shut up'. There was positively nothing to do. She couldn't even fight with the racist mirror. All she had to entertain her were thoughts and memories; she didn't want those. So she sat, doing nothing, for a while. She didn't know how long.

And then the door opened, swinging inside. Ginny yelped and jumped, pushing herself into the corner of the old sofa. What if they had come to kill her? No; death was preferable to what she saw in the doorframe.

"Hello, Ginny," Tom said with a smile. He surveyed the little room. "You broke my mirror."

"It pissed me off," Ginny mumbled in reply. His seemingly calm temperament was rather unnerving; he could snap at any moment, Ginny knew.

Tom laughed. "I've always hated talking mirrors. What did it say to make you so angry?" Ginny looked down and suppressed a shudder. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. "What did it say?" Tom repeated. His voice had an edge. Ginny knew better than to stay silent when Tom asked a question in that manner.

"It…" she began, "made fun of my hair, and then started saying bad things about… about… Muggle-borns, and how Death Eaters were going to kill me…"

Tom just laughed. Ginny bit her lip, angry and afraid. "No, Ginny, no one's going to kill you," he said, frowning, "unless you manage to do it."

"Oh," she replied, looking at her leg. "That's nothing. It doesn't even hurt."

"Then stand on it," he commanded. Ginny slowly stood, trying to put most of her weight on her left leg. It was no use; she cried out and began to fall almost as soon as she was standing properly. Tom caught her by the arm and pushed her back onto the blood-soaked sofa. "I thought so," he chuckled. He cocked his head to one side and stabbed her with his blue eyes.

"You're scared, little Ginny. Why?"

"Why?" she snapped angrily. "Maybe because I was kidnapped, turned into a dinner decoration, locked in a pantry and then moved into a tiny room with a prejudiced mirror, and told I'll be killed! Wouldn't that scare anyone, Tom?" She clapped her hand over her mouth instantly. She had just told off Lord Voldemort. They would kill her for sure now, not that it mattered. Most of her family was probably dead anyway.

Tom raised his eyebrows. "Still a spitfire, I see. If you were anyone else, Ginny, I'd have to punish you for speaking to me that way. As it is," he explained, pacing, "I have a bit of a soft spot regarding you. You almost brought me back, albeit unwillingly. That's not to say that you'll never be punished," he sternly amended. Ginny nodded fervently when he looked at her.

"You'll be here for quite some time, I'm afraid," he sighed. "We shall have to find you somewhere more comfortable to stay, of course. I can't have my guests being uncomfortable."

"Guest?" Ginny asked quietly.

"Oh, yes," Tom answered. He sat beside her on the old couch and folded his hands in his lap. "Didn't you hear what Malfoy said? Purebloods must be treated well, Ginny, if we are to be united and create more decent Wizards and Witches. Half-bloods will be gauged by their skill, and Mudbloods are as useless as Muggles; they'll have to be eliminated, I'm afraid. Don't look so frightened, Ginny! Your family is safe. You may be blood traitors, but such things need to be ignored for the sake of our kind's future."

"But you killed my dad and brother," she said slowly.

"Their deaths were unfortunate," Tom replied, "but they cannot be changed."

"But they were purebloods!" Ginny protested. Tom shot her a glare.

"They died, I believe, before I penned the law regarding blood status."

Ginny tightened her lips and balled her hands into fists. Her right hand shrieked in pain and began to bleed again. "When doesn't matter, Tom," she said through gritted teeth. "They're dead and it's because of you."

Tom looked at her raw hand and gently reached for it. Ginny flinched. "Don't worry," Tom whispered. He turned her hand so that he was looking at her palm. "You've made a real mess of yourself, haven't you? And it'll only get worse. Do you know why, Ginny?" She shook her head, eyes wide. "Because you insist on being childish," he hissed. Ginny screamed; Tom had clamped her hand as tightly as he could. Blood began to trickle from between his own fingers. "You're all grown up now, Ginny," he said, squeezing her hand ever harder with each seething word, "so act like it." When she felt like she would pass out from pain, Tom suddenly released her hand. He frowned when he saw her blood on his hands. "No doubt you have questions," he said with a charming smile. "If you're polite, I'll do my best to answer them."

Ginny hesitated. As she wrapped her sore hand in her shirt, she asked, "Who else in my family is dead?"

"No one. I told you, purebloods won't be killed."

"Yes, but I didn't know if maybe you killed- er, that is to say, if they died before you wrote that law." Ginny flushed red; she had almost said something she was sure would upset Tom.

"Nice save," he grinned. Ginny sighed, relieved.

"What about my friends? Are they okay?"

"Some of them are dead," Tom said in an offhand manner. "Some of them are out living their normal lives. Some of them are here."

"Where is 'here'?"

"I'm afraid I won't be telling you that." He smirked.

Ginny let her shoulders drop. She exhaled heavily and leaned her head back to rest on the old sofa. There was one question burning in her mind, but she dared not ask it. He may have said that she wouldn't be killed, but she knew that Tom Riddle was an excellent liar… and an equally good Legilimens.

"Go ahead and ask," he said with a slight smile. "The Ginny I knew wasn't cowardly."

She sniffed angrily. "The Ginny you knew didn't know who you were until it was too late."

"Does that mean I frighten you?" Tom asked, a dark gleam in his eyes.

"I didn't say that," Ginny answered defensively. They both knew that the answer was 'yes'.

"Well," Tom continued, waving his hand in an elegant gesture, "ask your question… unless you're not as brave as I thought."

She glared at him and pushed a strand of her long hair behind her ear. "Fine," she said as she internally yelling at the butterflies in her stomach. 'We are not afraid, stomach', she thought. "Well… I was kind of wondering why you're you and not You-Know-Who. I mean, I just saw you or You-Know-Who or whomever not long ago and he wasn't… you."

"Oh, no," Tom smiled, "that was me. Ugly thing, wasn't I?"

"Er… then why don't you look like him anymore?"

"It's a secret," Tom whispered, eyes twinkling playfully.

He stood and smoothed his trousers with his clean hand. "That's enough of that, don't you think? I really must be going now, Ginny. I've wasted enough time with you for today. I shall have to visit you from time to time; I confess myself nostalgic of your company."

He moved toward the door and waved a hand to open it. He stopped mid-stride to say, "I'll send in someone with murtlap essence and someone to take you to a nicer room; maybe one of your friends."

"Er, thanks, Tom," Ginny replied as she watched the door close behind him. She was puzzled; for the most part he had been nice- or as nice as Tom Riddle could get, at any rate. He was Tom… and he was You-Know-Who. She didn't understand and shook her head quizzically, waiting for someone to come.

Yes, I know it was short…

Next Time: "Didn't you hear?" Ginny asked airily. "Daddy got in trouble for being mean to the Weaselette."

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