Chapter Twenty-Seven: A Measure of Darkness
She had never known such complete darkness. It surrounded her, even when she opened her eyes. If she held her hand out in front of her, she wouldn’t have known it was there at all.
Ginny had lost all sense of time in the darkness. She had no idea how long she’d been down there—it could have been years, months, or even days, but she wouldn’t have known. And that scared her the most, more than anything.
She had tried to escape, of course, but it was impossible. When she’d first woken up in darkness, she gotten up and touched every surface, hoping to find a way to escape. But there was none. The door she found was locked, and with her wand gone, she had no hope of getting it open. Whoever had taken her—and she still didn’t know who that was—had left her completely defenseless.
She was alone in the darkness, with no way of escaping. She had never been so alone in her life.
Sometimes, a woman would join her in the darkness. The woman never told her who she was, but Ginny knew, somehow, that this was her captor. Sometimes, the woman would laugh at her. Her laughter was how she’d been able to tell it was, indeed, a woman that had taken her.
After the woman was finished laughing at her, Ginny would convulse in pain, a pain that could only come from the Cruciatus Curse. That was how she knew her captor was a witch.
Finally, when she was done, Ginny would lie on the floor, sweating and crying, and the woman would laugh again.
‘Oh, silly girl,’ she said. ‘Your silly boyfriend will join you soon, if all goes as planned. It’s a good thing you bleed so easily.’
And then she was gone, and Ginny was alone again. She was horrified at the woman’s words. Why did everyone always seem to be after Harry? It didn’t seem fair. Wasn’t he allowed a little bit of peace?
Someone gave her food—usually bread and something that tasted like soup, but she wasn’t sure—and water, and she usually gobbled it down, but what she really wanted was a first-aid kit and a bath. She was filthy, and her body ached from head to foot. She was pretty sure that she had a bruise or two, but there was no way to be sure. But no matter how many times the woman hit her with the Cruciatus, no matter how much it hurt, she had never once wished for death. Many people in her situation certainly would’ve. But how was she supposed to protect Harry if she was dead?
Some days stood out more than others. The woman didn’t come every day, but when she did, it stood out in Ginny’s mind. When she slept, she had nightmares, and often woke up screaming for Harry. Sometimes she tried to forget where she was, and remembered instead. It was always easier after she remembered.
Easier, but not better. After all, how could anything get better when she was in a place like this?
‘Oh, look. She’s crying,’ said a mocking voice above Ginny’s head, snapping her out of her memories. ‘Poor little Weasel. What can we do to make her happy again?’
There was a girlish giggle. ‘I have an idea,’ said another voice. ‘Why don’t we dress her up and make her pretty again? She looks so filthy. Anyone would be crying if they looked so hideous.’
Someone laughed, and Ginny shivered, opening her eyes. But it didn’t matter. She couldn’t see anything. ‘Good idea,’ said the first voice. She felt something nudge her foot. ‘Come on, Weasley. Get up already.’
But Ginny stayed where she was. ‘W-who are you?’ She whispered. ‘What do you want from me?’
‘Nothing,’ said the second voice, the girlish one. ‘We’re just going to make you look pretty again.’
‘Get away from me,’ Ginny said. ‘I don’t want to be your plaything. Just leave me alone. Please.’
‘But it’s no fun being alone. Come on, we’ll do your nails and everything, and I can tell you all about how your boyfriend thinks I’m you. We slept together, you know,’ said the girlish voice.
She went cold all over, as if she had been bathed in ice. ‘That’s a lie,’ Ginny said. ‘You’re lying.’
‘Oh, you think so, do you? Hmm… what can I say to make you believe me? Oh, I know. In your boyfriend’s sixth year, I sent him chocolate for Valentine’s Day, doused with love potion. They were supposed to make him fall in love with me, but instead your fat brother went and ate them,’ said the voice. ‘Now do you believe me?’
She felt sick. ‘Romilda,’ she whispered. ‘Romilda Vane.’
There was laughter. ‘Yes, yes. It’s me. I’ve got him wrapped around my finger, you know,’ Romilda said, giggling. ‘He has no idea it’s not really you. And soon, I’ll break up with him, and poor Potter will be heartbroken, and then the real me will walk back into the picture, and I’ll comfort him, and he’ll fall in love with me. And he’ll forget all about Ginny Weasley and his stupid little crush on her.’
‘No!’ Ginny screeched. ‘LEAVE HARRY ALONE! LEAVE HIM ALONE, YOU BITCH!’
‘What’s going on in here?’ Another voice said. This one sounded awfully familiar. It was a voice she had heard many times. ‘I thought I told you not to bother the prisoner! What have you told her?’
‘Nothing,’ Romilda lied. ‘We didn’t tell her anything. We were just going to make her all pretty again, because she was crying.’
‘No one gave you permission to come in here,’ said the other voice coldly. ‘Get out, Romilda.’
Romilda mumbled something that sounded like an apology, and then there was the sound of shuffling feet, and a door closing. ‘I didn’t do anything, ma’am,’ the first voice said. ‘I swear. It was all Romilda’s idea.’
This voice sounded awfully familiar, now that Ginny thought about it. She had heard this one, too. Often. ‘Goyle?’ She whispered.
‘Oh, well, that’s just perfect. Romilda can’t keep a secret to save her life, can she?’ The woman sighed. ‘Ah, well. I guess we’ll have to see about dispatching her soon. You can leave, boy.’
More feet shuffling. The door closed again, and Ginny knew she was alone with the woman who now haunted her nightmares.
‘Please,’ Ginny said, pleased that she didn’t whimper. ‘Please. I’ll do anything you want, just… just get her away from Harry. I beg you.’
The woman laughed. ‘How sweet. Your request will be taken into consideration,’ she said. ‘But not quite yet. Don’t worry, though, dear. I don’t plan on keeping Romilda around much longer anyway.’
‘What… what do you want from us?’ She asked. ‘Do you want revenge or something? I mean, were you a Death Eater?’
‘A Death Eater?’ The woman sounded disgusted. ‘No, Ginerva, dear. I wasn’t a Death Eater, and I certainly never wanted to be one. But as for that bit about revenge, you were right about that. But not against your silly boyfriend.’
‘W-who, then?’ Ginny asked, nervously. There was a part of her that was waiting for the torture to begin again. ‘Who are you? Why did you kidnap me?’
‘So many questions,’ the woman sighed. ‘I suppose we have nothing but time to answer them. Very well. I suppose you’ve heard the story of the Four Founders? Godric, Helga, Salazar and Rowena?’
‘Yes,’ Ginny said. ‘They created Hogwarts, but they had a falling out because Salazar believed that only a select few should be allowed to attend. He sounds like a prejudiced, presumptuous arse if you ask me.’
‘No one did,’ said the woman. ‘Anyway. I met Godric Gryffindor when I was about seventeen. In those days, it was a sin to practise witchcraft, so I kept my abilities secret. I never attended Hogwarts, but I should have. When I met Godric, he offered to let me into the school so I could become a teacher. I accepted the job. For years, I taught the students. I taught potions. In fact, I suppose I created most of them. The Draught of Living Death, for example, and several others. It’s such a shame, though. Not many students had a knack for potions. Severus Snape and Lily Evans, however? Well, they were gifted. I hadn’t seen two students so gifted in potions for almost half a century. I was so sorry to hear when they died, but nevertheless, I hope they found peace, wherever they are.’
Ginny was surprised to hear her mention Harry’s Mum, but even more surprised to hear Snape’s name. ‘So… wait. You mean to say that you knew Godric Gryffindor?’ She asked.
‘Knew him? I think I more than knew him, Ginerva,’ said the woman. ‘Oh, it was considered a scandal in those days, to have the sort of relationship we did without being married. But I’d never cared what other people thought, so it made no difference to me, but Godric was stubborn. He told me we should keep our relationship secret, not to tell a single soul. So I never told anyone, no one except Rowena Ravenclaw. She was a dear friend of mine, and I loved her daughter like she was my own. Together, the two of us made quite the pair of witches. Our magic was so powerful we almost didn’t need wands to cast spells. It was us who created the Room of Requirement, you know. Bet they don’t tell you that in your history books.’
Ginny’s mind was whirling, trying to connect the facts. ‘You said that you taught potions at Hogwarts?’ She asked. ‘Did… did you happen to write a book?’
‘One book. But yes, I did. I was extremely skilled at potions, you see. I told you before that I created some of my own, but some of them are very dangerous. All of those potions, I put in my book, and locked it away in the Room of Requirement. I’ll tell you, though, I was extremely proud when Severus found it. Smart man, he was. Locked it in the Headmaster’s office, and no one found it until Voldemort was gone, just as he’d wanted,’ the woman said.
Ginny had a feeling she knew the book that she was talking about. In fact, she was pretty sure she had seen it, in Snape’s office when she tried to steal the Sword of Gryffindor from him. ‘What happened? Between you and Godric, I mean?’ Ginny asked, changing the subject abruptly. She didn’t want to talk about Snape anymore.
‘We married, eventually, when I was around twenty-one,’ she said. ‘We had a daughter, our beautiful Isadora. She was the center of my world. I loved her more than anything. She married, of course, and had children as well. Unfortunately, she was born without any magical abilities, and therefore all of her children and grandchildren were squibs. For years, I thought my magical bloodline had ended, but I was proved wrong several years ago.’
Oh, Merlin, Ginny thought, her head spinning. ‘If you were around all those years ago, how is it that you’re still alive? Did you make a Horcrux, too?’ She asked.
The woman laughed. ‘Oh, no. You see, the closest you can get to immortality is the Philosopher’s Stone, but that is long gone now. The next best thing is, however, drinking the blood of a unicorn. It will prolong your life. So I used unicorn blood, along with a few drops of a simple healing potion, and made the Draught of Immortality. Well, as close to immortality as a human being can get. So far, it’s worked for me. I’ve been alive hundreds of years. But I’m coming close to my end, you see, Ginny Weasley, and I am not quite ready to die just yet,’ she said.
Ginny felt sick. ‘The Draught of Immortality,’ she whispered. ‘How is it Voldemort didn’t know about this?’
‘Well he didn’t look, did he? He just found one thing and decided to go ahead and see if it worked,’ the woman snorted. ‘Very few people know that there is a potion to make you immortal. Rowena Ravenclaw, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall, for example, know of its existence. Two of them are dead. The other will make sure no one finds this information. It could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands.’
‘That potion that Romilda was talking about, the one that turns her into me. It’s not Polyjuice, is it? I’ve heard of potions like that. It’s much stronger and more dangerous than a simple Polyjuice potion,’ Ginny said.
‘Oh, of course it is,’ the woman said, snickering. ‘Nothing is more dangerous than an illusion you cannot see through, a mask you can’t pull off.’
It hit her, then. The name on the book she’d been trying to remember. This woman, this horrible woman, was related to Hermione.
‘Oh, Harry will see through that illusion,’ Ginny said. ‘Romilda can’t keep a secret, remember? And you’ll remember this, Griselda. A measure of darkness may be eradicated by a single ray of light. When I kill you, and when Harry sees through the illusion, you’ll remember that.’
Griselda Granger gave a cold, soft laugh. A laugh that echoed around the room and made all the little hairs on her arms stand up. It felt like someone had just dropped ice down her shirt. She shuddered, rubbing her arms. ‘I hope you enjoy the darkness, Ginerva,’ said Griselda, suddenly sounding very far away.
And then she heard the door close, and she was alone again.
HELLO READERS! I apologize for yet another cliffhanger-- I honestly can't help it-- and I would just like to take the time to say thank you. Thank you, readers, for having faith in me and my story. Without you, this would not have been possible. I've been working at TDHN for almost a year and a half now, and it has been a struggle. I know you guys on HPFF are very, very hardcore, and I appreciate it. Every review I get means the world to me. You really have no idea how much your reviews influence each and every chapter. I don't know where I would be without you, so thank you. Thanks also to Cassie M and Hope F Moore, who guessed that the imposter-Ginny was Romilda Vane. I hope you weren't too disapointed with this chapter! Anyway, there are only nine chapters plus the epilogue remaining. I can't believe I'm amost finished! *crawls into a ball and starts crying* Anyway, thanks for reading, and until next time!