“We belong together, Ginevra.”
She was running, her bare feet slapping against the wet stone of the Chamber of Secrets. Her usual robes were gone, replaced by a gauzy white nightgown. She was freezing and vulnerable, the thin material only seeming to amplify the cold.
Behind her, a monster gave chase.
Not the Basilisk, but something else entirely. A creature of undulating shadow and razor-sharp fangs and a thousand red, slitted eyes, glittering with malice.
She slipped and fell to the ground, a puddle of filthy water splashing around her and soaking her to the bone.
The beast was upon her, she could feel its hot, sulfurous breath on her neck, impressions of glowing-ember eyes and deadly-sharp fangs amid inky darkness.
She fought. She had no wand but she fought anyway, with fist and foot and nail.
“You won’t win,” Tom said, his voice soft and low. He was leaning against a pillar, watching her try to escape the beast with amused detachment.
A concealment band on his left wrist glinted in the dim light as he uncrossed his arms.
“You should just give in, Ginevra.” Tom took a step towards her, and then another. Slow, calm, and measured, uncaring as she fought tooth and nail against a nameless demon.
He knelt next to her, ignoring her thrashing, and grasped her left wrist.
Pain shot through her, freezing fire and electricity surging along her every nerve, radiating from the spot on her wrist where the Mark was.
She screamed, raw and feral, and the demon seized the opportunity and plunged in through her open mouth, down her throat. She felt her body writhing as the demon infiltrated every vein, spreading darkness throughout, until it was as though her marrow had been replaced with shadow.
She lie on the floor of the Chamber, a contradiction. Completely drained of and yet buzzing with energy, simultaneously burning and freezing. Alive and dead.
Tom still held her wrist.
Her naked wrist.
“Silly girl,” he whispered. “You can’t escape. You belong to me.”
Then his eyes flicked to the lightning bolt Mark. “You both do,” he said, softly.
And then he pressed his lips to the inside of her wrist. She opened her mouth to scream, but only inky darkness issued forth.
Ginny woke in a cold sweat, gooseflesh erupting along her arms, a sharp contrast to the sweltering midsummer air wafting in through the open window in her room at the Burrow.
Her wrist burned. For the first time in years, she took the concealment band off.
There were two Marks.
One, a lightning bolt that she’d memorized the shape of, after having traced its remembered form so many times.
The other, a snake in the shape of an “S.”
Both Marks were burning.
The snake, in particular, was a painful, dark red. As she watched, a drop of blood oozed from it, slithering a path down her arm and dripping onto the thin sheet.
The blood looked black in the faint light of the crescent moon, and Ginny felt a chill sweep through her body, horror and dread making a nest in her belly.
The dream, the monster.
She pulled the sheet around herself, and tried to calm her racing heart.
Little did she know, that many many miles to the south, Harry Potter awoke from a dream where Lord Voldemort had killed an old man.
The years passed and she grew. They all did. Her wrist remained covered, and so did Harry’s. She experimented with other boys, and the occasional girl, all with un-Marked wrists. But it was no use, not really.
Not when she knew .
She watched as Harry pined after Cho Chang, his infatuation obvious to everyone. Cho didn’t have a Mark on her wrist at all.
Having a Soul Mark didn’t guarantee romance, though most Marks did have a romantic bond.
The day she won the Quidditch Cup for Gryffindor, the same day Harry Potter stormed back into the Common Room and kissed the breath out of her, was the happiest of her life.
Finally , she thought, finally, we can be together. We can defeat the dark lord and be happy. We can do it together.
The whole world seemed to burst into color, as if her life had been dull and drab before that moment.
She could’ve died happily, then.
“Have you ever taken yours off?” she asked Harry one day in late spring.
He looked at her for a long moment. “No,” he said, at last.
She thought that was all there would be when he followed it up with, “I’ve tried, but it won’t come off. I’ve worn it for as long as I can remember. I don’t even notice it most of the time.”
But he was lying. The knowledge of it surprised her, but she knew it was true. She could sense the lie.
“Do you wonder who it is?” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them, and she immediately felt stupid. Of course he knew. Everyone knew, but pretended they didn’t. The wizarding world’s worst-kept open secret.
He very carefully didn’t look at her. “I think I know who it is.”
She didn’t press, because she knew it, too. The unspoken truth of it hung heavy between them, where they lie in the shade of an old oak tree, overlooking the Black Lake. The spectre of Tom Riddle cast a pall over the sunny day.
Memories of dark, burning eyes in a handsome, pale face rose, unbidden, from where she’d locked them away. A nightmare made flesh, a beast with a thousand burning eyes, yet still not as monstrous as the demon who wore the face of an angel.
Ginny remembered the dream she’d had, one night when she was just thirteen. All the marrow in her bones replaced with darkness while Tom pressed a kiss to her Marked wrist.
Dumbledore was dead.
She and Harry held hands while they attended his funeral, their concealment bands bright in the sun.
“I’m going with you,” she told him, in no uncertain terms, after the service.
They had walked off, away from the rest of the grieving crowd, along the shore of the lake.
Harry didn’t say anything for a long time, but then: “Voldemort uses the people I’m close to. He uses them to get to me.”
He stood on the shore, staring out over the lake. The sunlight glinted off the water, dazzling her eyes. She could tell what he was driving at, but wasn’t about to let that stop her.
He turned to look back at her, his eyes hard with resolve. But she was just as stubborn.
“I’m just as far into this—” at “this” she gestured at his covered wrist “—as you are.”
“No, Harry. Whatever you’re planning on, I’m going with. I have to.”
And then she did something she’d never done with another person around. Something she swore to herself five years ago that she’d never do.
She took out her wand and tapped the concealment band. It fell to the flat stones of the lakeshore with a clatter that sounded unnaturally loud, echoing across the water. Wordlessly, she held up her hand and showed him her Marks.
He stared at them in shock for several long, breathless moments. So long that Ginny began to feel self-conscious. Maybe the lightning bolt didn’t symbolize Harry’s soul, after all? What if this was a mistake?
But Harry’s gaze was fixed upon the snake in the shape of an “S” right next to the lightning bolt.
He crossed the space between them in three steps and made to grab her arm, but stopped himself before he touched her, glancing up to her eyes, silently asking permission.
She nodded, once, slowly.
Harry reached out and gently grasped her forearm. The pad of his thumb traced over the two Marks, slowly, reverently, and there was a small, traitorous moment where she remembered the dream, and Tom kissing her there.
He licked his lips and glanced back up at her, the green of his eyes shockingly bright, like sunlight through leaves on a summer’s day.
Then he let her wrist go, and his next words surprised her.
“Do you know what a Horcrux is?”
Ginny dodged a spell flung at her from Bellatrix Lestrange, and intercepted another meant for Hermione.
Her shields had gotten pretty good over the past few months of traveling and practicing with Harry, Ron, and Hermione while they hunted Horcruxes.
One such Horcrux hung heavy around her neck, since they hadn’t figured out how to destroy it. A locket inscribed with the same snake “S” that appeared on her wrist.
She’d known that Tom was the Heir of Slytherin, but it was another thing to see the evidence so plainly.
Bellatrix cackled madly as Malfoy Manor was destroyed around her. A wild storm of spells cracked the walls and sent chips of marble flying.
Ron aimed a stunner at one of the Lestrange brothers, but was knocked over by a flying divan and lay still.
Ginny screamed, her voice lost in the maelstrom of magic, and tried to scramble over to where he was. But before she could get to him, Hermione let loose a Reducto that took out an entire wall and Bellatrix with it. The shimmer of a Shield Charm amidst the rubble was all that could be seen of Bellatrix.
“Filthy fucking Mudblood!” Rodolphus Lestrange roared, rapidly firing spell after spell directly at Hermione, whose shields were eaten away as fast as she could summon them.
Ginny swept her wand around and Levitated a chunk of stone pillar and flung it at his head. Rabastan Lestrange shattered it before it could hit its mark, and then took aim directly at her.
She dodged behind a broken sofa as a jet of green light soared over her head, so close she could feel its sizzle.
Across the room, Harry was engaged in a duel with Draco Malfoy, the intensity of their curses scorched the floor around them and had set fire to a tapestry.
A horrible, manic cackling came from the direction of the destroyed wall, and there was Bellatrix, standing atop the rubble, her hair wild and eyes crazed.
The air became electrified, the energy crackling along Ginny’s every nerve. Following an instinct she didn’t have time to examine, she cast the strongest Protego she could, and shouted to Harry to do the same.
Bellatrix let fly a storm of spells like lightning in a hurricane. The remaining walls of Malfoy Manor gave a mighty groan and cracked. The wards, which had been anchored to the physical walls, snapped, and the backlash shook the very foundations of the building.
People were Apparating in now that the wards had fallen. Sharp cracks echoed off the broken walls. Many of them wore Death Eater masks, but several were people she recognized as Order members.
From across the wreckage, Ginny caught Hermione’s eye and then looked frantically to where Ron was lying beneath broken furniture, and back to Hermione.
Hermione nodded once, grabbed Ron, who was stirring weakly, and Apparated away.
The shock of the wards breaking had knocked Harry and Malfoy down. Ginny crawled over to Harry, her shield dutifully following along, and reached for his hand.
Before she could even make contact with him pain like she’d never known before coursed along her every nerve, radiating out from...the Mark on her wrist.
She had just enough time to see Malfoy’s eyes widen in terror and he scrambled to prostrate himself on the floor.
Someone was screaming.
She felt hot and cold by turns; freezing fire snaked its way up her arm from her Marked wrist and wormed its way into her heart. The locket was hot, burning against her skin and eating away at the fabric of her shirt. It pulsed as if it were a living heartbeat. I’m dying, she thought. She noticed, in an absent sort of way, that there was blood oozing from underneath the concealment band.
An ice-cold voice spoke from behind her.
“Well, well, well. Isn’t this a lovely sight?”
And then darkness overtook her.
The word was spoken with utter contempt.
Ginny forced her eyes open.
Voldemort loomed over Harry, tall and pale. The burning on her chest was gone: she no longer wore the locket. She was bound in place by a spell, and, looking up through the curtain of her hair, she saw Harry was, too.
They were alone with Voldemort, in a room she didn’t recognize.
Voldemort reached for Harry’s left hand, spidery-thin fingers closing around his wrist and pulling it up.
He examined the concealment band with a sneer on his monstrous face. “Dumbledore’s work, naturally. But now that the old man is dead, it shouldn’t be troublesome to remove.”
He dragged the tip of his wand across Harry’s concealment band, and commanded it to open in Parseltongue. Ginny was not surprised she could still understand the snake language, even though she wasn’t a true Parselmouth. The band fell away, landing upon the stone floor with a clang like the door of a prison slamming closed.
There, exposed to daylight for the first time in what must be sixteen years, Harry’s Soul Marks shone silvery-pale upon the inside of his wrist.
Two Marks: a snake in the shape of an “S,” and a stylized flame.
Harry struggled against the Incarcerous that bound him, but his wand had been taken by Voldemort.
Ginny could only watch, bound by magic, wandless and helpless, as Voldemort traced a long, thin finger over the scar on Harry’s forehead. Harry jerked his head back as far away from Voldemort’s touch as he could and spat in his face.
“Fuck you,” he hissed.
“Language, Harry,” Voldemort chided.
He then used Harry’s own wand to cast a sleep charm on him. Harry struggled against it, but slumped forward, right into Voldemort’s arms.
“Don’t touch him!” Ginny snarled.
Voldemort set Harry down on the floor with surprising gentleness and turned to Ginny next. “You are in no position to tell me what to do, my dear.”
Voldemort was examining the wands in his hands. “I knew, of course, that Harry’s wand and my own shared a core. A feather from the same phoenix.”
He raised his eyes to Ginny, and memories of the Chamber rose up within her, memories she’d buried for years. Memories of a shadowy beast with a thousand burning eyes turning her bones to darkness.
“And your wand, Ginevra, is made of yew, just as mine is. Isn’t that fascinating ?”
He took a step closer to her, and she refused to flinch back.
“I’d known Harry Potter wore my Mark, how could he not? There was a Prophecy about us, after all.” He was now so close that she could see the oblong, slitted pupils of his eyes. “But you? You were a surprise, Ginevra. And yet...you were the one to find my diary. And I found you with another piece of my soul around your throat.”
Then he wrapped icy fingers around her left hand and hissed the same “open” at her wrist. Her band fell away, revealing the snake and the lightning bolt.
He raised his left wrist to show her the same lightning bolt she wore, and the same stylized flame that was Harry’s second Mark.
“I had thought I had no need for a soulmate...but fate, it seems, has given me two, and who am I to deny fate?”
He reached out, and grasped a bit of her hair between his fingers. “Three is a magically potent number, you know.”
And then he turned her own wand against her—as if to add insult to injury—and murmured a sleeping charm.