Ginny Weasley was only ten when her first Soul Mark appeared. It shone bright silver on her wrist for a full three minutes before fading into a dull white scar shaped like a lightning bolt.
It was September first, she was on Platform 9 ¾, and she had just seen Harry Potter for the first time.
When she showed her mother the Mark on her wrist, her mother hugged her tight. At the time, Ginny didn’t understand why she looked so worried, or why she was so quick to use a concealment charm on her wrist.
Soul Marks weren’t common, but they weren’t unheard-of, either.
That night, as she was about to settle in to bed, she overheard her mum and dad speaking in soft voices.
She crept toward the edge of the landing and held very still, listening, as she’d seen Fred and George do.
“And you’re sure it’s a lightning bolt, Molly?” she heard her father ask. His voice was weighed down by uncharacteristic worry.
“I’m positive, I saw it plain as day. I can only hope no one else noticed in the shuffle.”
“Maybe it means something else? Some one else?”
“Who else could it mean, Arthur?”
“I’ve just never heard of it happening when someone is already Marked,” Dad said.
That took Ginny aback. Already Marked? As far as she knew, she only had the one Soul Mark, and she’d never heard of one appearing anywhere other than the inside of the left wrist. She spent a moment looking over both arms and legs, just in case.
The next words her mother said stopped her cold, just as she was inspecting the underside of her right knee.
“Everyone knows by now that the symbol that represents Harry Potter’s soul is a lightning bolt. And everyone knows that his Mark is You-Know-Who.” There was a quiet sound—a sob—and her mother continued. “That poor boy…”
Ginny rubbed at the spot on her wrist, just over the concealment band Mum had put on her when they’d gotten home. Her elation over knowing she had a soulmate was eclipsed by the revelation he was already Marked by another. A bitter hatred swept through her, the force of which almost knocked the breath out of her. You-Know-Who. What a stupid name!
Ginny only realized later, much later, what she was too young to understand when she was ten.
It was September first, and Ginny Weasley was eleven. It had been a year to the day since her Soul Mark first appeared.
Harry Potter had been staying with them for a couple of weeks now, and Ginny was still too afraid to talk to him. She dreamed of saying something funny that would make him laugh, but every time she tried, she caught a glimpse of his covered wrist and stumbled over her words.
Did he know? Did he have any idea at all? He was raised by Muggles, and they didn’t have soulmates. According to Ron, Harry hadn’t known anything at all about the Wizarding world before he got his Hogwarts letter, so she rather doubted his Muggle family told him about soulmates. They certainly didn’t seem to treat him very well, judging by how thin and pale he was when her brothers brought him home with them. (In a flying car! She would’ve loved to be part of that rescue!)
She avoided the problem by hiding out, mostly, and writing in her diary.
The diary was her new favorite thing, and was incredibly special.
It wrote back to her.
She’d discovered it, an old and battered thing with the words “T. M. Riddle” inscribed in the front, stuffed into one of her second-hand spellbooks after they’d returned home from Diagon Alley.
From the moment she touched it, warmth suffused her very being, as if the diary was calling out to her soul—as silly as that sounded.
She thought, even then, that she’d felt something, a tingling on her covered wrist. Maybe she’d even seen a light from underneath edge of the concealing band, but it had been hard to tell in the sunshine streaming in through her bedroom window.
And that was silly, anyway, why would her Soul Mark react to a diary?
“Ginny! It’s time to leave!” Mum called up the stairs, and Ginny jumped. A splotch of ink blotted out the word she was about to write.
In the chaos of six students getting ready for school, she nearly left it behind.
Tom was so kind, advising her on how to handle her unfortunately large crush on Harry Potter (and if he seemed particularly interested in Harry, well, that didn’t seem strange to Ginny)
Tom was so handsome, a small, traitorous part of Ginny thought, when he showed her the memory of himself asking the headmaster at the time if he could stay at Hogwarts for the summer.
It turned out he was an orphan, just like Harry. She even sneaked a glance at his wrist out of curiosity, but it was bare. Most people didn’t have a Soul Mark, after all.
Tom was from the past, only a memory preserved in a diary. She didn’t know who he grew up to be, if he’d followed his dreams or faded into obscurity.
She wracked her brain trying to think if she knew any wizards named Tom Riddle, but the only Tom she could think of was the one who owned the Leaky Cauldron.
She made a face and dismissed that thought immediately.
It was Halloween and Ginny was terrified.
She couldn’t remember what she’d been doing last night. In fact, most nights had become a blur. She would wake up and realize her schoolwork had been done, without any memory of doing it.
There were rooster feathers on her bed one morning, and blood under her fingernails, and no amount of scrubbing seemed to remove it.
Someone had opened the Chamber of Secrets and now there was a monster on the loose. It had attacked Mr. Filch’s cat. Ginny felt horrible about that; though no one else seemed to like Mrs. Norris, Ginny loved all cats.
Tom was so sweet, listening to her worries, but in this case, he seemed unusually dismissive.
“First year is always rough,” Tom assured her, his flowing, elegant script rising to the surface of the paper.
It wasn’t until February that Ginny decided to be rid of Tom’s diary for good.
Tom Riddle was a liar.
Tom Riddle had not faded into obscurity but rather grew up to be the darkest wizard that ever lived.
Ginny lay on the cold stone floor of the Chamber of Secrets, feeling her life leach away, the connection she’d had with the diary giving Tom the strength he needed to live again.
She’d given Tom too much of herself.
Distantly, she could hear Tom and Harry talking over her. She wanted to open her mouth, to speak, to scream, but she was trapped in the prison of her own dying body. Their voices were distorted, as if she were hearing them from underwater.
Harry’s fingers brushed her left wrist, just over the band, and there was a moment where her fading senses sharpened to a point centered on her Soul Mark. Maybe if he kept contact with her, she could wake up. But she felt him snatch his hand back as if it’d been burned.
The cold of the Chamber seeped into her bones. She was numb; feeling nothing but the slowing beat of her own heart and a residual warmth on her left wrist.
“Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted...” Tom was saying.
Darkness stole over her senses, snuffing them out one by one, like candles in the dark. She’d heard once, that sound was the last thing to go before you died. Tom and Harry’s conversation receded into the distance.
I really am dying, then , she thought. The faces of her family flashed in her mind’s eye.
And then she knew nothing more.
...Not until she, impossibly, awoke, with Harry kneeling over her, and the warmth rushing back into her body.
He was holding her hand, and she burst into tears.
Tom Riddle was dead.
Part of him, anyway. The part that was in the diary. The rest of him was, according to Professor Dumbledore, somewhere in Albania.
No one else seemed to notice Professor Dumbledore’s glance darting from Tom’s diary to Harry’s wrist and back. But Ginny did.
Her gaze lingered on the diary, now only an empty vessel, and a wretched part of her wondered what had really become of Tom. His voice rose, unbidden, in her memory: “Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her …”
She shivered in the warm room, wrapping her arms around herself. The cold was coming from within, as if she were carrying a piece of the Chamber in her heart. Maybe she couldn’t warm herself, but she could try to keep it contained.
That day, as she stood in Dumbledore’s office, getting berated by her worried parents, Ginny decided that she would never tell Harry about her Soul Mark.