Terrified, Ginny tried to back away. Tom enveloped her waist with his strong arm, pulling her closer to him.
"Did you really think you could escape me?" he whispered, capturing a loose tendril of stray auburn hair with his fingers and twisting it around his finger playfully, like a cat toying with a mouse.
Ginny looked up at Riddle - did he expect her to answer him?
She felt defeated, dismayed... succumbing to her fate, she shook her head.
Riddle smiled maliciously; his nose wrinkled and he raised his free hand to cover a sneeze.
From all the time spent with Riddle, Ginny knew that the Dark Lord never sneezed.
Almost laughing out loud at her stupidity, and the absurdity of the situation, she took out her wand, and with a relieved voice she muttered, "Riddikulus!"
At once,the Boggart disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Ginny took several deep breaths to calm herself and slow down her racing heart.
For a moment, she had truly believed that she had been caught.
But it was only a boggart, nothing more and nothing less, and she could resume her path to freedom.
Wiping the sweat from her brow, Ginny commenced walking towards the gate, slowly and meticulously through the thick fog as she remained alert for any other guardian of the gate.
Her efforts were rewarded, her journey cursed, as she spotted a black figure only several yards away, undiscernible and frightening.
Eerily and slowly, the creature sensed her presence, turning around to face her.
As it did, the effect was instantaneous.
At once, the air became colder and the clouds appeared to obscure the moon, impeding the flow of moonlight and casting darkness across the sky.
Remembering what Harry had told her about his rendevous with dementors in his muggle neighbourhood, Ginny grimly recognized all the signs.
The dementor had halted and was now face to face with her, but a yard or two away.
Before she could even begin preparing herself, a sudden wave of coldness overtook her, filling her with memories that she had buried deep within herself as she struggled to forget.
Falling to her knees, Ginny struggled as she was forced to recall all her
scars of the past.
"Tom, please, let me go!" Ginny cried, crumpled on the chamber floor, growing weaker by the minute...
"You foolish girl" he snapped at her, and then smiled sadistically as he thought of amusing ways to break her...
Ginny hugged her knees as she tried to protect herself from the cold dungeons, her mind recalling the dreadful things that Tom had forced her to see. She saw herself petrifying her own peers... killing the roosters... Blood dripping down her arm as she wrote threatening messages on the cold, stone walls of the hallways...
Sniffing quietly, she succumbed to her fate.
Weak and disoriented, Ginny was carried to Madam Pomfrey.
"Oh dear," she heard a matronly voice say as she was placed upon a cool, firm bed.
Hazily, she opened her eyes, only to look directly into those of Madam Pomfrey.
Her eyes clearly conveyed her thoughts, and just before Ginny fell into unconsciousness she wondered if she would be little more than "damaged goods" forever.
"I can make it end," he said, his voice sickeningly sweet and soft. "I can make it all end, all the pain, everything... just tell me about the Order."
"Please, not Harry!" she begged desperately. "Take me instead!"
Yet her pleas were futile.
The hooded figure raised his wand and rasped in a dark, cold voice, "Avada Kedavra!"...
"You have given me one thing that I wanted, but since you are still here, you may as well give me the other thing that I would like, Ginevra Weasley. I always get what I want…"
Ginny stared at the creature, gliding slowly towards her, his skull-like face obscured by a hood and the shadows.
"Pleasant thoughts," she willed herself, closing her eyes tightly and clenching her fists.
She recalled lazy summers at the Burrow, Christmas at Hogwarts, the Hogsmeade trip with Seamus... but the memories of Hogsmeade were only those of gore and blood, murder and massacre.
She tried to think of her childhood hero, Harry.
She thought of everyone she had ever known; faces of her past rushed through her mind like a torrent wind, finally pausing on the image of Draco Malfoy.
Her body immediately filled with warmth, and Ginny felt her head clear as strength returned to her limbs.
Raising her wand with a flourish, she pointed it at the Dementor and shouted "Expecto Patronum!"
At once, a large Hippogriff emerged from her wand, chasing the dementor away.
The moonlight shone across her face again, and the Hippogriff slowly faded, turning from a strong, corporeal beast to shimmering mist, invisible amongst the thick fog.
Shakily, Ginny stood up, placing her wand back in her pocket.
Despite the grim situation, Ginny could not help but smile.
She had done it! She had managed to face danger and emerge victorious!
"Just like Harry Potter," whispered a sly voice in the back of her head. And yet, after what she had been through, Ginny realized that her hero-worship of Harry had faded into nothing but the remnants of a childhood crush, dilute and easily forgotten.
It was not until she had finished taking several deep breaths to calm herself did Ginny remember her goal and just how close she was to attaining it.
Breaking into a sprint, Ginny ran towards the black metal gate.
She was free, free at last from her five-day captivity!
Little did she know that she would leave with light and dark that were not present at her arrival; she knew not what was waiting for her in the future.
In the elation, two eye-shaped scars glowed brilliant green, forgotten yet significant.
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