Alright, I have a couple of things that I need to explain super-quickly before you start this story.
Most importantly, Prejudice and Pride is AU. When the story starts, Dumbledore is alive and at Hogwarts, the Golden Trio are off searching for Horcruxes, and Ginny is just starting her seventh year at Hogwarts. The Battle of Hogwarts did take place, but it ended with an indefinite winner, therefore drawing out the war until September of 1998, when the story begins. Everything is exactly the same as in the books up until Dumbledore's death.
Lastly, I just want to thank you for reading this story. I really hope that you all enjoy it, and I look forward to getting your feedback.
Miss Weasley, please report to my office immediately,
P.S. The password is Gobstoppers
Ginny stared at the note that had been resting on top of her dinner plate. The Headmaster's usually flawlessly handwriting was shaky and rushed. His words were cheerless and strangely succinct.
There had to be something wrong.
Ginny picked up the note and stashed it in her pocket. Ignored the curious looks from her housemates. Trekked listlessly out of the Great Hall.
As she walked, Ginny's mind wandered to her family and friends. Almost all of them were on the run somewhere. Bill hadn't been heard from in months. What if he had turned up dead? What if Fred or George hadn't been careful enough and Voldemort had found them? What if…
Ginny stopped in front of the twin gargoyles that guarded Dumbledore's office. The redhead's nervousness dissolved into fear, her heartbeat increasing until she could scarcely breathe.
"Gobstoppers," Ginny choked out. The doorway opened, and Ginny apprehensively stepped through. Clenched her hands into fists. Closed her eyes as the spiral staircase moved beneath her.
One, two, three tense seconds passed. The staircase stopped.
Ginny rapped her shaking hand against the door that now loomed over her. The sound echoed through the silence.
"Please come in, Miss Weasley," Albus Dumbledore answered, his voice unusually soft, strangely powerless. Ginny slowly entered Dumbledore's office, doing her best to ignore the way that despair clung to the walls like cobwebs.
Dumbledore looked up from a book he had been reading. Dark circles lined dull blue eyes. Ginny fancied that she could see the faintest light of hope somewhere in the old wizard's features, but if it was there, there was too little of it to reassure her.
What could possibly affect Albus Dumbledore so strongly?
"Hello, Miss Weasley," the Headmaster said. His lips cracked into a weary smile.
"Professor?" asked Ginny. "Are you… are you okay?"
"I've been better," sighed Dumbledore, "But thank you for asking." Wrinkled hands disappeared into an elaborate glass dish and emerged with a lemon drop. "How are you?"
"Fine," answered Ginny, her eyes focused on Dumbledore fingers as he deftly unwrapped the candy.
"Good, good," Dumbledore said. His voice cracked. "And how is your family?"
"Fine. I guess Mum's doing better. Bill… scares me, though. He hasn't contacted us for a long time."
"That is quite good about your mother," said Dumbledore. He vanished the lemon drop. Grabbed another one. "And I do admit that I have been worried about Bill as well, although I do believe that we shall not have to worry for much longer."
"Professor?" Ginny asked. He was losing it. That was it. The Headmaster was finally losing it. "You aren't… I mean…"
Dumbledore laughed weakly, hauntingly. Fawkes squawked from his perch.
"I'm not crazy, Ginevra." He began unwrapping his new lemon drop. "I simply think that at times like this, it is most beneficial to focus on the positive things in life."
"Um. Is there anything positive going on right now?"
The lemon drop disappeared. Dumbledore unfolded himself from his chair. Walked to the large bookshelf behind his desk. Grabbed a black velvet box from the uppermost ledge.
With deliberate care, the Head Master returned to his seat and set the box on the desk in front of him.
"Yes, yes, of course. In fact, the thing that first comes to mind would be that…" His eyes clouded over with grief. "… even though I have just learned that Harry Potter has been killed-"
Ginny made a strange choking noise and hunched over in her chair; it felt like she had just been punched in the stomach.
Dumbledore ignored her reaction.
"-I did happen to find something that can save the world as we know it."
The Headmaster opened the black box to reveal a snitch-sized emerald necklace, surrounded by sparkling diamonds and inlaid in a white gold background.
"Harry's dead?" Ginny asked, too shocked to even look at the pendant that lie in front of her.
Dumbledore's eyes shone with tears that he would not allow himself to shed, but the hope that Ginny had seen on his face before inexplicably seemed to grow stronger. Ginny couldn't see what he was hopeful about. The war was over. Voldemort had won.
"Oh, not for long, my dear," he told her, taking the necklace out of the box while being very careful not to touch the actual gem.
"Professor, I'm sorry, but-"
"Wait for just a moment, Ginevra, and then I will have this all explained." He set the necklace in front of her. "Do you know what this is?"
Ginny shook her head, too upset to care.
Dumbledore did not look at all offended by her apathy.
"It is the Stone of Eons, Miss Weasley."
"How interesting. Now, can you please tell me what's going to happen to everyone now that Harry's gone? How in the world-"
"Do not panic," Dumbledore said, a small amount of authority creeping back into his voice. "I want you to focus your attention on the matter at hand. The Stone of Eons is an extremely powerful gemstone with the ability to transport a single person backwards through time-"
"Oh," Ginny interrupted, her eyes widening. The same hope that had been touching Dumbledore worked its way into her bloodstream, surging quickly through her heart. She sat up a little straighter. "So you're going to go back in time to kill Voldemort when he was a baby?"
"Unfortunately, no. You see, the Stone's magic can only be unleashed by someone with pure intentions. If a person were to go back with the wish to kill a baby, it would not work."
"Okay, so go back to when Harry's parents were killed and save them. That's a pure intention."
"Voldemort had already taken numerous precautions to ensure his immortality by that time. I could not kill him even if I did go back."
The corners of his lips were still turned up at her, despite all of this. There was something else, some other grand plan that Ginny didn't see.
"I see. So what are you going to do?"
"I'm not going to do anything, Ginevra. You are."
She froze at that. "I am?"
"Yes, you are. You see, a person cannot go back in time with the intention to kill, but the intention to help a person would be quite pure enough for the stone."
Ginny started to shake her head as she realized what Dumbledore was saying. As desperate as she was to save Harry, every fiber of her being recoiled at the idea of getting anywhere near Tom Riddle.
"You want me to go back in time and turn Riddle into a good person?" she asked incredulously. "There's no way… That can't even be possible-"
"It's not," Dumbledore interrupted her. "Any child conceived with the use of a love potion can know no love, and without love, a person cannot be truly good. However, they can trust. I want you to go back in time and earn his trust, Ginevra. I want you to befriend him."
No, no, no.
"But why me?" she asked desperately.
"I have a couple of reasons, not the least of which is your ability to make friends, even with Slytherins on occasion. Your personality will be greatly beneficial in gaining Riddle's friendship."
"What's the other reason?"
He took a deep breath.
"The other, most important reason, is that I trust you to complete the mission after you have gained his trust."
"And what would that mission be?" questioned Ginny nervously. Dumbledore got to his feet and headed to a vault behind his desk. Ginny watched as he muttered something to open the vault, then pulled out what she recognized as the Sword of Gryffindor.
"You want me to stab him with the sword?" Ginny asked, her brow furrowed.
Dumbledore chuckled. "No, no, no. I need you to destroy his Horcruxes with it. You know of the diary, and Tom will also have a dark stone ring on him nearly all the time. You are to get the diary and that ring away from him in any way possible and destroy them. Then-"
"Then you want me to kill him," finished Ginny, still skeptical. The Headmaster's smile vanished completely.
"Yes, I want you to kill him. I am going to charm the vast magic in the necklace to send you back to this exact moment in time when and only when Tom Riddle is dead."
"And if I don't think I can do this?" Ginny asked.
Dumbledore's face turned grim.
"If you do not complete this mission, life as we know it will end. Lord Voldemort will become the supreme ruler of the world, and all Muggles and Muggleborns will be forced to live as animals."
Ginny swallowed as the weight of what she had to do finally started pressing down on her. She wasn't going to get out of this. She would have do go back in time. To befriend the person who had destroyed her childhood.
"Say that I agree to do this," said Ginny weakly. "What happens if I can't kill him?"
"I am sorry to say that you will be left in 1944."
Ginny's cheeks drained of all color.
"Okay, I can handle that," she said weakly. "No reason that I can't kill him. Will I be able to take anything with me?"
"Only items that are on your person," Dumbledore said. "Minerva and I have prepared a shrunken trunk for you with time appropriate clothing and robes, in addition to a good amount of galleons. I also have a letter that you are to deliver to Headmaster Dippet that gives him as few details as possible while still projecting the severity of the situation. There will also be a detailed outline of your life story, as well as an order to make you Head Girl."
"Head Girl?" asked Ginny.
"The spot was open that year because the previous candidate for the position was murdered by Grindelwald. I realize that it will give you extra responsibility, but it will also give you excuses to interact with Riddle, which will be of the utmost necessity."
Ginny bit her lip. She really didn't want the spot, but she knew that Dumbledore was right. Riddle wouldn't talk to her unless he was forced to.
"Now," Dumbledore continued. "You will be a pureblood witch known as Ginevra Peverell. That is a powerful pureblood name, and it should make things easier for you during a time when not many Muggleborns attended Hogwarts. You were home schooled by your father near Norwich until your parents were killed by Grindelwald this summer. Because of their deaths, you have come to Hogwarts to complete your education."
"Pureblood. Peverell . Home schooled near Norwich. Got it," said Ginny. "Is that all?"
"It should be. Is there anyone you would like to say good-bye to, or anything that you would like to grab before you leave?"
Ginny knew that she was only going to be gone for a couple months, but she still wasn't sure if she could handle any emotional good-byes. But there had to be something that she could grab, just to remember the old world by…
She shook her head. If she left Dumbledore's office, she wasn't positive that she would have the strength to come back.
"No, there isn't," Ginny said resolutely. "I'm ready."
"Very well then," Dumbledore said. "It will only take a minute for me to adjust the magic in the necklace to send you back to September 1st, 1944."
Ginny then sat and waited while he pointed his wand at the enormous stone and started mumbling incantations.
"It's ready, Ginevra," the Headmaster said finally. "I have no great words of wisdom for you, no secrets that will make this any easier, but you know what you are doing. I trust you to succeed."
Wow. No pressure there at all.
"Thank you, Professor. It means a lot to me," said Ginny, her voice choked as what she had agreed to really sunk in. She was going back in time. She was befriending Riddle. She was going to kill him. Oh, Merlin. She couldn't do it. She couldn't, she couldn't, she-
"Here is your trunk, the sword, and the letter," Dumbledore told her, interrupting her train of thought. Ginny took a shaky breath and grabbed a trunk that was about the size of her hand, a thick envelope, and the sword of Gryffindor. With shaking hands she tucked the trunk into the pocket of her robes, pushed the sword up her sleeve, and stuck the letter into her waistband.
I'm really doing this. I don't want to do this.
"As soon as this necklace is around your neck, there is no going back. Are you sure about this?"
Harry is dead. Charlie is dead. Dad is dead. Mum is crazy. The war is almost lost. Don't be selfish. Do what Harry would do.
"Yes, I'm sure," she said.
Dumbledore gently put the necklace over her neck and let it fall to her chest with a small thud.
Nothing happened. Maybe the intention of befriending Tom Riddle was cancelled out by her intention to kill him. That would make sense.
"Do you remember how you felt about Riddle during your first year, Miss Weasley?" Dumbledore asked, his voice still calm and steady. Ginny nodded. "Focus on how you saw him then. Focus on wanting to see him like that in real life."
Ginny closed her eyes and tried to remember the Tom who had been her first ever friend, tried to remember his kindness, and his intelligence… the way that he seemed to genuinely care for her. She thought about how much she had cared for him, and how much she would have liked to see him, how much he needed her as a friend.
Then everything froze for a moment before the necklace yanked her forward and threw her through time.