Skeletons From The Closet
Spider Cider | Elijah J. Sage
Chapter Zero ~ Prologue ~ The Ritual
When she opens her eyes she is met with darkness, as if she had not managed to open them in the first place. Her head is fuzzy and throbbing, a painful headache blossoming across her fevered brain, as though tiny fairies have taken residence in her skull to pull coils of razor wire ever tighter around her head. Her mouth tastes coppery, but whether it is the the taste of her blood or not is up for debate. Chilly air cocoons around her, bathing every inch of her skin, as if to make her aware she wears no clothing despite the fact she can not see to know. Her limbs feel sluggish and heavy, as if made of lead, when she tries to move them to cover herself, and they catch on chains before they come close to providing cover. Panic rises in her like a storm. She jerks at the chains with all her might, tries and fails to call to her magic, but it is no use. Her magic has been cut off, and the chains are too strong.
Ginevra Molly Weasley screams.
She screams, and screams, and screams, struggling against the chains in the darkness, until her voice is raw and hoarse, and her wrists and ankles bleed, and the screaming gives way to scared sobbing. She doesn't know how long she lays there, crying, choking on her tears, but eventually she stops, the sound of silence ringing in her ears. She feels hopeless, helpless, in ways she hasn't felt since her first year at Hogwarts. Possessed, coerced, practically mind raped by the charming mask of a younger Voldemort. She had hoped never to feel this way again.
A clicking noise sounds, and all of a sudden bright light floods her vision, causeing her to hiss almost vampirically as she slams her eyelids shut and turns her head fast enough to cause pain in her neck. Someone chuckles darkly, a masucline tone of amusement, a perverted mockery of a familiar laugh she can't place.
Ginny opens one eye and gazes out, past the curtain of long red hair, and past the brightness, to the room she is in. In the dim light she can see the curved stone walls of a tunne, caked with grime and mostiure. There is a foul smell to the air, she had realized this before, but now she realizes it has the same moldy, wet, smell of the chamber of secrets. The stone walls are eerily similar too, but Ginny knows it is impossible for her to be there. Only Voldemort, his body burried deep underneath Hogwarts so no one can find it, and Harry, who no one has seen since Voldemort's demise and burial only a scare little more than a year ago, had the ability to speak parseltongue.
She twists her head to the other side, cringing away from the sudden touch to her face, a caress of her pale freckled cheek. There is a tall gilded mirror laying on its side, the broken glass giving her a perfect veiw of herself, naked and afraid, and the table she is chained to. It is no table. The cold metal at her back is a casket, one that should be burried deep under the dirt, surrounded by impenetrable wards. She lays like a sacrifice on Voldemort's coffin, a light shining down to illuminate her, a dark figure standing menacingly on the other side, his head cut off by the frame of the mirror.
"Have you figured out where you are yet, dear Ginevra?" The soft voice asks, and it isn't Tom Riddle's voice, but it isn't dissimilar either.
"The chamber of secrets." She says, calm as she can manage, her voice cracked and harsh from her screaming.
"Correct." The voice is praising, mockingly proud. "Clever girl."
A finger trails her cheek, long, pale, slender, with a blackened nail filed to a claw like point. She recognizes that hand, and it is not Voldemort's hand as she feared. In fact, faced with the pale silver pink lettering on the back of that hand, she fears for her life more than ever.
"What ever happened to you Harry?" She whispers.
The bitter laugh is terrifying and cold. Ginny forces herself to finally look at her long thought to be dead friend. He looks awful. Gaunt, and skeletal, and pale as Voldemort. His hair is ratted, and mangy, and oily, as if he hasn't washed it since they last saw each other. His eyes glow in his sunken in wasted face like avada kedavra beacons, surrounded by dark bruise colored circles, as if he hasn't slept since then, or eaten for that matter, either. She feels paralyzed by fear, and yet she pities him all at once.
"Tell me Gin, do you believe in soulmates?" He asks. "Do you think that two people could be meant for each other, meant to be together, in every incarnation of their lives. Is it possible for two souls to be so connected, so perfectly made for one another, that no one else could ever compare in their eyes?" The beautiful words are blasphemous coming from such a horrifying visage, in such a horrible plac, rather than innocent and poetic as they should sound.
She knows he doesn't want her lies, so she thinks carefully before answering, just as the silence began to be oppressive. "I think, I want to believe in soulmates, who doesn't want such a thing, but I also believe that there would be some sort of proof if there were."
The ghost of a man Harry has become laughs, a raspy death rattle more than a laugh. "In literature, when soulmates meet, their souls touch, and they are forever bound to one another, like the sun and moon in endless chase, until they inevitably come together. When faced with someone so perfect there are only two options. Kiss or kill. Fight or fuck."
Ginny blanches, suddenly aware with startling clarity just where he is going.
"My soul was created to match Tom Riddle's soul." He says. "You see, he left a piece of his soul inside me, and I cannot live without his soul touching mine. He was like the sun, shining down upon my dark world, always there in the background, a threatening presence, yes, but always lingering. He burned so brightly to me that all others were invisible next to his resplendence, and I didn't know until I had killed him. I didn't know until I stopped being able to feel. No soulmate can survive the loss of their other half, the one who makes up not only their world, but their galaxies as well."
"But what does that have to do with me?" She asks. "Why did you kidnap me? Why are we in the chamber? What reason did you have to chain me to Voldemort's casket?"
Deadly green eyes sparkle menacingly. "Before the invention of the Time Turner, there were other ways to travel in time." He answers in a calm quiet voice. "It was one of many dark and dangerous rituals of death and blood dating back to the Roman age at least, the secret of the Peverell family, later passed down to the houses Valencia, Potter, and Gaunt, and lost to time and legend. It's an odd tale, the tale of the Valencia family. Will you listen?"
Ginny stays silent, but she nods placidly to show her obedient listening, unable to speak for fear she will upset her no longer sane friend. She knows little about the Valencia family, only what her mother and father spoke to them in cautionary tales as children.
"You know by now the story of my ancestors, the Peverell three, for I shouted the tale loudly enough during my duel with Tom a year ago." Harry says, a far off look on his malnourished face. "Antioch Peverell was believed to have no children, but it is in fact a lie. He bore one child to a woman of the Black house, a squib daughter. In a bid to strengthen the magic in their line, she went on to breed with a creature, the kind long lost to time. Every child after her bred a new creatuure into their line, to gain more power, until all traces of human were wiped away, and in the place of a noble family stood a hybrid abomination of a woman, a monster, feirce and cruel and demented, a perversion of nature and magic. She was cast out, a secret lost to the muggle world. A muggle man took pity upon her, treating her with kindness, and she grew to love hom, and he loved her. The child born of their union was the first of his kind, an inhuman wizard of such darkness and power they could only fear him. He was the first of the Ancient and Noble house Valencia, a Dark Lord not spoken of in the history books. The Valencia family was known to be a vicious and cruel family, proficient in magic dealing with death, blood, disease, and pain. It was no secret they were dark, some said the darkest family to ever walk the earth. The secrets of their family never left their knowledge, and it was never shared, as the Valencia family was known to only marry and breed with those of the Valencia name. Sisters, brothers, cousins, it was no wonder that, in the end, they barely had enough magic to scrape out of the barel. So to speak. The last of their family known to be born was a man called Nikolai Octavian Valencia, born October 12, 1845. He died at eighty two years old, with no children to his name. His sister Margot, younger by twenty and a half years, was a squib, sent into the muggle world at eleven and given the surname White. Margot Magnolia White married Bradly Brewer, and died in childbirth before she could talk to him of magic. Their daughter Rosemary Brewer married Edward Evans, and their daughters were my mother and aunt, Lily Margot and Petunia Magnolia."
Ginevra gasps. "Your mother was a Valencia?"
She had never even considered the possibility, but having heard, she can only believe it. Hadn't many Valencia children been born with eyes the same shade as the curse they were so famous for creating? A sign of their cursed family. Hadn't Harry somehow survived the impossible? Lily Evans Potter could have used a blood magic ritual lost to time. It is more than believable. It is scary how believable it is.
"She was." He smiles. It is the cruel hungry smile of a hyena staring down a baby gazelle. "I learned of my family history after a particularly enlightening trip to Gringotts, in which my parents' wills were read. You see, my mother learned from a book shortly prior to her fifth year a controversial bit of information regarding how muggleborns gain their magic. It was theorized that they get it from a squib relative, and Lily was eagar to find proof. Imagine how surprised she was to learn that her grandmother, her namesake, was a squib of a family feared and renowned as darker than all others. Despite her fear and hesitance, she nade it her mission up until her death to gather every lost book, every dark artifact, and replace them in the Valencia vaults. She suceeded in that task, and vowed to tell my father of her deeds, though she feared his reaction. She never got the chance. No one knew, but my mother died as Lily Margot Valencia Potter, Lady of the Most Ancient and Noble House Valencia."
Ginny nods, eager to hear more, almost forgetting her dire situation.
"Now, my ramblings have strayed far from the path they need to be on. I imagine you are still lost." Harry draws up an old tome Ginny had not seen, cracked letter and yellow pages groaning as he flips it open. The book coughs out a cloud of dust and cobwebs. "One of the books my mother rediscovered was a journal of spells, potions, and rituals created by the Hadrianus Antioch Valencia, the great grandfather of Nikolai Valencia, and the man I am named after, though James only knew that he was a relative. In it, he had modified an old family ritual of time travel to allow someone to be reborn up to one hundred years in the past, with all thier memories. It was only a theoretical ritual. It has never been tested, but it is my only hope."
Ginny is no Ravenclaw, but she is smart. The answer comes with the same startling clarity as before, when she knew without having to ask that he would be claiming Tom Riddle as his soul's other half. "Then, am I to assume that you have set up the ritual to be reborn in Tom's time, most likely as the son of Nikolai Valencia, considering you have mentioned him a few times?"
"Clever girl." He praises again. "Since you are so smart, I'll give you three guesses as to why you are here."
Ginny thinks. "You need a virgin sacrifice?"
He barks out a laugh that is actually the exact laugh she remembers falling in love with when they were still in school together. "Wrong. I already completed most of the ritual, including the sacrifice bit, and you are no virgin." She grins despite herself. "I'll give you a hint. It is the last step, the last ingredient of a potion I will be taking, in order to send my soul and memories back in time."
"Not death." She says. "My blood then?"
Harry taps his nose with a wink. "I need the willingly given blood of a woman, a sister in bond if not blood, drawn from her still beating heart as she draws her last breath, upon the tomb of a lover dead by my hand, in a place of magical significance to all of us."
He turns the book to show her the written proof, and the handwriting is like a mocking conversion of Tom Riddle's elegant scrawl and Harry's own spidery hasty script. Some of the ingredients to this ritual potion are horrible, like the ground bones of his father taken at least ten years after death, but others are not so bad. They all have stipulations, like hers, things that make them harder to find than they could be.
Suddenly she feels empowered. She is the one in control here, for all that she is chained. A simple denial and Harry won't be able to complete this potion. He won't complete the ritual. It stings, knowing he sees her only as a sister, but she understands, more than any other could. She was once in love with Tom Riddle too. He... Harry's whole life has been dictated by this man, he has always been there. Fir Harry to love him, after all that he had done, it makes her want to help. It makes her want to do this.
"A kiss then." Harry raises a surprised eyebrow. "That is the price of my heart, my blood, and my life. A kiss, and the promise that you make it quick. I do not wish to suffer needlessly. I trust you to keep your end of the bargain, and I want you to trust me without a vow."
"I can't use any magic that is not part of the ritual anyways." Harry says. "Hence the chains and the lamp instead of spells."
"Why can't I find my magic, if you aren't blocking it?" Ginny asks, and the grin she recives is terrifying.
"Fear." He smiles. "Why do you think I set everything up as I did? Plus, you had not eaten in five days by the time you awoke, and I left you alone for another two, screaming and struggling, just to see how long you would fight."
Once more, she is reminded that this is not her Harry. This is the cruel desperate version that was born of killing Voldemort. She sits as he removes the chains, and rubs her raw bloodied wrists and ankles. Harry gathers her in his arms, and kisses her.
It is everything she ever hoped for, just as wonderful and breathtaking as their first kiss, and stars shine behind her eyes. How cruel a fate, she thinks, to know that she is not her soulmate's soulmate. No one kisses her like Harry does, and no one ever will again. It is perfect for a good bye, perfect for a last kiss.
A sharp pain in her chest makes her gasp and pull back, but she can not stray far in the cage of his arms. She looks down in shock at the needle protruding out of her chest, and all of a sudden she feels a tingling on her kips that isn't from the kiss, and a her heart beat seems to slow swiftly as she starts to grow weak.
"Poison?" She asks.
"Can't use any spells." He reminds her. "It's quick. You won't feel any pain. It's like going to sleep."
"I'm scared." She whispers.
"Shut your eyes." Harry says. "Pretend you're just going to sleep."
She does as he asks, and Harry hums a mournful song. Ginny listens to the sound of his voice, the steady beating of his heart, and slowly lets herself be pulled into the sweet arms of death.