Tom Marvolo Riddle
7th November 1992
The dark pipe seemed endless. As Mark slowly descended into the depths below the castle, his mind raced with all the possible explanations for why Ginny was going down a secret entrance through the girl's bathroom. And all of them pointed to only one conclusion—that this was the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, and that Ginny was the one who had opened it.
But why? She obviously was not the Heir of Slytherin; unless she wasn't a Weasley. Mark shook his head silently. No, that was ridiculous; besides the family resemblance was too strong. Perhaps you didn't need to be the Heir to enter, and the legend was incorrect. But then, why would Ginny want to attack Mr Filch's cat? What had he done to upset her? Plus, she didn't seem the vindictive sort. If she had anything against Filch, she probably would have pranked the hell out of him, not used some dangerous magic.
His thoughts were interrupted as he reached the base of the stairs. Clutching his wand tightly, he squinted to see if he had been noticed. There was no one around. Steeling himself, he walked softly through the large, damp tunnel he found himself in, heading for the general direction of the cold draft that he felt. After a while, something crunched under his feet.
Mark stood completely still, his heart thumping wildly in his chest. Closing his eyes, he tried to sense if anyone had heard the noise. After a couple of seconds—which felt like an eternity to Mark's adrenaline addled brain—he finally relaxed. There was no sign that he had been spotted. Since he couldn't exactly use a Lumos spell, Mark gently bent down and felt for what it was that had crunched under his feet.
Bones. Small bones, belonging to rats and the like. Something had eaten them and left the remains here. That meant there was a predator—which meant that the legend had been right. Another ball of lead settled into Mark's stomach as he gulped down his fear. The monster of the chamber had been real after all. He tried to reassure himself that it was most likely dead now, after a thousand years. It didn't exactly work.
Mark heard the loud hissing noises once again, and they were coming from up ahead. Taking a deep breath, he wiped his now sweaty palms on his trousers. Crouching, he evened his weight on the floor below and crept ahead. His wand was almost twitching, and he could swear he was able to hear the sound of the water behind the damp walls of the tunnel; Mark reckoned it must be underneath the Black Lake.
Soon he reached the end of the tunnel, and his eyes were met with an incredible sight. A huge entrance stood in front of him, bordered by carvings of snakes on a greenish stone. The eyes of each serpent were adorned with a blackish gemstone of some sort—probably agate or obsidian. Mark shivered slowly as he averted his gaze—the black beady eyes of reptiles was exactly what creeped him out the most.
Trying to ignore the otherwise imposing entrance, Mark tried focusing behind it. On the other side lay a long and dimly lit room. Its ceiling was high; so high that it disappeared into the shadows, held up by towering stone pillars adorned with even more carved serpents. There was no doubt in his mind anymore; this was Salazar Slytherin's Secret Chamber.
The hissing drew Mark's attention again and he looked towards its source—Ginny. There she was, standing at the far end of the chamber, her flaming red hair bathed under the odd, greenish gloom that filled the place. Bile threatened to rise up Mark's throat as his mind began to accept the implications of what he was seeing, and a sudden urge to just barge in and confront Ginny hit him like a train. Yet, he somehow managed to fight it, the curious and tactical side of his mind winning over with the simple reasoning that it was wiser to just observe for now. Clenching his fist, he silently crept into the chamber and quickly made his way to the closest stone pillar for cover. Peering around to keep an eye on Ginny, he mentally began to map his surroundings.
The chamber was paved with smooth tiled stone, interspersed with the towering stone pillars he had seen before. Mark noticed that they weren't laid out in a linear fashion; instead, they seemed to be placed in some sort of alternating pattern—probably hexagonal. Each of them had an ornate bracket made of blackish metal, on which hung magical torches glowing with a greenish flame. Their placement provided an opportunity for Mark; since the torches were about ten feet off the ground, the immediate space around each pillar was still in shadows. If Mark moved from one pillar to the next, he could manage to get near Ginny without being noticed. Maybe even —
The hissing interrupted his thoughts again; only this time, it hadn't come from Ginny. It was much louder and deeper, with a feral undertone that made Mark's blood run cold. There was no doubt in Mark's heart anymore—it had belonged to the monster.
As Mark peered at the end of the chamber, he suddenly noticed a massive statue standing against the wall—so massive that its features just seemed like the part of the wall. He had to crane his neck upwards to even see its head. Squinting his eyes against the dark, he studied its face. It had an ancient and apish undertone to it, with a beard that was longer and thinner than Headmaster Dumbledore. Mark realised that this must be a statue of Salazar Slytherin himself.
It was fortunate that Mark's gaze was fixed on the statue's head, for what happened next would have given him a heart attack otherwise. A rumbling sound of grinding stone echoed through the chamber as the statue of Salazar Slytherin opened its mouth to reveal a gaping hole within, the sound of Ginny's hissing mixing in with it like an other-worldly chant.
Mark had had enough. Deciding that there was sufficient cause to justify it, he closed his eyes and opened up his legilimency to its full extent—the first time he had done so since the encounter with Quirrell in June. As the flood poured in, his mind began to finally interpret the hissing sounds Ginny was making.
"— take care of the Mudbloods in the name of Salazar, greatest of the Hogwarts Four. And remember to lower your eyelids as you present yourself."
The reply came promptly, from a mind much too large and much too simple to be human.
"As you command, master."
Mark opened his eyes again, and a small part of him immediately wished that he hadn't. The mouth of the statue was fully open now, and from the huge black hole that had been revealed emerged the monster of Slytherin; an enormous serpent, with a foul greenish skin and body as thick as a tree. As it slithered down the body of the statue like a horrific reptilian vomit, Mark estimated that it was nearly forty feet long.
Finally, the snake coiled down on the floor at the base of the statue, bowing its head down in submission. As Ginny had instructed, its eyes were shut. For what reason, Mark had no clue. Soon, Ginny began hissing again.
"Good. Today we shall resume the work I began all those years ago. Once the purification process is underway, we will strike —"
Mark literally stepped back in surprise. Years ago? Ginny was eleven. There was no way she could have come here before. None of this was making any sense, and Mark furiously racked his brain for any explanation that did. Lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice that he was no longer in cover.
"Well, well, well."
It took a moment for Mark to realise that the voice was speaking English; when it did, a cold chill ran through his back. He looked up to see Ginny standing in front of him with her head cocked, a slight smirk on her face
"What do we have here?"
It was Ginny's voice. But something was off about it. As if someone else was —
'Of course,' Mark said to himself, as the penny dropped. Suddenly everything made sense, giving him the answer that had been in front of him the whole time: Ginny was being possessed.
"Just your friend Mark," he finally replied, now standing up straight. "You recognise me, don't you, Ginny?"
"Ah. The mudblood," said Ginny. "Friends? You think I would stoop so low to actually be friends with you?"
"No, not you," said Mark. "But Ginny considers me a friend. Whoever you are, you're not welcome. It's time for you to leave her."
Mark clutched his wand tighter as he saw Ginny cackle in front of him. Twirling her wand in her hand she turned back at him.
"But I didn't force my way in, Smith. She let me into her heart. Pouring out all her emotions, like the naïve little girl she is."
So Mark was right. The girl in front of him wasn't Ginny—not completely anyways. Not when her voice was colder and sinister than anything he had ever heard before. Suddenly, she turned to him with a psychotic glee on her face
"Oh Tom, I feel so alone," said the girl in front of him, mocking his friend in her own tender voice. "No one's ever understood me like you, Tom … I'm so glad I've got you to confide in."
Whoever this Tom was, he was the one possessing Ginny right now. Somehow, he had gotten a hold of Ginny. Somehow gotten her to confide in him. But how? Where did he meet her? Someone might have noticed wouldn't —
"That diary she was writing in—that's how you did it!" Mark exclaimed, seething in anger. "You sick son of a bitch," he spat.
Tom cackled through Ginny once again, and something of that laugh felt familiar to Mark.
"Right in one. And confide she did. She poured her soul into that diary and opened herself for me to take hold in return. Of course, she had no idea what was happening." Tom added as an afterthought.
"Dear Tom, I think I'm losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don't know how they got there—Dear Tom, I can't remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and my hands are stained red."
Mark watched Tom as he mocked Ginny's innocence. Tom. Why was that name familiar? Something about this whole situation was ringing bells in his head—reeking of déjà vu. Possession, unnatural red eyes, the name Tom —
"It's you, isn't it?" said Mark, the pieces finally falling into place. "You're Voldemort."
"Impressive. I didn't think a mudblood like you would figure it out," said Tom, a mild expression of amusement on Ginny's face. "Yes, I am him. But then Ginny did speak a lot about you. How you seemed to be the only one in Hogwarts with any concern about her. You nearly foiled my plans, you know."
"That's not true. She has family here. Friends."
Mark noticed that Ginny's eyes flashed back to their usual warmth for a sliver of a moment before reverting back to their previous cold self.
"Really?" asked Tom/Ginny. "Brothers who haven't spoken to her since the welcoming feast? Who didn't notice their sister disappearing off after curfew? Who didn't notice her fading health, as I begin to claim her soul for my own?"
"So that's how you tricked her? Trying to turn her against those that she cares for?" asked Mark. "Just because nobody seemed to give you any love, you decided others shouldn't get it either?"
The cold eyes behind Ginny flashed in recognition, and Mark realised that he had touched a nerve. Alright then. Two could play this game.
"I'm right, aren't I? Let me guess. Abusive parents?" Mark shook his head after a moment. "No, that would make you yearn for love," he remarked, pacing a bit as he thought. "Now, an orphan? That's possible. Maybe —"
"This is quite the interesting analysis, Smith," Tom/Ginny interrupted, "but I'm afraid I must cut it short. There are—things—that need to be done."
Mark stopped pacing and turned to face Tom.
"Not before you leave Ginny."
"Really? And what if I refuse?" Tom scoffed in amusement. Mark gave a smirk as he projected directly into Ginny's mind.
'Then I'll kick you out.'
"Impossible" Tom/Ginny hissed, before being bombarded by a mental message much stronger than the one before.
'Ginny,' Mark projected with as much force as he could muster. 'Listen to me. Throw off Tom's control. You can do it. Focus on yourself.'
"You dare —" Tom/Ginny spluttered before clutching her head and crying out in pain.
It was working. Ginny was fighting back. Mark watched from the side-lines as Ginny stumbled around in pain. After a moment she looked straight at him, her brown eyes struck with fear
"Basilisk. The eyes. Don't look."
The next moment, Tom took back control, the cold red eyes full of hatred. Still clutching his head.
A slow rumbling was audible, and Mark could make out the Serpent slithering its way towards him. A Basilisk. What did that even mean? 'Don't look.' If that was the information Ginny thought the most important to share, he would heed by it. As Mark shut his eyes closed, he heard Tom hiss again.
"His eyes are closed. Your stare won't work. Hunt him."
Well, that eliminated all the other possible courses of action. Mark had only one alternative left; he needed to kill the snake before it killed him. Trusting his instincts, Mark fired of the strongest spell he knew towards it before sprinting off in the opposite direction.
It must not have done any damage whatsoever since he heard Tom speak through Ginny again.
"You seriously believe a spell like that would affect a beast as powerful as a Basilisk. Its hide is impenetrable. It seems as though Ginny was—aaugh"
Ginny. She must be trying to fight again. As he ran for his life, Mark racked his brain. He needed a way to get rid of the bloody snake, and he needed a way to help Ginny regain control of herself. And he needed to do it before he was snake feed.
Running blindly as he was, he struck his shoulder on a nearby pillar and almost stumbled.
"Fuck," Mark groaned.
Priority number one—need to figure out some way to navigate safely. By now, Mark had a pretty good guess what the Basilisk could do. Both Tom and Ginny mentioned the snake's eyes, so it was likely that the Basilisk had some form of lethal stare. That was what he had to work around. But how? He needed to think of some idea to track the snake's head, some brainwave to —
Brainwave! That's how. His legilimency could help him focus on the snake's mind—and by extension, its head. Maybe he could even push it back, slow it down somehow. Using every ounce of his concentration, Mark focused on the reptilian mind currently pursuing him. He tried squeezing in on it, just like he had with Quirrell, hoping to maybe overwhelm it.
It didn't work. All he managed to do was anger the great serpent, who began pulling back to strike with a lunge.
'Shit' Mark thought as he dived to the left, the huge head of the Basilisk missing him by a few inches. As he stumbled onto the ground, Mark felt the serpent pull back, this time slower than before. It was readying itself for a satisfying kill.
This was it. He was about to die.
Against his better instincts, Mark squinted slightly at the beast. Its mouth was wide open, its insides adorned with fangs long and thin as sabres, waiting to sink into his soft flesh —
Wait. Open mouth? Acting by itself, Mark's hand rose and aimed his wand at the roof of the Basilisk's mouth.
"Nooooo!" Tom cried out in anger as the Basilisk was thrown back by the force of the spell, its blood spewing out of its mouth in a wide shower of red. It was all the distraction Ginny needed, and she pushed back onto Tom.
Ginny cursed herself. Why did she have to be so stupid and write in that diary? Her father had told her many times before: Never trust anything that had a mind of its own. Why didn't she listen?
'Stupid girl. Do you really believe you had any chance of resisting me? I enchanted that diary Ginevra, I, the Heir of Slytherin and the greatest sorcerer in the world. You never stood any chance.'
'So, it's true? What Mark said? You're V-V — You-Know-Who'
'Yes, Ginevra. You see now, why it is futile for you to try and resist? You cannot beat me. It is inevitable.'
'I thought you were my friend. I trusted you. With my thoughts, with my feelings, with —'
'Yes, you did. You played your part beautifully, dear. I had not planned on taking complete control so soon, but now it will be easier this way. It will end soon.'
The next moment, Ginny felt as if she was being squeezed inside a winch, Tom's presence trying to push its way back into her mind.
'Help me,' she begged wildly. 'Help me—please'
'No one is coming, Ginevra. Your mudblood friend can't help you anymore. He may have managed to kill Salazar's Serpent, but it was mere luck. Once I take over, I will kill him for his insolence.'
"NO!" Ginny pushed back with all her might. Tom faltered for a moment, and she managed to throw him out.
The moment she regained control of her body, she frantically reached out in her robes for the Diary. She was about to toss it away when she heard it again.
'You cannot escape me, Ginevra. YOU'RE MINE.'
Not again. She couldn't keep him away any longer. Tears trickled down her face as she began to accept her fate.
"Ginny?" Mark called out.
"I can't. He's too strong. The Diary—I'm so—so tired," she mumbled, trying to convince herself of her own failure.
"GINNY!" she heard Mark call out, but she was done. There was no way out. No other —
Her thoughts were interrupted. Something landed in front of her with a loud clatter. It was a fang, from the mouth of the basilisk. She turned and looked at Mark, who seemed to be trapped under the body of the dead snake. He looked straight into her drooping eyes.
Ginny's eyes travelled back to the fang, her right arm inching slowly to grab it. She wrapped her hand around it and looked at the Diary in her left.
'Will you do that to me?' Tom spoke to her once again, in the same friendly tone that she was familiar with—that he had befriended her in. 'Me, who cared for you when no one did? You need me, Ginny, just like I need you.'
'No, you don't,' said Mark's voice, entering her consciousness like a jet of cold water. 'You're strong Ginny. You don't need him, or anyone else. Friendship isn't born out of need but from want. What is it that you want?'
"To be free," she whispered.
"Stop this madness at once. You are just a silly little girl, who doesn't know what's good for her. Know your place, Ginevra. You will put that down at once and —"
But Ginny couldn't take it further. She thrust the fang into the Diary, her anger and frustration finding their target. And it did. The Diary screamed—a long, dreadful, piercing scream. She knew it worked because she felt Tom's pain; felt him writhing and twisting as ink spurted out of the Diary in torrents.
It was done. He was gone. It was like a huge boulder had been lifted off her head, her mind finally free to think for itself in weeks. There was silence once more, except for the steady drip of ink from the diary. Ginny looked down at it. The fang had done its job wonderfully, burning a sizzling hole right through the pages. She was free.
The realization hit Ginny like a ton of bricks, and tears started streaming down her face. Her body rocked as she sobbed, guilt finding its way to her heart.
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