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Chapter 3 : Chapter Three
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She carefully avoided the receptionist’s eyes and glanced over at the curtains, admiring the way the blue billows drifted to and fro in front of the bay window. A fan sitting in the corner furthest from her was the source of their easy motion. There were nine identical blue chairs placed in trios against each wall except for the one with the front door. A glass coffee table in the center of the room held a porcelain teapot, along with a sign that cups could be obtained free of charge from the front desk and a few Muggle magazines to help pass the time. Ginny had glanced at them upon her arrival but found herself too nervous to choose one, and so she simply took a seat.
Her eyes turned to the door on the opposite side of the room. She hadn’t noticed it before, tucked away next to the receptionist’s desk, but it was open now and appeared to lead down a short corridor to a series of offices. A woman with wavy blonde hair and light blue eyes was standing in the doorway. She wore a white blouse with lace three-quarter-length sleeves and a soft-looking forest green skirt, along with a pair of black kitten heels. Ginny supposed they could be the same age.
The woman met her eyes. “Mrs. Potter?” she repeated softly.
“Yes,” Ginny said. She stood up, smoothing her plain brown dress and walking over to the doorway. She followed the woman around a couple of corners and into a small back office. The room had a small window with a window box visible on the outer sill. Inside, it was decorated with a pair of dark red armchairs, a plush gray carpet, and an abstract painting of what looked like a sunset.
“Have a seat,” the therapist said, offering Ginny a smile. “Do you prefer Ginevra?”
“No, my mother calls me that when she’s cross with me.” Ginny paused, surprised at how easily she had let the frank comment slip. Something about this woman made her seem trustworthy, despite the fact that she didn’t really know Ginny yet at all. “I go by Ginny,” she added.
“I’m Dr. Wesclox,” the woman said. “But you can call me Bree.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise. Please, make yourself comfortable.”
Ginny settled into one of the chairs, and Bree took the other. “So, what brings you in to see me today, Ginny?”
“A friend of mine recommended this practice,” Ginny said, not wanting to be too specific. “Do you think I could have a cup of tea?”
“Certainly.” Bree stood up, stepping out into the corridor for a moment. Ginny could see her direct another young woman back toward the waiting area. Then, she walked back inside and closed the door. “So you were referred by a friend.”
“I’ve just been dealing with some things, and I thought it would be good if I could talk to someone.” Ginny swallowed. “I don’t think I can talk to my husband about it.”
“I imagine so,” Bree said, leaning slightly forward in her chair.
“Why would you say that?”
“Oh, it’s—” Bree sat back, blushing uncomfortably. “I saw you on the cover of The Whispering Pixie last month. I assumed you were here because of marital problems.” She looked down. “I’m so sorry, how terribly unprofessional of me.”
Ginny was about to excuse her error, having become depressingly accustomed to these sorts of assumptions, when there was a knock at the door. Bree stood up quickly and opened it a bit, retrieving a paper cup of tea and giving it to Ginny. “Sugar?”
“No, thank you.” She sipped it, letting the silence stretch out lazily between them and pondering the therapist’s mistake. The Whispering Pixie was Rita Skeeter’s post-war project, a gossip rag that represented the best she could do in the wake of her error-riddled Daily Prophet articles. The magazine had claimed Ginny and Harry were near divorce for several months. Sometimes it was due to overexposure in the press. Once it had been a miscarriage. Another time, Harry was cheating on her. Ginny anxiously awaited the day when they tired of their false story line.
“I’m sorry, really.”
“It’s all right. I understand.” Ginny took a breath. “No, I’m just—I’m here for me.”
“Okay,” Bree replied, looking a bit more comfortable now. “How can I help you?”
She took another deep breath, sipping the tea a little more before she felt ready to speak. Then, she began at the most logical place. “When I was younger, I was… well, I was sort of Imperiused by someone, and he made me do some really horrific things.” She paused, letting this sink in. Dumbledore had graciously kept her name out of the media at the end of her first year; when asked about the scandal surrounding the Chamber of Secrets, he simply remarked that the matter had been resolved and that he was looking forward to beginning a much quieter school year in September.
“Would you be comfortable telling me what kinds of things?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Ginny said. She glanced up at Bree. “I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize; it’s your right to tell me only what you feel comfortable telling me.” Bree paused, changing her sitting position. “Go ahead, Ginny.”
“I still have nightmares about it sometimes, and lately they’ve been coming back more frequently, and a bit creepier. I was hoping you could help me get rid of them.”
“What happens in your nightmares?”
“Well, he’s always there in one way or another. Sometimes he kidnaps me and takes me away from my family or he chases me down the corridor and frightens me. Sometimes it’s more like I am him, and people just run away from me instead.”
“That sounds awful,” Bree said, frowning sadly.
“It is. I feel like I can’t even enjoy my life. And I’m not sleeping well.” As she spoke, Ginny felt a sense of confidence sink in about going to see a professional about her problems. Who had more of a right to enjoy their life now than her? Harry had been gone for many of those first tentative days of their relationship and her family had been permanently scarred by two wars. Ginny felt she had a right to peace and quiet.
“Let’s go back to the curse itself,” Bree said gently. “What was it like?”
“At first, it was sort of warm… almost comforting, like slipping into a hot bath. Later, I guess it became more sudden. I sort of lost track of time. It was like I’d been asleep, except I was exhausted when I woke up again. I’d come to in strange places, too, not in my bed—and I couldn’t remember anything.”
“How did you figure out what happened?”
“I woke up at the scene of the crime sometimes. After the first few times, I sort of figured out that I’d been… involved.”
“Did you tell anyone?”
“No. I was too scared. I thought they’d blame me for everything.”
“You thought they’d blame you for the things he had done.”
Ginny nodded. She was starting to feel less comfortable now that the conversation was returning to Voldemort. She anxiously awaited the therapist’s next question, which would surely be the identity of her possessor. She also didn’t feel comfortable revealing that lately she’d been seeing Tom in more than just her nightmares.
But Bree didn’t ask about either of those things. Instead, she stood up and offered Ginny a smile. “Unfortunately, we’re out of time for today, but I’d like to see you again next week if you’re amenable to that.”
“Yeah,” Ginny said, nodding. It felt like the right thing to do given Bree’s kind attitude, despite the fact that she didn’t know what she could talk about next.
“Good. Now, in the meantime, there are a couple of things I would like you to do. One is to keep a journal of your dreams.“ Ginny tried not to visibly stiffen at the mention of the word ‘journal,’ and Bree continued. “Just write down when they happen, what the contents are, and if it’s a dream you’ve had before. I just want to get a better sense of what you experience. The other thing is to practice just taking some deep, calming breaths if you wake up from a dream and feel anxious or scared about it.” Bree smoothed her skirt. “Do it like this.” She demonstrated inhaling fully through her nose and exhaling little by little through her mouth, doing it three times in a row. “Now, you give it a try.”
Ginny imitated her, finding that taking one breath actually did help calm her a little.
“How does that feel?”
“Good. Take three of those when you feel anxious, and write down in your journal if taking the breaths helped you calm down or not, okay? Do you have any questions?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Okay. Nice to meet you, Ginny. I’ll see you next week.”
Ginny shook Bree’s hand and exited the office. She was surprised at how quickly her first hour of therapy had gone, and the experience hadn’t been quite as uncomfortable and awkward as she’d imagined, though it hadn’t been perfect either. For now, though, she really needed to get home. Harry would be leaving work soon.
It was the noise in the attic that woke her that night.
Something shattered, and Ginny’s eyes opened. She sat up, listening anxiously in the darkness for any further disturbance. A moment later, she heard something heavy slide across the floor above her. It reminded her of the sound the basilisk’s belly made as it slid across the stone floor, encircling her half-conscious form…
Ginny grabbed her wand.
No, she thought suddenly. This is ridiculous. There’s no basilisk in your attic. She checked to make sure Harry was still asleep and then used her wand to light the candle on her bedside table. Then, placing one hand over her rapidly beating heart, Ginny took a deep breath. She completely filled her lungs before exhaling, letting the air out slowly between her lips, which were parted just enough to prevent any accidental whistling. She repeated the action two more times, feeling her heartbeat begin to calm with each breath. It works, she realized with a little smile.
She settled back against the pillow, moving to extinguish the small flame with her wand and go back to sleep. But she had another thought—perhaps she should go and make sure everything was all right in the attic. After all, she and Harry had piled boxes in there five high, and she had small children in the house who could be injured if one of them had fallen over or spilled out its contents. Ginny pulled on her robe, gently swinging her legs over and onto the floor and trying to keep quiet.
She walked down the corridor, keeping her wand out for light, and climbed the winding staircase to the attic. When she arrived at the door, she struggled slightly to find the latch, even with the help of the light. After a few moments, however, her fingers found the bronze handle and turned it, allowing the light to spill into the attic.
Ginny climbed the last few stairs and stopped dead in her tracks.
The attic floor, once covered with boxes and miscellaneous toys and holiday decorations, was nearly bare. Someone—or something—had stacked the boxes neatly against the back wall, leaving most of the floor space open. Ginny’s eyes fell fearfully upon the sole object in the middle of the floor—a diary.
It was the dream journal that she had purchased in Muggle London on her way home from the therapy appointment, which she had carefully hidden in her bedside table. The journal was open to the first page, which bore a single word in messy script.
She didn’t know how long she stood there before Harry bolted up the steps behind her, still in his pajama pants. “Gin?” he cried, trying desperately to get her attention. “Ginny?”
Finally, she forced her mouth closed and cut off her own screaming, the energy releasing itself in a flurry of wet, ugly tears. Ginny turned away from the awful sight of the journal and fled into Harry’s arms, nearly knocking him over with the force. She buried her face in his shoulder, clinging to him as she sobbed wordlessly.
Harry stared at the boxes, noticing how neat and tidy they looked. He took pity on his wife; she had obviously been over-stressed between trying to clean up the house and take care of the children, and all while not getting enough sleep most nights. He would have to take some time off of work to help with Albus, he decided, and he would be sure to tell her not to worry about the attic anymore. He looked down at the book open on the floor, puzzling over the fact that he hadn’t noticed it before.
That’s strange, he thought. Ginny hasn’t wanted to keep a diary in over thirteen years.
Hello again! Hope you are still enjoying the story. Please stop and leave me a quick review so I know what you think, especially about that last scene—I really tried to make it creepy, but I’m still pretty new at writing scary stuff! I’m interested in what you think about the therapy scene, too—in some ways, it’s similar to what real therapy is like, and in some ways I don’t think it really is.
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