Author's Note: To those about to read this I offer a warning. This is a side fic to "Lily and the Art of Being Sisyphus", specifically from chapter 25-50, so if you're not that far I highly recommend you do not partake in this fic.
It wasn't a diary Ginny would have chosen for herself. It was a rather plain thing, dull, black, perfect for a very serious boy but not so much for her. She imagined that it'd been perfect for Tom M. Riddle, whose name was inscribed in elegant, faded, writing on the inside cover. But things gotten second hand never fit quite right, and Ginny was used to secondhand things.
Ron got the worst of it, being the youngest son where Ginny was just the youngest daughter, but she was used to things not quite fitting. She was used to everything never belonging to just her. So, when she'd found the diary in her cauldron, she hadn't asked for a different one, she hadn't asked what she'd done to get a diary at all.
Ginny was well aware that Ron hadn't gotten a diary when he'd gone off to Hogwarts. He hadn't even gotten his own wand.
Not that Ron had ever wanted a diary, or that she'd wanted one either. Too many brothers around the house to read through it and ferret out all her secrets. Leaving around a diary was just handing Fred and George infinite ammunition and Ginny wasn't that stupid.
At the same time, it could be nice. It'd be someone to talk to at least. Last year, when even Ron had been off in school, it'd been so quiet. Ginny hadn't realized how big and empty the Burrow was until everyone had gone and left. The only reprieve from it had been Looney Lovegood from down the street, and there was only so much of nargles Ginny could take.
Percy, Fred, George, and Ron would probably pretend to be too cool for her now that they were in school and she was just their silly firstie sister. No, she knew it, Percy had rushed off to sit with his fellow prefect, Fred and George with their own friends, and Ron had thrown her out of his compartment.
They probably were too busy to even read her diary.
Ginny pulled it out, a grin growing on her face. She looked around furtively, but there was no one in her compartment. Good.
"My brothers are stupid, pig-headed, ugly, prats who will never ever have girlfriends."
And then, after a second's pause, she added, "Eat my hexes, Ron"
Oh, he'd be so mad when he read that, thinking he'd get all her secrets only to find she'd bloody outfoxed him.
Now, what else should she write?
She blinked down at the page in confusion. Her message, it wasn't there anymore. There wasn't a trace of ink left, just a pristine, white, page. The same page she'd seen when she'd first bought it.
Slowly, Ginny deliberately wrote her message again. This time she stared down and watched as the ink faded, blot by blot, until it disappeared entirely into the page of the notebook.
"That's odd," Ginny said to herself.
You know, now that she thought about it, it was a little strange how a used notebook had no messages written in it. Ginny had assumed that Tom M. Riddle had torn out the pages or else charmed it clean before he sold it off.
Except, while the cover was worn looking, each of the pages was stark white. There were no yellowed edges, no curled corners, nothing that gave away how old it should be. She'd supposed that had been charms too, some sort of preservation charm…
And maybe the disappearing words were some charm too, a minor enchantment designed to keep your secrets for you. Yeah, that must be it, and then when Ginny wrote again or wrote a pass phrase it'd come back.
"It's to keep out snoops!" Ginny cried out, oh this was much better than some dumb pink diary she could have gotten. This was exactly the diary she was looking for!
She set her pen down, determined to actually write about her day. She'd write about the Hogwarts Express, her empty compartment, the future sorting and overwhelming fear she'd be put in Slytherin. Even if Ellie Potter was in Slytherin, and that meant it couldn't be so bad no matter what Ron said.
And if Ginny was in Slytherin, maybe that was a way to get closer to her than Ron ever could…
"Huh?" Ginny blinked down, the diary wasn't empty anymore, but instead a single sentence was written in cursive far more elegant than her own.
"It's not very nice to call your brothers prats."
That definitely wasn't there before. It wasn't disappearing either. It stayed there like she'd just written it herself. Maybe the diary was a little more enchanted than she thought, enough to have a personality inscribed in it.
Biting her lip Ginny wrote, "Have you ever met my brothers?"
Her words disappeared quickly then, almost immediately after, she saw a sentence written from right to left as if someone were standing over her shoulder etching out the words.
"Being a book, I can't say I meet people these days."
She could almost hear its voice, the way it drawled, like Percy always wanted to but never could quite manage.
"Then shut it."
A slight pause, then, "You have spirit, don't you?"
"I have a lot more than just that."
"Yes, I imagine you do. What's your name?"
"Ginny Weasley. Do you have a name?"
"Of course I do," the diary responded easily, "You read it on the front cover."
Tom M. Riddle.
Ginny almost forgot about all of it. The train, her brothers, Hogwarts, the sorting, and the mysterious Ellie Potter looming in the distance. She even almost forgot to change into her new uniform, cursing and throwing everything on only when the whistle blew for their entrance into Hogsmeade's station.
Ginny spent her ride on the Hogwarts Express alone scribbling in a diary.
He hadn't always been a book, or at least, that's what he said. Exactly fifty years ago in 1942 he'd been a sixteen-year-old boy attending Hogwarts. Not just any boy either, he'd been Slytherin prefect, and had not too humbly assumed that he'd probably have been Head Boy if he'd made it to 1945.
"Come off it, prefect?" Ginny scoffed, "If you were good enough to be prefect then how'd you get yourself trapped in a bloody book?"
Not that Ginny thought being prefect was all that special. Sure, she might have, but that was before Percy became prefect. If smarmy Percy could become a prefect then just about anybody could.
Though she had to say, even if this Tom book was off his rocker, she thought he'd make a better prefect than Percy. He actually paid attention to her, she hadn't a had a conversation this good in ages, and he could take a joke.
Percy's trouble was that he could never take a joke and took himself much too seriously. Tom could not only brush it off, but he could give back as good as he got. Ginny liked that.
"Trapped is such an ugly word," the book, Tom, replied, "You're assuming I didn't plan this."
"What, like you wanted to be a book for fifty years?"
"Tom Marvolo Riddle is not the book, Ginny," he said, "He still exists somewhere out there in the real world. This diary is only an impression of him, a collection of his will and memories from a single instant in time."
"What do you mean?" Ginny frowned, she hadn't really meant anything by her own question. Well, she had, just that she knew she'd be royally pissed if she'd managed to get herself stuck in a book.
Except, she didn't get what he was saying.
"You know portraits?" he asked.
"Oh," she said to herself in realization. Why hadn't she thought of that? Dad always said that a lot of muggle borns first thought that portraits actually contained their subjects in them. What they really were was just what the artist thought that person was like. Usually, they got this from memories of people who paid for the painting, knew them, or sometimes the memories of the subject themselves.
So portraits talked like the person, sometimes they even recalled events of that person's life, but they weren't really that person. They were just a really good imitation.
"This diary is like that, only a good deal more sophisticated."
A good deal more sophisticated, what an ego. Still, Ginny liked that, she felt like he could live up to it, was just waiting for her to press him on it so he could rub it back in her face. Ginny liked him and she was pretty sure he already knew it.
Tom Marvolo Riddle, in early summer of 1943, decided to leave an impression of himself in a notebook as a living diary. A time capsule he'd called it at first, to remind the older version of himself just what he'd been like at that age.
The other, real, Tom Riddle had probably finished Hogwarts (the diary version assuring her that he'd likely been first in his class, breaking OWL and NEWT records all over the place, and been head boy to boot) and gone on to have some career where Ginny never heard of him. If he was still around, he'd be sixty-six years old.
So, naturally, he wanted to know anything and everything that had happened since then.
Ginny knew there'd been some muggle war or another with Germany, that it'd been going on around the same time of the first wizarding war on the continent. She was pretty sure they'd ended around the same, certainly it'd all worked out for the best, as she was pretty sure muggle London wasn't a German colony.
She was pretty sure her dad would have told her about that.
Turned out though that Tom knew a lot more about all that than she did. He'd been muggle born, he confessed easily. Which a muggle born in Slytherin, he did have balls, didn't he? Even fifty years ago she was pretty sure that wasn't a thing.
Regardless, Ginny couldn't tell him much more than that, especially not about the decades immediately after. The first war had never made it to Britain, it'd been the continent that spent the next ten or twenty years rebuilding after everything. The only thing Ginny knew about was He Who Must Not Be Named.
You Know Who.
And that had only been ten years ago.
"You Know Who?"
"We're… We're not supposed to say his name," Ginny wrote awkwardly, and as she wrote it, she couldn't help but cringe. She didn't know if there was any reason for it, it wasn't like everyone didn't know his name already, but there was just this unspoken taboo against it.
Like just saying it might be enough to summon him back.
"Ginny, I hate to tell you this, but I really don't know who."
It'd be funny, if he said it in any other situation. If he was a person, a real person, she would have slapped him right then. It wasn't his fault though, he didn't know, he had no idea what he was saying.
"I'm serious, Tom, he was—it was really bad."
"Tell me about it."
So, she wrote. She wrote about the dark lord from over ten years ago, how he'd ripped the country in half inch by inch. How he'd gathered rogue werewolves, giants, any dark creature he could find and set them loose on innocent people. People were still terrified of creatures, hated and wrote laws to lock them all up, because of it.
She wrote about how he'd slaughtered his way through muggles, muggle borns, and anyone else that dared to stand in his way with his dark pureblood followers. She wrote about how he torched Diagon Alley at least a dozen times and then some and how the aurors couldn't stop it.
She wrote how everyone said that by 1981 he'd almost won the war.
"What happened in 1981?"
"A miracle," Ginny said, it was short, but that was the best word for it, the only word for it.
The girl who lived had always been there in Ginny's life. Ginny had been born a year after her, so she wasn't there for the worst of it, but she did grow up in the aftermath of what Ellie Potter had done for the country.
"There's a girl, Ellie Potter, she's twelve now, but at the time she was only a year old. She did what nobody else could, even when they'd been trying for years, even when Dumbledore had been trying and failing. She defeated You Know Who."
There was a long pause this time. Then, finally, he wrote a single word, "What?"
His handwriting wasn't nearly as controlled this time, not so perfect, it looked like his hand was shaking violently when he wrote it. Ginny couldn't blame him, some people might think that maybe the dark lord wasn't so bad if a toddler could destroy him, but the fact was that he had been and Ellie Potter was just that special.
And the wizarding world had never forgotten it.
"It's famous," Ginny said knowingly, "October 31st, 1981, he went to her house. Her parents had been in hiding, they knew he was going to come after them, but then James Potter's best friend Sirius Black betrayed them and told You Know Who where to find them."
Her pen scribbled faster, trying to get it all out as fast as possible, rushing through all those little details that made up the story.
"So, he walked in the door and he killed James first, killed him right there on the stairs. Then he walked up the stairs and he killed Lily—"
The word appeared out of nowhere, writing over her own words, so large the single word took up the entire page.
"Lily Potter," Ginny clarified slowly, "She married James Potter, I… I don't know her last name from before that."
Ginny actually didn't know much at all about Lily Potter. She knew some about James Potter, the papers and books talked about him more, being Lord Potter and all, but his muggle born wife had just kind of faded into the background.
Ginny tried to wrack her brains for what she knew, "She was muggle born, everyone says she was very bright, I think she got the best test scores in her year or something. Red hair, green eyes, they say Ellie is her spitting image."
Which, that had been something of a shock.
Ginny had just about every Ellie Potter adventure book that had ever been written and every one of those had banked on her looking like a Potter. Ginny could even picture the cover now, where a future seventeen-year-old Ellie Potter stared back with wild dark hair and even wilder green eyes as she fought off a coven of vampires with her helpful friend and love interest, the changeling Aodh, who was later revealed to be secretly related to Merlin.
Some of the other book series, the less interesting ones where she attended princess tea parties, even gave her glasses like her father.
Anyway, Ginny and the whole wizarding world had grown up expecting Ellie Potter to look exactly like James Potter. Everyone had had to do a double take when they heard about the red hair.
Though Ron, the prat, bragged that he still recognized her right away. As if it wasn't hard to do when she still had the scar, the green eyes, the curly hair, and looked exactly like her mother.
She blinked, realized that Tom hadn't said anything for a long while now.
She almost asked if he'd known Lily Potter, but that was silly, she'd have to have been born years after him and wouldn't have been in Hogwarts in 1942.
"Why did he go after them?"
"Why did he go after the Potters?"
Ginny frowned, she'd never really thought about that. Well, she had, but no one had ever answered her so she'd figured it wasn't important. She wasn't sure anyone really knew why Voldemort had gone and hunted down the Potters like that.
The Potters were a light family, they'd always opposed him, and he had to have hated that.
Except no one else had been in hiding like they had. They'd known he was coming, everyone agreed on that, because that was how Sirius Black was able to betray them to him. And it wasn't like they knew Black was a Death Eater either, and that was the reason they hid, because they'd trusted him enough that he could do that to them and Pettigrew.
They'd known he was coming, so it wasn't random, he had to have some really good reason to hunt them down more than anyone else…
She just had no idea what it had been.
Ginny was probably the premier eleven-year-old Ellie Potter expert and even she didn't know why it had happened.
The story always went that You Know Who came for them on October 31st, without reason or mercy, and Ellie Potter took care of the rest.
"I don't know, I don't know if anyone does, he just did I suppose."
The words seemed dull somehow, almost mocking and on edge, "He just did."
"Well, not just, they knew he was coming remember. So, I guess he had some reason…"
Maybe he'd known, somehow, about Ellie Potter. Maybe he'd known she was a threat before anyone else, through some dark scrying or something. So, he'd hunted them down and tried to destroy her before she could destroy him.
Only, it hadn't worked.
Because no one expected Ellie Potter.
"What happened next?"
"He killed Lily Potter upstairs, in Ellie's room even. And then he turned his wand on Ellie Potter, looking up from her crib. He cast the killing curse and then it happened. The curse rebounded and struck him, burned him to cinders, and left only a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on Ellie Potter's forehead."
Ginny lifted a finger to trace her own forehead, the lightning scar exactly where Ellie's would be, not on the center of her forehead but a little to the left above her eyebrow, hidden away by mounds of curling red hair.
"Nobody knew what to do, nobody could believe it. The Death Eaters, his followers, fell apart in a few weeks. Some ran away, some bribed their way out of a trial, and the really nasty ones went to Azkaban. Just like that it was over, like it'd all been a bad dream."
Ginny didn't know too much about that, mostly what Mum and Dad said at the table, ranting about Lucius Malfoy and how his dirty money had kept him out of the dementor pit where he belonged.
Ginny had never cared too much what happened to the Death Eaters, especially the ones that got away.
"Dumbledore picked up Ellie, and for weeks everyone argued about where she should go. All her wizard relatives were dead, James was the last Potter, which made her closest relatives the Blacks who obviously shouldn't get her. Sirius Black, her godfather, was sentenced to life in Azkaban for what happened. Alice Longbottom, who'd been her godmother, had been cursed into insanity. She didn't have anybody, and everybody wanted her."
She didn't wish she could have been there but she could imagine it. The Wizengamot filled with scared old men all screaming at each other over who should get Ellie Potter. Even the Malfoys, as soon as Lucius was pardoned, tried to put in a bid for her never minding that he was supposed to be recovering from the imperius right then.
"Dumbledore ended up placing her somewhere for safe keeping. Nobody knew where, just that it was somewhere safe until she could attend Hogwarts. And then, last year in 1991, she did."
She wished she could say more, had more to work with, but Ron was bloody useless. He was in her year, had watched Ginny cry when he went on the Hogwarts Express because he got to meet her when Ginny didn't, and then he came back with nothing.
Just that Ellie Potter was a crazy Slytherin and just as bad as the worst of them. Except that sometimes she did things like beat up Malfoy, which made her an alright Slytherin.
Ginny didn't know where Ellie had been, she didn't know what she'd been doing, and she didn't even know what had happened to her except that Quirrell had kidnapped her to Albania sometime during the holidays.
Ginny had been off in Egypt enjoying herself when Ellie Potter was bloody kidnapped!
She had a feeling though, no not just a feeling, Ginny knew that somehow Ellie was going to be here. Just like every time, Ellie would beat the odds and make it back to Hogwarts in time for the start of term, if only because Ginny was actually here this year to meet her.
And Ginny wasn't going to shy away like Ron just because the girl-who-lived was in Slytherin. She wasn't going to call Ellie barmy or evil just because of the color of her tie.
"She must be something quite special."
Ginny couldn't help her grin, "She really is! She's the most powerful witch of the age, they say she's even more powerful than Dumbledore and that she can cast any spell just by thinking it."
Ron, when pressed, had admitted as much. Ellie had a wand that she sometimes used, but half the time she seemed to forget it and three quarters of the time she didn't seem to see the point in it.
Because Ellie Potter could do more than wandless parlor tricks but could cast actual, real, powerful spells with her hands tied behind her back. In fact, she could cast spells more powerful, things that were supposed to be impossible, without a wand in hand. No one intimidated her or called her a stupid girl because she hexed them to hell and back without even breaking a sweat.
Ellie Potter was everything Ginny's books had promised and then some.
And this year Ginny was going to finally meet her.
If, of course, she was here at all.
Tom, of course, didn't get it, "Most powerful witch of the age is a very bold claim. Especially for someone only eleven-years-old."
She wanted to sigh, it wasn't his fault, he was fifty years out of date, a book, and a boy to boot, but he was just so damn clueless.
"She's twelve now, but I'm serious, everyone knows it even if they don't want to admit it."
"Because she might have defeated the dark lord?"
"First off, she did beat You Know Who—"
"Were you there?"
Ginny frowned, what was that supposed to mean? Of course Ginny wasn't there, Ginny had just been born.
"If you weren't there, if no one was there except Dumbledore in the aftermath, then how do you know it was the girl? Why not the mother who'd been in the same room?"
The funny thing was, now that Ginny thought about it, she'd never heard of anyone claiming that Lily or James Potter had blown up You Know Who. Some claimed it must have been Dumbledore, that Ellie Potter was just some weird scapegoat except that was mostly bitter purebloods talking.
Everyone pretty well accepted that Ellie Potter had done it, somehow, in some impossible way. That the curse scar, the lightning bolt on her head, was proof enough.
Funny, until Tom had pointed it out, she didn't realize how weird that must sound. Never mind all that though, that wasn't the only proof Ginny had.
"Second, I've heard stuff."
"You've heard stuff?"
"Yeah, I've heard stuff. Not much, Ron's a prat, Percy's a smarmy git, and Fred and George are useless but I've heard at least something. And the way she uses magic, it was Ellie Potter. She beat up the whole Slytherin first and second year class this one time and tried to auction off their wands."
Ginny wished she had been there, it sounded amazing.
A year late, but that wasn't too bad, Ginny still had time…
"Attention, attention please, students of Hogwarts."
Ginny dropped the diary, Tom, as she startled out of her seat and nearly fell flat on her face. A girl's voice, probably around Ginny's age, spoke calmly out of nowhere. A quick glance around and there was still nobody else in her compartment.
"As you may or may not know, I'm Ellie Potter, and this summer I was kidnapped by Quirrell."
"Ellie Potter?!" Ginny asked no one, flailing as she stood and poked her head out of the compartment. She wasn't the only one, several had stuck their heads out into the hall but Ellie Potter was nowhere in sight.
"It was about as much fun as you can expect," Ellie continued with a cool, calm, confidence that Ginny could imagine suited her entirely too well.
Ginny had never been able to picture exactly what Ellie Potter sounded or even acted like. Fred and George said she was their goddess, whatever that meant, and Ron was always vague so Ginny had tried and failed to come up with it on her own.
Would she sound like Ginny or would there be something more assured and commanding to her? What did someone that powerful sound like anyway?
Ellie didn't leave Ginny any time to think as she continued with her matter of fact announcement about her return from being kidnapped. And oh, hadn't Ginny called it? Long before anyone else, that no matter what happened Ellie Potter would be back.
Quirrell was no match for Ellie Potter if even You Know Who had been ashes in seconds.
"And after a series of wild and horrific adventures in Albania with Comrade Lepur Rabbitson, we have returned to this fine establishment sans Quirrell. If you have any questions, I won't answer them."
And then complete and utter silence.
Ginny walked back to her seat in a daze, slumped over, and felt as if she was floating away in a kind of dream.
It was really happening, Ginny was going to see her, Ginny was going to meet her and if a miracle happened then maybe Ginny could even be—
"I have to get into Slytherin," Ginny realized, it was the only, well the easiest way.
Ron would kill her, but he'd get over himself eventually.
Except, how was she supposed to do that without knowing how to get sorted? Fred and George swore you had to battle a troll, but they were probably lying their asses off for shits and giggles. Still, it wasn't like anyone else had told her anything either.
It was this big, useless, secret that the entire world was in on.
And now Ginny had no one to ask but—
"Tom!" Ginny realized, and threw herself down on the floor, picking up the diary.
Written on the page was a single, solitary, sentence, "Ginny, are you still there?"
"Sorry," Ginny wrote hurridly, "Ellie Potter just made some kind of announcement, it was mental."
"Right, but Tom, you went to Hogwarts. How do we actually get sorted? Ellie Potter's in Slytherin and I have to get into Slytherin or else I'll never meet her and I'll be doomed forever because my entire family's been Gryffindor for generations and—"
"Your hand's going to cramp if you write that fast."
"Sorry," Ginny wrote sheepishly, but she got the feeling he was amused more than anything. Though how much you were supposed to read into handwriting was anyone's guess.
"It's alright, as for the sorting, that's traditionally kept secret you know. But, having never been one for tradition, it's a talking, mind reading, hat."
"A hat?" that sounded… Ginny wasn't saying she'd rather have trolls or anything but a hat was kind of a let down.
"It even sings a little song every year."
"So… How do I beat the hat?"
"What?" Ginny asked.
"It's a mind reading hat, Ginny, whose entire purpose is to ferret out all your darkest secrets and shove you into a stereotype accordingly."
That was a really Slytherin thing to say… Which now that Ginny thought about it was probably why Tom Riddle had ended up in Slytherin. Plus, if he'd had any brains, he probably hadn't wanted to go to Slytherin. A muggle born in Slytherin, Ginny couldn't even imagine the garbage he'd go through. So, the hat probably hadn't given him much of a choice.
Which meant Ginny was perfectly doomed.
Never the less, the rest of the train ride was spent planning how to outwit the sorting hat and put Ginny as close to Ellie Potter as she could possibly get. From there they moved onto courses, which had been Tom's favorites and any advice he had, and Hogwarts in general.
Ginny didn't notice that Ellie herself never really came up again.
Author's Note: For rhombusgirl, who requested the behind the scenes story of Ginny, Trotsky, and Tequila we never got to see. And because I'm trash this is going to be multiple chapters long. But who can resist the lure of Tequila.
Thanks for reading, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter