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Secretly Ginny by hedwidgeon

Format: Novella
Chapters: 19
Word Count: 47,050
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Mystery, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Shacklebolt, Tonks, Arthur, Molly, Voldemort, Ginny, OtherCanon
Pairings: Bill/Fleur, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 07/20/2006
Last Chapter: 07/03/2007
Last Updated: 08/10/2011

Summary:
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Ginny and Harry are very much in love. But Ginny realises how much danger she's creating and fakes her own death. With the help of a friend, she returns to the Order. Can she keep her secret? Can her relationships with her friends stay the same? And all the while, the Order is getting closer to defeating Voldemort, with only an old poem to help them...
DH disregarded | A huge thank you to Apanthropist for the beautiful banner!


Chapter 1: Deciding
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Disclaimer Credit goes to JKR, like always. She owns the characters and settings and all. The plotline is inspired by Ismene06's challenge on the hpff forums. All chapter images are by me; the amazing banner is by Apanthropist of tda.

Also, just a quick note for the purposes of this fic - at Dumbledore's funeral, Harry did not break up with Ginny and Ron and Hermione are not together yet.

Secretly Ginny

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Chapter 1: Deciding


The party in the Common Room was going, full power. There were tables of food set up, surrounding the yelling, screaming, and laughing people. Fireworks exploded over their heads and several chants were sweeping through the room. The seven kids in scarlet and gold Quidditch robes were the center of attention, even though every now and then someone would glance at the portrait hole. One girl in particular constantly glanced away from the party, toward the entrance to the room. She seemed to be waiting for someone. One boy was waving the Quidditch Cup and everyone started singing.

The girl broke away from the group, wondering why he wasn’t here yet. He should have been back by now. She opened the portrait hole, looked through, sighed, and closed it again. The hall was empty. She leaned against it from the back, looking slightly impatient.

A shout came from the midst of the celebrating crowd. “Ginny!”

She looked up.

“Ginny! Come on and celebrate!” yelled her brother. He broke away from the group and pulled her back with him.

“Ron...” she started to say, but he interrupted.

“Why are you so impatient? Harry will be back soon! It’s not like Snape would do anything to him...” Ron muttered, leading Ginny over to the drinks table.

“I wouldn’t put it past him. This is Snape you’re talking about. You know he hates Harry,” said Ginny with a slight smile at talking about Harry.

Ron saw this, and gave her a weird look that she didn’t catch. “He’ll be back soon enough,” he said, and led her back into the celebration.

A few minutes later, Ginny was once again having fun. She and the rest of the team except for Harry danced with the rest of the house to some music that Seamus Finnigan was projecting from a CD player that Hermione Granger had charmed.

After a while, she once again felt Harry’s absence and the party immediately seemed less fun. He should have been back ages ago. Ginny finished off her butterbeer and started to toss the empty bottle into a trash can when she heard the portrait hole opening. As the bottle left her fingers she looked up hopefully.

It was Harry. A roar of celebration swept up from the people in the Common Room, and several of them reached to pull him into the room. Ginny heard Ron yelling that they had won the Cup, and Harry grinned. He looked around the room carefully, and suddenly Ginny found herself running towards him. She threw her arms around him, not thinking about what she was doing.

And he kissed her.

***


Harry and Ginny had been together for only a few weeks when Harry and Dumbledore left to destroy one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. It was a disaster, and Ginny felt just as horrible as Harry. Dumbledore’s funeral passed without anything significant. Harry decided to go back to the Dursleys’ one last time, and then come to the Burrow for Bill and Fleur’s wedding. He also decided to go back to Hogwarts for his last year.

***


Ginny was sitting in her room, applying makeup to her face. The wedding would begin in twenty minutes. She was wearing a pale gold dress, just as Fleur had planned. Her hair was pulled back and part of it was fastened up with a flowery clip of the same gold as her dress. She’d cast a curling charm on it, which made it flow down her back in gentle, pretty waves. When she’d finished applying her lip gloss, she left her room for the kitchen. She stopped just outside.

“Hello, Ginny,” said Fred, who was in the kitchen. “How are you?”

“Good...” she said suspiciously, seeing the mischievous look on the twins’ faces. They were leaning casually against the counter, wearing identical suits of expensive looking pale blue material. They looked as if they had planned her coming at this time. “What are you two up to?”

“Oh, nothing...” said George, an innocent look on his face.

“I know you’re up to something, I can tell,” snapped Ginny, not moving.

“You’re no fun,” said George, and stepped forward. He grabbed her arm and pulled her to the window, lifting her over the threshold into the room. “Do you want to know a secret?”

Ginny was suspicious. She smoothed her dress, asking herself why George had picked her up and carried her into the room. She could walk, after all! “Whose secret?” she asked.

“Our dear brother Ron’s.”

Ginny raised an eyebrow and smiled slightly. “Now I’m listening,” she said with interest.

“Right. So, Ron’s outside, setting up. Hermione’s still in her room, getting ready.”

“Where are you going with this?” asked Ginny.

“Wait for it...” George said, his grin widening.

“We know Ron likes Hermione. It would be a shame not to let her know. So when Hermione finishes getting ready, she’ll proceed down the stairs like a princess –“

“Wait!” said Ginny. “Hermione’s not one to proceed down the stairs like a princess. That’s actually me. I’m the one who proceeds down the stairs like a princess. Didn’t you see?”

“Yes, we did see. But you’re going to make sure Hermione does proceed down the stairs like a princess. Then you will lead her through the kitchen, where Ron and the others will be waiting. Be careful to step over the threshold.”

“Umm... don’t we always step over the threshold when we enter a room?” Ginny asked.

“Of course we do. But this time, you must be careful. We’ve put an invisible wire there. Hermione will trip on it and - crash - she’ll fall down. Ron will immediately go and see if she’s ok and all, and then reveal his love for her. Simple, but brilliant. Wouldn’t you say?”

“First of all, you might really hurt Hermione and her dress may get ruined. Second of all, Ron doesn’t go revealing his love for girls in public,” said Ginny.

“Ah, but we’ve charmed the floor to be soft where she’ll fall... see?” George said, pushing Ginny.

“Argh!” she cried, falling down to the hard kitchen floor where Hermione would fall. Surprisingly, it was soft and didn’t hurt her at all. “I see,” she replied, getting up from the floor and smoothing her dress once more. It had stayed in perfect shape.

“And you also mentioned that Ron does not go revealing his love for girls in public. Well, he does now, thanks to a little clever charmwork by our very own... Charlie Weasley!” Fred said, bowing comically as Charlie entered the room.

Ginny laughed and muttered, “Oh you are just...” She never got around to saying more though.

“So will you convince Hermione to proceed down the stairs like a princess?” asked Charlie.

“Yes, I will,” replied Ginny, and turned towards the door. “I’ll go and get her right now.”

“All right, we’ll gather everyone in here then...” said Fred.

As Ginny walked up the stairs, she could hear the twins and Charlie gathering everyone into the kitchen.

Ginny slipped into Hermione’s room and was surprised to find someone else there as well.

“Fleur!”

“Geenny!”

“What are you doing here?” asked Ginny politely.

“I am talking weeth Hermione about the weddeeng. What are you doeeng?” Fleur said, brushing her long hair.

“I need to bring you two down now,” replied Ginny.

“Right,” said Hermione. She gave her hair a last pat and took a quick glance in the mirror. “C’mon Fleur, let’s go! It’s time for you to be married!”

Fleur got up and laid the brush down. She smoothed her dress and hair, made sure she looked absolutely perfect, and followed Ginny and Hermione out of the room.

“Now, you two, follow me and we will proceed down the stairs like princesses,” said Ginny, her head raised high and shoulders back. The other two followed her lead, and Ginny smirked. She proceeded majestically down the stairs, the other two right behind.

As Ginny stepped to the bottom of the stairs, she caught Harry’s eye and smiled at him. He smiled back uncertainly, and a bit – could it be? – suspiciously. Then she stepped aside, and let Hermione pass through. Ron’s mouth dropped. Fred, George, Charlie, and Ginny smirked. Fleur followed Hermione, her dress sweeping the floor.

Hermione glance at Ron. Ginny barely managed to keep from laughing. Hermione approached the doorway. She blushed, glancing at Ron again. Two more steps and she’ll trip! thought Ginny excitedly.

Hermione walked forward one step, two steps... Her small yelp as she fell made Ginny giggle out loud. Luckily a storm of voices hid this as everyone converged around Hermione, who was struggling to get up from the floor.

Ron rushed forward with a dazed expression on his face, and threw his arms around Hermione. “Hermione! My darling! Are you all right?” his voice was full of concern and love. Ginny burst out laughing and ducked into the hall and under the stairs. There no one could hear her.

Moments later she was joined by Fred, George, Charlie, and to her surprise, Harry. “Great joke!” he said, grinning. “I’ve been trying to get them together for ages...” Ginny smiled, half annoyed and half glad that they’d been caught. She looked at Harry lovingly. He was still grinning, but his eyes were suddenly unfocused and blank. His face was paler than usual, troubled, and a feeling of worry radiated from him. She realized what was bothering him so suddenly – Voldemort. His scar was glowing on his forehead, and even as she looked, he reached up, flinching. Then he noticed her looking and drew his hand away. Those few moments stretched into a lifetime in Ginny’s mind, and as she comprehended them, she went cold. But she pretended not to be bothered.

A few minutes later they decided to rejoin the wedding, and entered the room again. Ron was now straightening up, pulling Hermione to her feet, still looking a bit dazed. He gave her a kiss on the cheek. Ginny heard Charlie whisper something beside her, and the dazed expression left Ron’s face. He looked around at everyone, astonished by what he had done. Then he turned beet red. Hermione giggled, turned his face towards hers, and kissed him.

***


In her room that night, Ginny sat restlessly by the window. She stared outside into the dark gloom, tears falling from her eyes. In her mind she was arguing with herself.

You have to!

No!

Yes! It’s dangerous! You’re putting yourself, your family, and Harry into even more danger!

I don’t care! I love him, and he loves me! I can’t just fake my death to ensure just a little more security!

You’ll still be there with him! A new identity, and then keep working with the Order! No harm done!

He won’t love me anymore!

What does that matter? I only want him to be safe!


For a half hour she argued with herself. She finally got tired of arguing and got up. Her hair hung wavy and salty wet down her back. She paced back and forth, blocking all thought from her mind. For fifteen minutes straight she paced, until finally she was worn out from crying and blocking out her thoughts. She collapsed onto her bed, her mind suddenly made up. She would fake her own death by pretending to drown in the lake. Then she’d live as a Muggle for a while and get a makeover. Then, unrecognizable, she would join the Order and help fight Voldemort. Maybe, just maybe, Harry would fall in love with her again...

So with this plan in her mind, she fell asleep. She dreamed of dark lakes with monsters in them, cold and miserable.

***


For the rest of the summer she was worried. What if it was already too late? When and where would she ‘drown’? How would Harry react? Would she get to see her own funeral? What were the specific details of her plan?

For the next few weeks, she spent as much quality time with everyone as she could. It was all too likely that she’d never she them again, at least not as Ginny Weasley. When she would return, she’d just be someone else. She wouldn’t be part of the family, or Harry’s girlfriend, or Hermione’s best friend, or anyone’s sister or daughter. She’d just be someone else. She tried as hard as she could to enjoy every moment, knowing that her life would change soon and no one would treat her the same again.

***


September 1st came all too quickly. The goodbyes from her mother were tearful. She couldn’t help it, she cried as well. In her mind this was the last time Ginny Weasley was ever going to see her parents, Bill and Fleur, Charlie, and the twins. They all looked a bit surprised at her overreaction to the farewell, but no one mentioned anything.

Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny got onto the train. They chose an empty compartment and waved out of the window. Ginny’s tears had ceased, and now she was just waving, her mind a blank veil of sadness. The train began to move. She leaned out the window. It sped up, but she kept her family in view until the train turned the corner. Then she settled in her seat and looked at the empty seat across from her. She bit her lip, knowing that, as Ginny Weasley, she would never see her family again.


Chapter 2: Secrets
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. Sorry that this chapter is kind of short, but the next one will be longer.

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Chapter 2: Secrets


The entire ride to Hogwarts she sat with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They asked if she wanted to join her friends, but she didn’t want to. All she could do was slump back in her seat, trying not to cry. Now that her decision was final, it weighed down on her thoughts and brought her spirits down incredibly. She thought some more about the specifics of her plan. She knew that she would wait until she’d learned to Apparate before ‘drowning’. That way, she wouldn’t have to worry about transportation. But where was she going to live? For how long? These questions held her thoughts for almost two hours, before Hermione finally decided to pull Ginny away from the others to talk to her.

“Ginny.”

“Hmm...?” she said quietly, raising her head to look at Hermione.

“We need to talk.” With that, Hermione grabbed Ginny’s arm and pulled her from the compartment. “We’ll be right back,” she added to the boys.

Once they were outside and a little away from the compartment door, Hermione turned to look critically at Ginny. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked plainly.

“Nothing,” answered Ginny, her face betraying no sign of her emotions.

“Yes, there is. Ever since Bill and Fleur’s wedding you’ve been acting oddly. That night I thought I heard you crying. You spent so much time with everyone, you cried like mad saying goodbye just now, and these past hours, you stayed with us and not your friends, and you didn’t even take part in our conversations. There is definitely something wrong with you.”

“Well, there’s a simple reason for that. Him. I mean, what if he comes and just kills everyone at the Burrow? What if he gets you three? What if he gets the twins, Mum, Dad, Bill, or Charlie? And you didn’t hear me crying, that must have been your imagination,” Ginny lied swiftly. “I’ve also been a bit worried about my sixth year. Ron was complaining about it being really hard.” She didn’t know why she was keeping her plan secret from Hermione, when she’d never kept a secret from her before. Somehow she just couldn’t let anyone know.

Hermione looked at her, long and hard. It was plain that she didn’t believe Ginny’s words. But Ginny looked right back, and still, no evidence of anything to the contrary showed on her face. After almost five minutes, Hermione sighed. “All right. So there’s nothing wrong with you. But please, be your normal self again and stop worrying so much. It’ll be okay. Voldemort won’t get anyone important to us, they’re all too clever,” she said with a smile. “Let’s go back. The others will be wondering where we are. Oh, and sixth year really isn’t all that hard.”

Ginny smiled back. They started making their way back to the compartment. “Wait a moment,” Ginny said, “I have to go to the bathroom.” She slipped in and closed the door.

“Do you want me to wait for you?” Hermione asked.

“No, you go on back, I’ll be there in a moment,” came Ginny’s muffled voice through the door.

“Okay,” said Hermione, and turned to leave. She took a few steps, stopped, and looked around. No matter what Ginny said, she wouldn’t convince Hermione. She gave the door a piercing look, then turned around and returned to the compartment.

***


Ginny heard Hermione’s footsteps retreating, and sighed with relief. It was good to be away from those curious stares. Suddenly she realized that her friend's footsteps had stopped. Ginny froze. So Hermione was still suspicious. Then the footsteps resumed and faded slowly.

***


Ginny walked into the compartment and smiled cheerfully at the trio. Hermione looked at her suspiciously, then returned to her previous task of organizing her book bag with Ron peering over her shoulder, amazed that such a boring task could fascinate his girlfriend.

Harry was looking out of the window into the stormy weather, which reflected Ginny’s mood. But she hid it as she sat down beside him, a cheerful smile lighting up her face. She put her hand on Harry’s shoulder. He looked up. There was a worried frown on his face, and he looked at her uncertainly. “Harry, what’s wrong?” she asked. She knew what it was, but she had to play stupid now. Anything to get Hermione off her back.

The rummaging in Hermione’s bag stopped, and Ginny knew Hermione was watching her closely. Ginny didn’t turn around.

“Nothing,” sighed Harry.

Ginny couldn’t help but chuckle quietly. It was practically the same conversation that she’d just had with Hermione, only for a completely different reason.

Harry gave her an odd look, then said quietly, “All right. Something’s been bothering me.”

“What?” asked Ginny, a concerned expression clouding her face. This acting was killing her. And to think, she’d have to do this for the rest of her life!

“It’s him. It’s Voldemort. He’s growing stronger, more powerful. I’m just... worried for all of you.”

I knew it, thought Ginny. What else could have been bothering him? Besides, it was what she was worried about herself. Again she was surprised at how alike this conversation was to the one she’d just had with Hermione.

“Don’t worry, Harry,” said Ginny, again reminding herself incredibly of Hermione. “He won’t get any of us, we’re too clever for him.” Then she turned and smiled at Hermione, thanking her friend silently for the opportunity.

***


The train ride went on without much more abnormal happenings. Their conversations grew steadily more cheerful and laughter made their compartment warm and happy. Soon the lamps turned on, and a warm glow filled the place. At the moment, it was hard for any of them to worry about Voldemort when they were in such a happy atmosphere.

The only one worried about anything was Ginny. She was finding it increasingly hard to keep pretending and to keep her secret. Several times it was on the tip of her tongue, and once she even started to say it, but caught herself just in time. This started to worry her. This is so difficult! I can’t keep this a secret much longer, and I haven’t even ‘drowned’ yet! she thought frantically, a mess inside. Outside she was perfectly controlled, calm, and happy. She’d never been more grateful for her acting skills.

Finally she couldn’t take it anymore. “Hermione, can I have a word?” she asked suddenly.

Hermione’s head snapped up, and she followed Ginny curiously out of the compartment.

Ginny had figured, if she was going to tell anyone, it would be Hermione. She opened her mouth to speak. “Hermione –“

Suddenly the train slowed down and rolled to a stop. Ginny and Hermione looked at each other in surprise. Were they already at Hogsmeade Station?

Apparently they were, because all around them people were emerging from their compartments, carrying their trunks. “Time flies, eh?” Ginny said, hurrying back into their compartment to grab her stuff.

She was separated from the other three in the crowd of students, and as she hurried along, she felt slightly relieved. Somehow, she was glad that it was still her secret. But as she walked, she felt the weight of it in her mind. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. Keeping secrets could get quite tricky, she thought.




Chapter 3: Drowning
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine.

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Chapter 3: Drowning


The year passed all too quickly for Ginny’s liking. So much had to be done, and every few weeks Harry would mysteriously disappear. The constant threat of Voldemort surrounded the castle, and the students within were subdued and scared. Even the Slytherins were not their normal selves. Ginny started to pay more attention in class and tried everything she possibly could to be as successful as possible. She spent hours in the library doing her work thoroughly, and went to the Room of Requirement almost every day to practice her work. She even researched spells, charms, jinxes, and enchantments far beyond her own levels of learning. When the time came to start Apparition, she was the first one to manage to Apparate.

There were two reasons for her behavior. One, which she told everyone when they asked why she was suddenly so Hermione-ish, was that she wanted to be able to fight Voldemort and win. But the other, the main reason, was that she had to be able to do all this to survive on her own after she ‘drowned.’

With every passing day, she grew more nervous. She knew exactly what day and what time she would go to the lake, and she dreaded it. It would be June 1st, because that was the day of Apparition tests(which she wasn’t old enough to do), in the middle of the OWLs for fifth years, in the middle of NEWTs for seventh years, and in the middle of exams for the rest of the school as well. She knew that almost everyone would be busy in some way.

She would go at ten in the evening. She’d tell her friends that she would go down to the lake alone to get some fresh air and that she was tired of studying. Then, out of sight from the windows of the castle, she would rip her black robes, and snag them on a bush. This would give the appearance that she’d been pulled into the water by the giant squid. She would also use a newly learned spell to make an impression on the ground which looked like the tentacle of the squid. She had practiced this for almost a month already in the Room of Requirement. Next came the most dangerous part. She’d taught herself a charm to separate the life out of her body. She’d just be a mere spirit while her body floated along in the lake, her robes ripped and torn and a sucker mark on her arm(thanks to another little charm). When her body was found, it would be buried, and there would be a funeral. At this point, she’d have to return to her body and position herself exactly as it looked. She could only hope that her wand would make it, because she would need it to become reunited with her body.

She had practiced all the necessary charms countless times, but still she was scared. What if something went wrong? What if her wand got lost in the lake? The thought was enough to make her turn cold.

So she tried to keep her mind off her plan as much as possible. She concentrated on school, practicing her charms, and her friends. Her grades improved, and soon she was top in the year. People looked up to her and asked her for help. She felt wonderful about it, but horrible at the same time, because, just when she had made everyone like her(not even the purpose of her new talent!), she would ‘drown.’ How could she disappoint them more? But she kept her mind off of this.

All she tried to think about was school, her friends, and most of all, Harry. She went on many dates with him, and even taught him some of her charms and jinxes. They stayed a happy couple throughout the entire year. The twins sent her products for free, and even through the threat of Voldemort, there were fun times and enjoyable moments. But no matter how much fun she had, the looming fear of June 1st was ever increasing.

***


Her last date with Harry was a dinner date on May 31st. Somehow he had felt the need to make it a long, formal one. Both of them dressed nicely and met in the Room of Requirement at 7:30. It was a marvelous night, with music, dancing, and a romantic candlelit dinner. Ginny’s eyes stung the entire time, but Harry took it as crying with happiness. She didn’t correct him, because she was crying partially because she was happy. It was her last night with him, and she loved it. That last night, that last kiss, remained forever in her memory, and whenever she thought about him, she remembered it.

***


Ginny woke up to sunlight streaming in through the curtains. She got up and threw them back, looking out into the beautiful morning. The sunlight glistened on the lake and there was barely a cloud in the blue sky. She bit her lip, knowing that today was the day. She pulled the curtain back over the window so that she wouldn’t wake up the rest of her roommates. Then she showered for almost twenty minutes, knowing that it may be the last shower she would take for months. She felt dirty at the very thought. Then she dressed in comfortable clothes and dried her hair with her wand. She slipped all her money into her pocket, and zipped it. Then she cast a charm to keep it closed no matter what. This she would do with her wand as well. That way, she wouldn’t be able to loose either. Then, she looked around the room fondly and turned towards the door. She didn’t have to come back in here, so she said her goodbyes to the room now. It had been her bedroom for six years, and she knew that she’d miss it.

***


Ginny walked down to the Great Hall in a trance. She was trying hard not to think of anything besides how much she loved Hogwarts.

At the bottom of the marble staircase, she snapped out of her thoughts because of a voice calling her name. “Ginny!”

She turned and saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione running to catch up with her. “Hey guys,” Ginny said quietly.

“What’s wrong? You look a bit... sad,” Harry said.

“Just thinking. I only now realized that you guys are leaving Hogwarts soon!” she answered quickly.

“Yeah, I’m going to miss it here,” replied Ron, looking around fondly.

“Me too,” agreed Hermione.

“And you’re going to be here all alone next year, Ginny,” Harry added.

“Not all alone. I have other friends...” she said absently. “Let’s go get something to eat.”

They ate breakfast together in the Great Hall. Out of all of them, Ginny ate the most. They decided to have a relaxing day by the lake, and not study too much. Hermione brought a few books anyway. She began quizzing Ron while they leaned against opposite sides of a tree. Harry and Ginny sat together, their bare feet in the shallow water.

After a half hour, Ron pulled the book out of Hermione’s hands and put it on the ground. Then he grabbed her and pulled her into his lap. Ginny leaned into Harry’s shoulder, and he slipped his arm around her. They weren’t the only students on the grounds, and soon the murmuring of many studying voices filled the air around them, lulling Ginny into an empty, blank, dreamless sleep.

***


When she woke up, she was laying next to Harry on the grounds, gentle waves tickling her feet. She shivered, and Harry stirred beside her. His eyes opened slowly and he smiled at her. He kissed her cheek and asked what time it was. Ginny looked at her watch. “Almost six o’clock,” she replied, her stomach jolting. Four more hours. “We should be getting inside.”

Harry got up and pulled her to her feet. She straightened up and looked at the old tree for Ron and Hermione. They were leaning against it, talking quietly. “Ron, Hermione, we should go inside now,” Ginny said, walking over to them. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

“Right, c’mon then,” Ron replied, getting to his feet and offering Hermione his hand.

They walked back to the castle and into the Great Hall. Ginny’s mouth watered at the smells wafting through the huge room. She realized how hungry she really was, considering she’d missed lunch.

After dinner, Professor McGonagall said a few words about getting enough sleep and concentrating on exams and studies. Then she released them all to go to bed.

Ginny realized that her excuse to go to the lake was no longer valid. After all, they had had a full day’s break from studying and they’d spent it all by the lake. So at ten till ten she scribbled a note to Hermione by the light of a candle saying that she was by the lake because she couldn’t sleep. Nervously she set it on Hermione’s usual homework table.

She looked out of the window at the still, silent lake. Moonlight streamed into the room, making the candle almost unnecessary. Almost. She bit her lip to keep from crying, and slipped out of the portrait hole. She held the candle in front of her, her wand and money tucked into the pockets of her bathrobe. She navigated the halls by the candlelight. Once she was on the second floor she found a window to climb out of.

The instant she touched the soft grass, a tear slipped from her eye. She bit her lip again. This is not the time for crying! She thought determinedly, almost angrily. Then she hurried out across the grass towards the tree they’d been near that day. It was out of sight to the castle, and the perfect place to pull off a drowning. Once she got there, she set her candle on the ground and tore a piece of her bathrobe. She snagged it on a nearby bush. Then she whispered a soft incantation and a tentacle mark appeared on the ground. She whispered a similar incantation and a sucker mark appeared on her arm. The butterflies in her stomach reached a high point. Only one thing left now, she thought. Tears brimmed in her eyes. This was it. “Goodbye, Ginny Weasley,” she whispered, looking up at the castle once more. Then she turned back to the lake.

A gust of wind blew out her candle and whipped her hair back from her face. The cold sting of the night air on her face made the situation seem all too real to her. Quickly she tossed the candle onto the ground and stepped up to the lake. Cold water lapped up to her feet, gently washing away the sand and dirt sticking to them. She took a few tentative steps into the water, watching it play around her ankles. She shivered, and suddenly she wished more than anything that she could be in her own bed, warm and safe. She wondered if she was doing the right thing for a moment, but then she shivered again and came out of her reverie. She took a deep breath and walked forward. Her clothes floated up around her, soaking in water, making it difficult to move. But she pushed forward. The lake, once smooth, black, and threatening, was now rippling. Moonlight shivered across it, and splashes of water carried droplets into the light as Ginny made her way towards the center. A rainbow of water splashed up and hit her face. She felt it running down her face and neck, mingling in with her tears. But she pushed on, until the water was too deep to stand in and the cold, dark lake surrounded her.

She swam out into it, her robes and nightgown pulling her down. One of her hands was firmly clutching her wand, the other helping her to stay afloat. Then she slipped the wand into her pocket but kept her hand on it. She zipped the pocket so that the wand was stuck. The she took a deep breath and whispered the last incantation. A familiar sensation filled her body. She’d felt it before, since she’d practiced this spell many times. It was as if she was being ripped in half, but it didn’t hurt. She only felt like she was separating from her body. And then, she was completely separate.

Ginny rose up into the night. She was less than a ghost. She was nothing. She was only visible to herself, and there was no way she could make anyone realize that she existed. She could swoop through anything without the slightest problem, and all she could feel if she touched it was her wand. So she hovered above her body, waiting. Waiting for morning to come.

She crossed her arms and glanced at her watch. How was she going to survive this night?! 10:37pm said her watch. She floated lower. Just as she was about to fall asleep, she realized that some king of disturbance was causing ripples to float away from her. She looked down, surprised. Her body was floating in the water, ‘dead’ and pale, and ripples were gently racing away from it. Ginny frowned and placed herself back into it. Then she cast the anti-jinx to find out what was wrong.

She felt herself slowly melting back into her body, until she was back to normal, and became aware of the fact that there was something holding onto her ankle.

A horrible chill swept through her as she looked down at her foot. The moon’s light shone on the cold, dark water, creating bright, ever-moving patches, but through them she could see something slimy wrapped around her foot, glistening with wet water droplets in the dim light. Ginny gasped, jerking her foot back, and splashing herself in the face by doing so. There was a horrible jerk on her foot, and the slimy something wrapped more tightly around her ankle. Ginny stared at her foot with wide, fearful eyes, but nothing happened.

Keeping water out of her face with one hand, she managed to hold herself up as she carefully drew herself up to her foot. She bit her lip, reached out, and froze. Inches above the slimy thing she hesitated. Then she took a deep breath, and plunged her hand down, grasping it and yanking it away from her leg.

With a cold jolt in her stomach, she realized it was alive as it swept out of her hand and fastened itself once more around her ankle. Another jolt of terror swept through her as she realized that her other foot was caught too. For a moment she just hung there, scared, and then, without warning, she was jerked down into the freezing cold, watery depths.


Chapter 4: Fade
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The song later in this chapter is from Lord of the Rings 3. Yes, I know it wasn’t out in the 90s but just pretend it was. I’m really sorry for the wait, I promise to update sooner next time.

I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone who has been R&R-ing. I really appreciate it and I hope you guys all stay with this fic till the end. Thanks!!! Now, to the chapter...

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Chapter 4: Fade


A short shriek escaped her lips before she plunged into the water, and she didn’t have time to draw a breath. Bubbles emerged from her mouth and nose and she frantically struggled to get upwards. But the strong, slimy grip on her ankles never wavered and pulled her down, down, down....

Water seemed to be flowing into her mouth, choking her, dragging her away from life. Her brain was fogging and the lights on the surface of the water were disappearing. She struggled desperately, trying to get out of the thing’s grip, but it held on tightly. Her hands flew down and fastened around it, pulling at it, tearing, scratching. Something slapped her across the face and her head floated back, her hair spreading around her in the water. She was losing consciousness, fast.

Suddenly her hand brushed against the wand in her pocket. She struggled to get it out, and sent a jet of boiling water at the thing that was holding on to her. A brilliant flash of light suddenly illuminated the darkness around her. The moment she saw, she wished she’d never made this plan. Holding onto her was the giant squid, and below it lurked the mermaids with their spears pointed straight at her, anger and hatred in their eyes. But after that momentary flash, everything went dark again and she had no idea where anything or anyone was.

She used her last strength to pull herself free of the hurt squid, and, not even worrying about the mermaids that could be swimming all around her, she pulled herself towards the surface. As the glimmering lights of the moon reached her sight, her eyes fell shut and a last line of bubbles escaped her lips.

***


“...Where did you find her?”

“F-floating in the l-lake, Professor.”

“When?”

“Last n-night. I heard a shriek. I... I ran to the – the Common Room, a-and there was a note on m-my table. Sh-she said she’d gone to the l-lake, and when I g-got out there, it – it was t-too late and she’d floated in and... and now...”

Ginny heard two voices near her, talking. There seemed to be more people though, because she could hear people crying somewhere. The second voice sounded somehow familiar, but she didn’t know where she’d heard it before...

“My goodness... She must have been walking there, and the giant squid pulled her in...” This voice was familiar to her too. “There will – will be a funeral for her.” Suddenly this person started crying too.

“How long can w-we stay here?” This was a boy’s voice...

“I’ll get you when you have to leave, Mr. Potter.”

Mr. Potter...

Suddenly the name registered. Mr. Potter – Harry – drowning – lake – merpeople – squid. Suddenly everything made sense. Hermione had found her and thought she was dead. A cold stone seemed to drop in her stomach. She could barely keep from gasping. She wasn’t dead! She was very much alive! But then, suddenly, her thoughts floated in order and she remembered why she’d been outside in the first place.

The horrible image of the merpeople and hurt squid invaded her thoughts. She realized how lucky she was to be alive. A queasy feeling started in her stomach, and she noticed that if she hadn’t fainted in the lake, her plan would have failed. This created a chain of thoughts so complicated that she gave up trying to follow them. For a moment she just lay there, exhausted. The queasy feeling on her stomach got stronger. She tasted something strange in her mouth. Suddenly she realized that she was about to vomit, and without thinking, she turned over to the edge of the bed, coughing violently. There were sudden shouts and a panicked call of “Madam Pomfrey!” and Ginny realized what she had done.

Her eyes flew open, and she saw Madam Pomfrey running toward her from the office. Hermione was on her feet beside the bed, her bushy hair everywhere. Ron was white, sitting in his chair, staring at Ginny as if she had just risen from the dead. Harry was leaning over from his chair, his arms reaching for Ginny. Ginny looked around at them all, realizing that she had just ruined her entire plan. Madam Pomfrey stopped at the foot of the bed, looking shocked and terrified.

For a moment everything seemed frozen, then Madam Pomfrey ran to the side of the bed, gently pushing Ron away. Ginny scrambled to the bedside table, grabbing at her wand. “Ginny!” Harry cried, trying to pull her back into the bed.

“No!” she yelled fiercely, not ready to give up yet.

“Miss Weasley! You are hurting yourself!” Madam Pomfrey had wrapped her arms around Ginny and was pulling her back to the bed, but Ginny’s fingers had caught hold of the wand. She whispered her incantation so that the others wouldn’t hear her, and felt herself ripping away from her body. She floated upward and saw her body falling limply into Madam Pomfrey’s arms.

The poor nurse looked as if she was going through a heart attack. She felt frantically for Ginny’s pulse, and when she found none, she looked up at the three seventh years, tears forming in her eyes. “She’s gone,” she whispered.

***


Ginny hovered a few feet above the coffin, looking eagerly down at it. The man in black reached down and opened it slowly. She swooped down, expecting to see herself holding her wand and seemingly sleeping peacefully.

But the sight that met her eyes was not at all what she’d expected. Someone had rearranged her so that her hands were folded neatly on her chest, her wand next to her body. Ginny gasped. How would she get back into her body now?!

She barely even noticed the words sounding all around her. She only knew that now she had absolutely no chance whatsoever to get back into her body. She would be stuck like this forever, like a ghost that not even ghosts could see, and alone, with no contact to the world. She floated defeatedly into an empty chair and let a few tears run down her cheeks.

How could I be so stupid?! she thought, anger plaguing her thoughts. This was bound to happen, I was asking for it! In her anger, she hit the back of the chair, hard. But her hand just floated through, and her frustration increased.

Then she caught sight of who was sitting behind her.

Harry.

His eyes were red and puffy. There were tears running uncontrollably down his cheeks, and he was shaking. Beside him sat Ron, holding Hermione. They were crying into each other’s shoulders. On Harry’s other side, Ginny saw the twins. They were both looking unseeingly through Ginny at the coffin, faces glazed, frozen and unmovable. Neither of them were crying, but they looked closer to it than she had even thought possible. Beyond them sat Charlie, Bill, and Fleur. The boys were biting their lips and wiping furiously at their eyes while Fleur held a handkerchief to her face. Beside Ron sat her parents, crying harder than anyone. Molly rocked in her husband’s arms, but nothing could calm her.

Ginny looked back at Harry, and realized with a jolt that he was staring straight at her. Her heart pounded and her eyes widened. Did he know that she was there? But then, turning around, she realized that he was looking through her, at the coffin.

And with another unpleasant jolt, she realized what she’d done to all of them. Her eyes widened in horror, and she wished that she had thought a bit more about everyone else before “drowning.” But she hadn’t. And now, here they were, crying over a death that had never happened, not knowing that she was still among them and would always be.

Suddenly everyone seemed to come out of trances and looked up, crying harder that before. Ginny turned and faced forward, deciding to pay attention. She saw the lid being lowered, and as she pulled herself back to the present, she heard the last few words of a cry: “... in her hand!”

She looked back over her shoulder, realizing it was Harry who had yelled. Everyone else turned to him as well. He repeated his words, not a falter in his strong voice. “Put her wand in her hand!” Ginny turned back hopefully, wanting to se her wand in her hand, but knowing it was too good to be true.

“We can’t do that.” It was the fat little man, looking at Harry disapprovingly.

“Listen to me,” said Harry firmly, almost angrily. “She was my girlfriend. I love her. She was an amazing witch, and I want her to be able to do magic even in death.”

“Yeah!” cried Ron. “She should!”

“Put it in her hand!” called Charlie.

Soon more voices joined theirs, and the fat man threw up his hands exasperatedly. “All right,” he said softly.

And he gently placed the wand in Ginny’s fingers.

Ginny felt a burst of electricity go through her. She could go back... She envisioned herself flying over and reversing the spell, revealing herself and her plan, and end everyone’s grieving. But just as quickly as this image came, her thoughts were extinguished by a Hermione-ish voice saying that that would be the death of them all.

***


Ginny snuck away from the black coffin, safe under the cover of the night. The graveyard was deserted and cold. She shivered, waving her wand. The grave righted itself and looked as it had before she’d climbed out. The pale moon cast a soft light about her, and her feet rustled the leaves as she walked. She pulled her newly conjured jacket more tightly around her, dragging the gate of the cemetery closed behind her. She glanced back into it, and turned away. She slipped silently into the woods and walked until she had tired out. Then she sat down and conjured a small fire which only she could see.

The flames danced around, throwing her face in and out of shadow. As she sat watching the flames, a song from a Muggle movie played in her mind. Softly she started singing.

"Home is behind
The world ahead
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadow, to the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight
Mist and shadow
Cloud and shade
All shall fade
All shall...
Fade..."



Chapter 5: Woods and Words
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. I am so sorry for not updating in ages. I’ll try to update sooner next time.

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Chapter 5: Woods and Words


Soft daylight filtered through Ginny’s half-closed eyes. The sun was warm on her face and bright under her eyelids. She felt herself waking up, and tried to return to her dream. But that prooved impossible as she noticed a piercing pain in her back. She slowly opened her eyes and blinked quickly in the bright sunlight, then shifted her weight away from the tree that she was leaning against. She stood up slowly, her entire body aching.

The clearing that she was standing in was only a few feet into the woods, and she could still see the gate to the graveyard. The trees around her seemed to shimmer in the morning sunlight, and she rubbed her eyes tiredly.

Ginny stepped around the tree she’d been sleeping against and looked into the depths of the woods. She felt lost and exhausted, and for the first time, the weight of what she’d done truly hit her.

She was alone. Completely alone. No one in the world could help her now. She was no longer Ginny Weasley, and she knew she had to stop thinking of herself as this girl that she’d been for so long. And she realized that she’d condemned herself to start from scratch, and that now she had nothing. She had to show the Order that she was truly worthy to be part of them, and how could she do that when she was completely and totally unknown to them? She realized that she’d have to make up a new name for herself. What would that be? And she had to survive on her own for a while, homeless. She had no food, shelter, or money except for a few sickles and knuts. Not even a single galleon.

She took an uncertain step forward, and pain shot through her foot and up her leg. Tears welled in her eyes and she fell against the tree, wishing that she’d never made this stupid plan. She slid to the ground and found that she’d cut her foot on a glass shard that was lying on the ground. Something poked her side, and she pulled her wand from her pocket. She gasped. It had broken in two.

The tears in her eyes spilled over and she cried. She didn’t even have her wand now! How could she ever prove to the Order that she was good enough to work with them without her wand? She was lost, and now there was no way of finding her way back.

As if in a trance she stood up again, slipping the splinters of her wand back into her pocket. She tore some cloth off her skirt and tied it around her bleeding foot. Another shot of pain flew through her. But she forced herself to push on, and she walked as quickly as she could into the woods, knowing that on the other side was London, where she would find Number 12, Grimmauld Place.

***


Harry was lying on his bed in the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory. He had told Ron and Hermione that he would be studying for his NEWTs. His Potions book lay open beside him, and pages and pages of notes were tossed carelessly on top of it. In his hands was a picture of Ginny and him, arms around each other and laughing together.

A tear slipped down his cheek, and he bit his lip to keep from crying. Thoughts were racing through his head, chasing one another, haphazardly being contemplated. Another tear fell, and he shuddered as a chill swept through him. Suddenly his scar prickled, and he thought he could hear someone hissing, “So she’s dead, eh?”

***


Ron and Hermione sat together, staring at the fire in the Common Room. Their eyes followed the flickering dance of the flames, trying to keep all thoughts out of their minds. They weren’t the only ones in the Common Room, and most other students were sitting together just like them, subdued and sad. There was silence except for the flickering of the flames and the occasional rustle of papers as someone tried to study.

But everyone knew that it was all pretend, and that all they were thinking about Ginny Weasley’s death. No one moved or said anything, but they all knew. It was almost like a silent agreement that they all had decided not to talk about it.

Dean Thomas suddenly stood up and walked over to where Ron and Hermione were sitting. Slowly they looked up at him. “I – I think you should go check on Harry,” he said, so softly that it was almost a whisper. For a moment they just stared at him, then Ron got up and pulled Hermione with him. He gave Dean a strained smile and walked towards the dormitories. The steps seemed to echo around the Common Room, which followed their process as if captivated. Ron opened the door for Hermione and followed her through, closing it quietly behind him. He saw Hermione’s lip quiver and pulled her close to him.

***


Harry lay staring at the canopy of the bed above him, not seeing anything. The words replayed in his mind. So she’s dead... She’s dead... Dead... He was certain that it had been Voldemort who had said them, he knew the hissing voice only too well. But why had he heard Voldemort? Didn’t he know how to use Occlumency to his advantage? Or had he meant for Harry to hear?

Footsteps outside startled him, and he jumped up and grabbed his wand instinctively. The picture of Ginny floated to the ground, but he kept his eyes trained on the door. There was a soft knock and it was pushed open. Ron and Hermione entered, and looked slightly shocked at Harry’s ready position.

Harry fell back onto the bed, his wand cluttering to the floor. Ron and Hermione stood at the door, uncertain what to do. Harry sat up, resting his head in his hands. “What’s happened?” he whispered.

“Nothing, mate. W-we just wanted to check on you,” replied Ron quietly.

“I’m fine,” said Harry shortly, reaching down and picking up his wand and the picture.

“No.” Hermione was looking at him, her eyes full of concern. “You’re pale and you look sick. What happened?”

Harry glanced from her to Ron, then reached up to his forehead. They rushed to his bed and sat down on either side of him, looking at him anxiously.

“It – it was him. He was talking to someone... He said, So she’s dead, eh? And I thought... remember Occlumency? Well, wouldn’t Voldemort have mastered it by now? So I was thinking, either he wasn’t paying attention, or...”

“He wanted you to hear,” Hermione finished quietly. She sat still for a moment, then added, “Go to McGonagall. The Order has to know. Now.” She stood up, and Ron followed suit.

“Wait...” Harry said. “Do you know what this means? I’ve lost my family, Sirius, Dumbledore, and now Ginny. Whatever the proof, I don’t believe her death was an accident. I’ve lost so many people to Voldemort, and I’m afraid you two will be next. I can’t live knowing any moment might be your last. So please, do whatever you can to stay safe, and I’ll be able to sleep every night. Don’t ever lose focus and please, please be careful. I can’t lose you two as well.”

***


The first stars were blossoming in the evening as Ginny stumbled through the woods. She was scratched, cut, and bruised. Her hair was tangled and matted and tears streaked through the dirt coating her face. The pieces of her wand were clutched in her hand, and she was practically running through the brush. She had a horrible cramp in her side and her stomach ached of hunger. Somehow she knew that it wasn’t far now. If only she could get out of the woods before the night really started...

***


Harry followed Ron and Hermione through the Common Room and out the portrait hole. They hurried along the halls, almost running by the time they arrived at McGonagall’s office. Hermione knocked tentatively, and the Headmistress’s voice told them to enter.

Professor McGonagall was sitting at her desk, scrolls of parchment littering the wood. The three students approached her desk. She looked critically at each of them before Harry started talking.

“I was in the dormitory and my scar hurt again. I heard Voldemort, and he said ‘So she’s dead, eh?’ He must have been referring to Ginny. But two years ago, he had to use Occlumency against me because I kept seeing what he was up to. This time it was really faint. So I thought that either he was not paying attention, or he wanted me to hear. Hermione thought you should know.”

“Thank you for saying this, Mr. Potter,” she said gravely, watching him over the top of her spectacles. “I will think about this a little, and discuss it with the Order. If this happens again, please let me know. Also, I must ask you to go to Professor Dumbledore’s former office. The gargoyle has told me that it will open only to Harry Potter, so there must be something of importance for you there. Miss Granger, thank you for urging Potter to come. And Mr. Weasley, you cannot imagine how sorry I am for the loss of your sister.”

Ron nodded mutely, but Hermione glanced between her two friends before gathering the courage to speak. “Professor... Harry said that he believes Ginny’s death might not have been an accident. He thought Death Eaters got her. I think you could discuss this at the meeting too.”

McGonagall smiled slightly. “You have a good mind, Mr. Potter,” she said quietly.

***


Ginny stumbled, falling to her knees as her left foot entangled itself in a stray tree root. She pulled herself up and willed herself forward, pushing on, running. The stars and moon weren’t nearly bright enough to let her see the ground. But she kept running. The pain was building in her legs, and her arms felt heavy. Her head was spinning, and she felt feverish. All she could think was keep going, you’re almost there, keep going, almost there... But it wasn’t enough. Her lack of food and energy got the better of her, and she tipped over, the dark world around her swirling into blackness.

When she woke up, the darkness was fading. Gray light was taking the place of what had previously been dark black. Ginny pulled herself up, trying to run her hand through her hair, but entangling her fingers in a thousand knots. She coughed dryly, and her throat ached. Forcing herself forward, Ginny started walking. Somehow she knew that her situation was at its worst, and couldn’t get more horrible.

Hours later, she found that the trees were becoming thinner and more well-groomed. She came to a dirt path that was beaten through the bushes and she smiled. Not far now... she thought, walking on. She did not follow the path, but walked through the trees. The bushes were rapidly disappearing and the going became easier. Soon she was able to run. Finally, she could see though the trees into a well-kept green park. Laughing with relief, she hurried the last few feet and collapsed on the first park bench that she found.


Chapter 6: Kingsley
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. Thanks to everyone who has stayed with this fic since the beginning. I love you guys!

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Chapter 6: Kingsley


“Remind me again, why are we doing this?” Ron whispered angrily to Harry and Hermione, pulling his cloak more tightly around him.

“Quiet, Mr. Weasley,” hissed Professor McGonagall harshly, increasing her already brisk pace.

They were hurrying across the grounds in the middle of the night. The cold air was biting them, but they only had to run to the gates and Apparate away. It wasn’t very far. Harry answered Ron’s question quietly, turning so McGonagall wouldn’t hear. “Because we have to go to the meeting with the Order.”

“When did that happen? Why is there a meeting in the middle of the night? And why are we invited, when we’re normally not allowed to go anywhere near the Order? And why didn’t you go up to Dumbledore’s office yet, Harry?” Ron hissed back, louder than he meant to.

Quiet!” McGonagall whispered, waving her wand slightly angrily. Ron’s mouth formed another few questions, but no sound could be heard. Harry and Hermione stifled giggles. McGonagall sent harsh looks in their directions, and they quieted down. “Once we get there, you can talk.”

***


The park bench wasn’t particularly comfortable, but Ginny liked it anyways. It was something to rest on. She was out of the woods, and in a beautiful park all by herself. She didn’t have to worry about anything for now. With the warm sun on her face, she fell into a deep, relaxing sleep.

“Mummy, look! Look, there’s a girl there! She looks so alone and dirty! Mummy, what’s wrong with her? What happened to her?”

“I don’t know, darling, but let’s not bother her now, she looks quite tired, the poor thing.”

“But, Mummy...”

Ginny blinked slowly. She heard the two voices talking, but she didn’t realize that they were talking about her. She pulled herself up into a sitting position and saw a young woman with a little daughter staring at her. She looked back at them, surprised, and the little girl smiled happily.

“Umm...” said Ginny uncertainly. She felt rather lost and flustered. She’d just run through the woods after pretending to die, witnessing her own funeral, and digging herself out of her own grave. Somehow, she didn’t think these two people would quite understand her situation.

“Hi!” said the little girl finally, a bright tone in her happy voice. The mother picked her up gently and rested the little girl on her hip.

“Hi,” replied Ginny groggily, still a bit exhausted from her crazy journey.

“What happened to you? You look really tired and hurt,” said the little girl bluntly. Her mother tried to shush her, but the girl looked at Ginny eagerly.

“Um, nothing major,” Ginny lied. She glanced back and forth between the girl and the mother.

The girl’s mother smiled warmly at Ginny, deciding to find out what had happened to her. “Where are your parents? Shouldn’t a girl like you be off with your friends on a beautiful day like this?” she asked.

Ginny’s eyes darkened, and she searched the woman’s face suspiciously. “I have no friends,” Ginny lied. “I have no family.”

The little girl’s smile faded, and she looked at Ginny in shock. “No family? No mother, or father, or sister? I don’t have a sister either, but I want one. An older sister. Mummy, can I have an older sister?”

Ginny couldn’t help smiling. The girl’s mother smiled as well, and sat down beside Ginny. “What happened to them?” she asked sympathetically.

“They died,” said Ginny shortly, trying not to see the irony in her lie.

“I’m so sorry,” the woman replied, setting her daughter down between them. “Are you living all by yourself, then? I’ve never seen you before.”

“Well, it only happened very recently, and this is only my second or third day all by myself. Or is it the first? I really don’t know,” Ginny said, halfway honest for once.

“Are you sure you’re going to survive out here, all alone? How will you get food?” the woman asked, obviously very concerned about Ginny.

Ginny shook her head, whispering, “I don’t know.” The word food suddenly triggered an explosion of hunger in her, and her stomach cramped up. She gasped in pain and her arms jerked towards her stomach. She folded herself tightly into a ball, trying to make the pain leave, to make it go away. She had no food, no water, no shelter, no wand, no anything. Tears flowed from her eyes and she gasped for air, feeling herself slip slowly but surely into unconsciousness once more.

***


Now will you tell me why we are doing this?” Ron hissed, still angry for going to Grimmauld Place in the middle of the night.

“Oh, Ron. Don’t you understand?” Hermione answered exasperatedly. “McGonagall just called a meeting of the Order, and now we have to wait for them to arrive. It doesn’t matter that it’s late, but this is urgent. And we’re supposed to be here because we’re of age now and anyway, Harry heard Voldemort talking, so how would they have a meeting about him without him? And Harry hasn’t gone to Dumbledore’s yet because there wasn’t time. Really, Ron, you are slow sometimes.”

“Sorry... just tired, you know...” muttered Ron, sinking back into his armchair.

They were in the kitchen of Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Professor McGonagall had left for a little while, and now the three of them were alone. They were waiting for the Order to arrive, having butterbeers as they waited.

Harry was staring at the cabinet in the corner, not really seeing anything. He was thinking about the time when Ginny had sat there, playing with Crookshanks such a long time ago.

A sudden burst of flames caused the three teenagers to jump. The green flames flew up from the fireplace and Tonks fell out, stumbling as she did so. Hermione jumped up and steadied her. “Hello Tonks,” she said.

“Hi, Hermione, Harry, Ron!” Tonks replied brightly. “Where is everyone?”

“Not here yet,” Ron replied, settling back into his chair. He curled up and fell asleep. Hermione led Tonks to the table and summoned another butterbeer. “Thanks,” Tonks said with a smile, uncorking it and taking a big drink. “Listen, Harry, I need to talk to you,” she said suddenly, putting her butterbeer back down on the table.

He looked up and pushed himself out of the chair, following her gloomily into the hall.

“Listen, Harry. I know you’ve just lost Ginny, but you can’t take her death like this,” Tonks said quietly.

Harry looked at her, surprised that this was coming from Tonks. He stared at her silently, waiting for her to go on.

“Say something, Harry,” Tonks urged.

“What is there to say?” he asked gloomily.

“My goodness, Harry! Say you hate this place. Say hello Tonks. The sky is blue. I like butterbeer. Anything!” Tonks cried.

“Umm, this place is horribly dark and it wasn’t so horribly dark when Ginny was here?” he said uncertainly, wondering what she was up to.

“Ok, now something that doesn’t have to do with Ginny in any way at all.”

Harry was silent.

“Come on Harry... you’ve got to think of something...” she urged.

From the kitchen came the sound of flames. “Someone else just came, we should probably get back,” Harry said. He still had no idea what Tonks was doing.

“Come on then,” she said briskly, opening the door and following him through. Harry didn’t see the small triumphant smile on her face.

***


Once again, Ginny felt herself waking up to warm bright light and the sound of voices. It suddenly occurred to her how funny it was that she kept fainting and waking up to the warmth of the sun, and she half-laughed.

The voices near her stopped, and she could feel people watching her. She opened her eyes and felt as if someone had hit her over the head. She felt suddenly light-headed and confused, and her heart was pounding horribly inside her. Her fingers grasped the blanket covering her and she stared in horror at the family standing over her.

The woman and her little girl were standing beside what appeared to be the man of the family, a tall black man with a gold earring. It wasn’t this that was bothering her, it was the fact that she knew this man, she knew him only too well.

It was Kingsley Shackelbolt.

Ginny’s breath had caught in her throat and she was staring at them in horror. A sudden spark of recognition lit up Kingsley’s dark eyes, but he didn’t seem to recognize her completely. “Wh-who are you?” Ginny stuttered, horribly aware of the fact that Kingsley most certainly knew of her ‘death.’ She knew that she had to do whatever she could to conceal her identity now, and a good way to start was to pretend to be ignorant.

“Kingsley Shakelbolt. This is my sister Jenna and her daughter Ellie. Who are you?” he replied. His eyes narrowed suspiciously as Ginny shrunk back into the bed, shaking, at a loss for what to say. Kingsley watched her, his dark eyes calculating and suspicious.

Ginny’s eyes were wide with fear of being recognized, and her breath had quickened with her heart rate. She’d made it this far, and she couldn’t be caught now. She knew that if she stayed here much longer, he would recognize her even through the dirt on her face and the brownish color of her hair.

She glanced at Jenna then at Ellie, who was looking at her with curiosity. She looked back at Kingsley, and jumped from the bed. In a flash she had sprinted from the room and into a hallway. Her sharp instincts told her to turn left and she sprinted down the hall and down a staircase, hearing shouts of “Hey! Come back!” from Jenna, running footsteps, and the swish of a wand. Her reflexes slowed her down, and she ducked behind a vase which shattered from Kingsley’s freezing spell.

Ginny dodged around the broken vase and ran through a comfortable-looking living room, coming to a kitchen and a back door. She wrenched the door open and sprinted out into the yard, hearing the others following her. Trusting her instincts, she turned right and dodged another spell, slipping in the slightly wet grass. Quickly she pulled herself up, ducking behind a deck chair as a third spell whizzed by her. Holding onto the chair, she tossed her head around violently to free her hair from the dried mud. She felt it breaking free and tossed it so that it covered her face. She wouldn’t risk them recognizing her as she escaped. Looking carefully through the strands of hair and mud, she saw Kingsley and Jenna approaching the table from the other side, looking through its glass surface at her. She heard a little laugh to the right, and glanced over her shoulder to see Ellie watching them, an entertained look on her face. “Yay! Go Mummy and Kingsley and Ginny! Keep playing!”

A stone seemed to drop in her stomach. They knew. They knew it was her. Ginny realized that Jenna must have put down the little girl, telling her that she and Kingsley had to catch Ginny Weasley who had pretended to be dead to keep everyone else safe... She looked back at Kingsley and Jenna. She sighed and relaxed her hold on the chair as the fight left her, letting her shoulders slump. She shook her hair back from her face and stood up, looking Kingsley confidently in the eye. Now that she was caught, no use resisting, she decided. “Well...” she said quietly. “I guess I’m caught.”


Chapter 7: Kingsley's Decision
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. Sorry that this chapter is a bit shorter than usual, but it’s sort of a transition chapter type thing if that makes sense....

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Chapter 7: Kingsley’s Decision


Kingsley stared at her, a shocked expression on his face. Ginny looked determinedly back, unsure of what to do now. She knew that he knew that she was Ginny Weasley, and she expected him to say something now. But he just stared back at her, at a loss for what to say. Finally, Ellie ran up to Ginny and began tugging on her hand. Ginny picked her up and held her, letting the little girl play with the mud in her hair.

“You do know that allowing yourself to be caught is not very much like the Ginny Weasley I know,” Kingsley said suddenly, causing her to look up with a dark expression clouding her face.

“Well, the Ginny Weasley you know is dead, she drowned in the lake and you were at her funeral,” Ginny replied, remembering that she’d seen him sitting behind Harry.

For a moment Kingsley was silent. “But why? Why did you leave? What did you want to do? And why are you here now, after faking your death? Do you have any idea how sad Harry is?” he said.

“I did it to keep you all safe. If I hadn’t... well, you know Voldemort. He’s taken everyone closest to Harry. If he knew how close we were... It put our family in so much danger, and I couldn’t live like that. I thought, if I could pretend to die, take on a new identity, and work with the Order, I’d keep everyone much safer,” she explained.

“That’s true...” Kingsley muttered. “But it’s putting everyone through so much pain...”

“I know,” Ginny said quietly.

“How did you get here? Jenna told me that she found you on a park bench by the woods.”

“I dug myself out of the grave and came here through the woods.”

“That’s a four-day walk, Ginny!” he cried, astonished. “Did you have any food, or water, or anything?”

“No...” she replied, not eager to discuss her horrible journey. Had it really been that long?

“But you do have your wand with you, don’t you?” he asked.

Ginny was silent, biting her lip. She only remembered now. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the splinters that had once been a perfectly functioning wand.

***


“Where is that Kingsley Shackelbolt?” snapped McGonagall, pacing through the kitchen. Every member of the Order but him was there, and since he was the one doing the research on magical scars, there was no use starting the meeting without him.

“Maybe he missed the signal?” Tonks suggested. “Kingsley’s not usually late unless something really huge came up.”

“I’ll go get him,” said Remus Lupin, standing up from his chair.

“All right, but be quick about it,” McGonagall said. “And Ronald Weasley, wake up. If you cannot stay awake during the meetings, you will not be invited to any others.”

“Sorry...” muttered Ron sleepily as the twins and Hermione chuckled.

Harry just stared miserably into the fire.

***


Ginny told them everything. How she’d decided at Bill and Fleur’s wedding almost a year ago and how she’d been scared all year long, how she’d planned and practiced everything so perfectly. She told them about the problems she’d had in the lake, and at the funeral, and finally in the woods. By the time she finished it was well into the evening and Jenna had put Ellie to bed.

Sipping a hot cup of tea, Ginny listened to Kingsley’s news of the Order for the past week. Eventually Jenna went to bed as well, and Kingsley and Ginny were left alone. It was in this moment of silence that they both heard a crack downstairs. Kingsley froze, and before he could stop her, Ginny had bolted out of the bed and into the closet, not dripping a single drop of tea in her hurry. She quickly but carefully pulled the door shut and hid herself amongst the coats. Kingsley was surprised at her gracefullness.

Downstairs, Remus Lupin quietly slipped throughout the rooms, looking for Kingsley. As he got to the stairs, Kingsley stepped out of the shadows at him, his wand ready at his side. “Oh, there you are,” Remus said, disregarding the wand. “Did you not get the signal?”

“Signal?” said Kingsley blankly, slipping his wand back into his pocket.

“Yes, we need to have a meeting with the Order. We need your research on scars.”

“What’s happened?” Kingsley asked, turning and walking toward his study.

Lupin followed, saying, “Harry’s scar hurt again. We need yours and Arthur’s research because Harry is really worried this time.”

“Why do you need both of ours?” Kingsley asked, pulling his folder from the filing cabinet.

“Because Harry's worrying about Voldemort's Occlumency and Legimency. We need Arthur's research on the mind and yours on scars. Now come on, we need to get started.” Lupin started walking towards the door, but Kingsley turned to the stairs.

“I need to tell Jenna that I’m going,” he said quickly.

“She’s here again?” asked Lupin.

“Yes, she comes whenever her husband’s away. You know, feeling unsafe in her home without him,” he explained, quietly opening Jenna’s door. She was reading. “I’m going to a meeting with the Order,” he said quietly, noticing Ellie sleeping in her own bed.

“Ok,” Jenna replied, “but be quick about it.”

He nodded, closing the door. He slipped into his own room and opened the closet. “Ginny, come on out.”

“Is it safe?” her voice asked, her face suddenly appearing between coats.

“Yes,” he said, making a quick decision. “Come on.” She slipped out and sat on the bed.

“We have to go somewhere,” Kingsley said, walking to the door.

“Where?” Ginny asked, her eyes narrowing.

“Come on,” he repeated. From downstairs came Lupin’s voice asking where he was.

Ginny gasped, and in a flash she was back in the closet. “No, Ginny!” Kingsley hissed. “You have to come to the meeting, you need to go back!”

“No, I don’t!” came her muffled voice from inside. He tried to pull it open, but she had a firm grip and wouldn’t let him.

Footsteps outside signaled Lupin’s arrival. “What’s wrong?” he asked, seeing Kingsley’s hands firmly on the closet doors.

Kingsley thought fast. He could either reveal Ginny now and face her anger, or he could cover for her. Neither seemed like a particularly good option, but he had to choose one, fast. Suddenly he could tell that she had pulled back deep into the closet, hiding, and he made his decision. “I can’t open the closet to get a jacket,” he lied, pretending to tug hopelessly at the doors.

“Here...” Lupin said, walking forward to try.

“No, it’s all right, there are some robes downstairs. I’ll fix it later, when we don’t have a meeting to get to,” he said carefully, leading Lupin out of the room and down the stairs. He could almost see Ginny relaxing in the closet, knowing that she wasn’t about to be turned in. The secret was still hers.

No.

It was theirs now. He knew, Jenna knew, and Ellie knew. Ellie probably didn’t understand, but he and Jenna did. He suddenly realized what situation he’d put himself in. They were the only ones who knew what had happened to Ginny and what she wanted. They were the only ones who could give her this. She would ask them to transform her into someone else and help her rejoin the wizarding world. If they didn’t do that for her, she’d surely run off to try by herself. How could she without a wand and without any help? He knew what he was a part of now, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. But he had to do whatever he could to help Ginny. In the long run, he knew that it would help everyone else as well.



A/N Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who’s R&Ring. Thanks to anyone who’s reading this, and even more to those who are leaving reviews. Those reviews make me so happy. ♥ Also, some of you have been asking if this fic is almost over. As you probably realized in this chapter, it’s not, and in case that last part was confusing, Ginny’s going to stay secret (think of the title of this fic).




Chapter 8: The Scar on His Forehead
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. This chapter is based almost completely on my imagination, and I did no research whatsoever so it probably goes against canon in every possible way. The poem is all mine except for that one line from Harry Potter that you will no doubt recognize.

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Chapter 8: The Scar on his Forehead


Ginny heard Kingsley tell Lupin that he couldn’t open the closet, barely daring to breath. If she was discovered now... With a jolt she realized that he was pulling at the door, and she jumped back. But he didn’t open it... “Here...” said Lupin’s voice.

“No, it’s all right, there are some robes downstairs. I’ll fix it later, when we don’t have a meeting to get to.” That was Kingsley. Thank you... she thought gratefully, relaxing back into the robes that hung all around her.

She heard the two men’s footsteps retreating downstairs and the two pops that told her they had left. She slipped out of the closet and back into the bed, wrapping the blankets tightly around her.

***

“There you are, finally,” said McGonagall. “Do you have your research, Kingsley?”

“Yes,” he answered with a tight smile. He sat down beside Arthur Weasley and put his folder down onto the old wooden table. A butterbeer whizzed at him from the pantry and he opened it as McGonagall started the meeting.
“Thank you all for coming. We were hoping not to meet up again for a while, but something has come up that we fear may bring complications to our current plans,” she said with authority. She turned to the young wizard beside her. “Harry?”

“In my fifth year, I was taught Occlumency,” Harry began, carefully avoiding the name of his teacher. “This was to protect myself from Voldemort, and it has worked. I have not had a vision of him or heard him since the end of that year. However, I was just sitting in my dormitory a little while ago, and I heard him again. Now, you all know that he tried to protect himself from me as well, to stop this from happening. So why did I hear him? He said, So she’s dead, eh? He was obviously referring to Ginny. I think he wanted me to hear. But I don’t know why.”

The Order was silent for a few moments. Hermione nudged Ron and he awoke with a start. Kingsley scanned through his papers of research, wishing he could find something that might help Harry. There was nothing.

“Harry?” It was Arthur. “Do you still practice Occlumency every night?”

“Yes. I do what Sn – my teacher taught me, which is to clear my mind of all thought. I’ve even had Ron and Hermione try to break in a few times. They’ve never succeeded. So I don’t understand how this happened.”

Kingsley looked intensely at Harry for a few minutes, focusing on the scar. A sudden realization struck him and he looked through his research quickly, extracting a particularly messy page. “This is from an old book I found in the Hogwarts library...” he said, scanning down the hastily scribbled notes to find what he was looking for.

“One dark lord, and a boy yet so young
locked in a war for years to come.
A scar received so long ago,
none before have been just so.
A transfer of powers, the dark lord’s bane
has been revealed: a boy seemingly plain.
But the boy has powers the dark lord knows not,
with terror and sorrow his future is wrought.
The ones he holds dearest will die by his side,
one will be driven for his safety to hide.
The scar on his forehead, like lightning is its glow,
it links to the dark lord, his thoughts does it show.”


There was a huge silence, in which ever member of the Order stared at Kingsley. Then an uncertain voice started speaking. “One dark lord, a boy yet so young... Where have I heard that before?” It was Hermione, biting her lip and looking agitated.

Kingsley couldn’t help smiling slightly. “It’s on the very first page of Hogwarts, a History.”

Hermione gasped, looking as though she had been struck by the most astonishing thought ever. She stared from Kingsley to Harry, and tears filled her eyes. “I can’t believe it...” she whispered. “Harry, that poem’s talking about you...”

“I... kind of... realized that...” he said uncomfortably, wondering what was so amazing.

“There’s more, Kingsley, what’s the rest? Oh, I can’t remember!” Hermione cried, seemingly determined to gain more information about something. Harry had the strong feeling that he was missing something hugely important.

“That was it,” Kingsley said. “There may have been more, but it was very faded out.”

“No, there’s more! I know there is!” she cried, frustrated. “I read it once, in my first year, and never again! I thought it wasn’t that important! But it’s talking about Harry, and Voldemort, and now everything’s happening...” Hermione’s ranting dwindled into a hiss of anger directed at herself.

Harry stared at her for a moment, totally lost for words, and then cried out, “Will someone please explain what is going on?!”

“That poem, Harry, was written thousands of years ago, by Salazar Slytherin,” stated Kingsley. “He left it in his office when he left, wanting to frighten the other founders into calling him back. They knew he had the gift of Seeing, and they also knew he had a very pale lightning shaped scar on his forehead.”

Harry’s hand rose to his own forehead in horror. He looked more confused than ever.

“He never told anyone how he’d gotten it. At the same time, there was a steady rise of evil. There were rumors of a dark lord rising. Slytherin wanted the other three founders to reaccept him, and through his cunning plans and careful manipulations, he decided to play both the hero and the dark lord. It did not go as planned for him, and the Three Founders, now having permanently expelled him, thought nothing of his poem. But he remained firmly set on the fact that he alone was the hero in this story. When he died, his poem was passed on to his only son. It is said that it is still being passed down through the years. No one knows who has it now and the only written record of it, besides the original, is printed on the first page of Hogwarts, a History. Faithful Slytherins still believe that the hero in the poem is yet to appear.”

A shocked silence followed this speech. Harry was the first to speak. “And you think I am this hero? And Voldemort is this dark lord? That’s...” he couldn’t finish. Salazar Slytherin wrote this?! he thought. His mind was in turmoil. I can’t possibly be the one he’s talking about...

“... Unbelievable,” finished the Weasley twins together. “Honestly, Harry, we know you’re special, but for Salazar Slytherin to write a poem about you? Now that is insane,” added Fred.

“We need to find a copy of Hogwarts, a History,” said Hermione suddenly. “We need the final lines of the poem.”

Ron’s head snapped up. “Not again... Please don’t make us read it...” he muttered groggily, looking pleadingly at Hermione, who couldn’t help chuckling.

“We also need to know who has the poem now. If it still exists,” Harry said quietly.

“And what will we do with that information, Harry?” asked Kingsley. “I’m afraid we’re going in circles here. Yes, now we know that Harry is the one in this poem, and that we need the final lines of it, but how has that helped us in our original purpose? What Harry’s vision meant?” Kingsley said, bringing the meeting back to its purpose.

“I think that’s quite clear now, isn’t it?” asked a brisk voice, and everyone turned to see a down-to-business Tonks looking around eagerly, looking as if she had completely understood everything for once. “The final lines of the poem elaborate more on the topic of visions, Slytherin wouldn’t just leave off there if he was a true Seer. Yes, Hermione’s right, all we can do now is find the final lines and research some more on that tale that you were telling, Kingsley.”

The Order nodded at her words, and McGonagall stood up. “Then this meeting is over. Harry, Ron, and Hermione will come back to Hogwarts with me to see what we can find out. Be ready for another meeting soon.” With that, the four of them stood and left the kitchen.

***

Harry and Ron practically ran to keep up with Hermione in her eagerness to get to the library. Their footsteps echoed throughout the halls, and they hurried to get to the warmth of the library. Hermione muttered a greeting to Madam Pince, who was cleaning some bookshelves, before automatically turning down a certain isle and walking briskly to the end. There, she turned to the left and led them along a few more choice shelves before coming to rest in front of a regular bookshelf. She pulled the hugest book that Harry and Ron had ever seen from its shelf and set it lovingly down on the nearest table. Then she sat down, the boys sitting on either side of her. She opened the book and carefully separated the old pages to find the very first one. There it was. Hermione smiled slightly as she traced her fingers along the fancy O that started the poem. Her fingers slipped down. The ink became increasingly hard to read, faded and blotched, but as she reached the final line, disappointment was etched across her face. “That can’t be it...” she whispered to herself.

“How can you read that?” asked Ron in amazement, still trying to make out the first word.

“Sh,” snapped Hermione. “I’m trying to concentrate...” She traced her fingers along the last line, reading and rereading its fancy script. There was nothing. She looked in the space below, where the rest of the poem should have been. Nothing. Wait... The faintest trace of a delicately curved T, the harder lines of an I... Excitement surged through her as her keen eyes searched for more. Gradually she could see that there were two more lines, but she could not make anything out. It was too pale and faded. After several minutes, she shut the book, frustrated. She replaced it on its shelf and grabbed another copy, finding the same situation. She pulled down book after book, but all of them had the same faded out lines. Her frustration winning over her, she collapsed at the table angrily. “It’s there!” she fumed. “I saw it! But it’s just too faded out!”

“Hermione...” Ron said, putting a hand on her shoulder. She turned to face him. “I don’t know if you noticed, but they all looked the same. As if... as if someone wanted the lines to be unreadable. That wasn’t natural fading, it was supposed to happen. And –“

“I’m going to Dumbledore’s office,” Harry said, not noticing what Ron had been saying.

“What?” asked Ron.

“Dumbledore’s,” Harry repeated, turning and vanishing around the corner.

“What was that all about?” Ron muttered, confused.

“No idea...” muttered Hermione. “I don’t understand anything anymore...”

***

Harry left the library quickly, almost running toward Dumbledore’s. He had only just remembered McGonagall telling him that he had to go there. Somehow it felt urgent all of a sudden, and Harry skidded to a stop beside the gargoyle out of breath. He was about to open his mouth to say the password when he realized that he had no idea what it was.

The gargoyle seemed to look at him for a moment, then it jumped aside, saying in a low, rumbling voice, “Professor Dumbledore is eager to speak with you, Harry Potter.”

Harry stepped onto the spiral staircase, thoroughly confused. Dumbledore had died! There was no way he could speak to Harry! Harry stepped off the stairs and knocked on the door, feeling extremely foolish.“Come in,” said Dumbledore’s cheerful voice. Harry gasped and stepped back, alarmed. But Dumbledore was dead! Nevertheless, he tentatively pushed the door open, almost scared of what he might find...The office was empty. Totally empty. Not even Fawkes the phoenix was there. Bewildered, Harry looked around.

“Over here,” came Dumbledore’s voice, hiding a chuckle. Harry turned wildly and found himself facing the desk, on which several pieces of paper were laying. He frowned, looking around. And there, right above the desk, was a portrait of Dumbledore that now smiled merrily at him. “Hello, Harry. Might I inquire as to why you have kept me waiting so long?”

“M-McGonagall just told me to visit you a few hours ago, but then we had to have a meeting with the Order. Because my scar hurt again.”

Strangely enough, Harry thought he saw a hint of triumph pass over the headmaster’s face. “I thought this would happen soon. Perhaps this visit will help you. On my desk is a paper on top of all the others. Petunia and Vernon Dursley sent it to me the minute you arrived on their doorstep, saying it had been wrapped up inside the blanket that was around you. I feel that this is the time to show you. Apparently, your father meant to give it to you.”

Harry turned towards the desk nervously. “Go on,” Dumbledore urged when Harry stopped, uncertain. He approached the desk and picked up the top paper, a piece of parchment so old and worn he could have sworn that it was hundreds of years old.

As he read the handwritten words, shock and fear coursed through him. It was Salazar Slytherin’s poem.

One dark lord, and a boy yet so young
locked in a war for years to come.
A scar received so long ago,
none before have been just so.
A transfer of powers, the dark lord’s bane
has been revealed: a boy seemingly plain.
But the boy has powers the dark lord knows not,
with terror and sorrow his future is wrought.
The ones he holds dearest will die by his side,
one will be driven for his safety to hide.
The scar on his forehead, like lightning is its glow,
it links to the dark lord, his thoughts does it show.
This link cannot be broken, it will always remain,
it is only this that keeps them both sane.


Chapter 9: Monica Gould
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. Jenna and Ellie Gould are mine though. Credit for Ginny’s name goes to Cara Nicole Luvitz. Thank you so much for all the positive reviews I’ve gotten, I love you guys to death!! ...Was this update fast enough for you guys?

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Chapter 9: Monica Gould


Kingsley came home from the meeting and hastened up the stairs, furious with himself. What had he gotten himself into?! That poem talked about Harry, and the one in hiding was Ginny, that was obvious! Wouldn’t Hermione, at least, realize that? He hurried into the bedroom and found Ginny sleeping peacefully, curled up like a cat under the blankets. No, he thought. He couldn’t reveal her. She had the right to do what she wanted.

***


Ginny woke up the next morning, uncertain where she was or how she’d gotten there. Gradually she remembered everything that had happened up until then, and she stretched tiredly. What would Kingsley and Jenna do with her now? She got up and ambled down the stairs, coming into the kitchen to find Jenna cooking breakfast. “Good morning, Jenna,” she said, sitting down at the counter. “Can I help you with anything?”

Jenna looked up from the bacon she was frying and smiled at her. “No, that’s all right. I was just about to wake you. Kingsley’s at work and Ellie’s still asleep,” she added in response to Ginny’s questioning glance.

There was a silence except for the sizzling of the bacon. Jenna quickly made some scrambled eggs and set them down in front of Ginny along with the bacon and a hot cup of tea. “Thank you,” said Ginny.

“You’re welcome.” They ate in silence. Ginny wondered vaguely where she’d go from here when Jenna turned to her. “Kingsley told me he wouldn’t turn you in. You’re safe with us, and if it makes you feel any better, we’ll disguise you and send you back to the Order as my daughter,” Jenna told her.

For a moment Ginny was uncertain, but then she understood that it was her only chance. She felt a smile spreading across her face as she fell into the woman’s arms, grateful. “Thank you,” she whispered.

***


An hour later, Ginny found herself sitting in a spacious bathroom wrapped in a black cloak as Jenna applied various charms to her hair. Small sections of it floated down around her, and she cringed with every movement at the pain that shot through her scalp. Her hair had never been this tangled!

She fixedly stared at the white polished toilet as Jenna waved her wand again. Another strand of fiery red hair floated to the ground. “What are you doing, Jenna?” asked Ginny.

“I’m cutting your hair.”

“Why does it hurt so much?”

“I need to get all the knots out. It’s horrible.”

“Oh.” Ginny was silent, except for the occasional gasp of pain. Finally, what felt like hours later, Jenna was done. “Can I see my hair now?” asked Ginny, nervous to see what it looked like.

“Wait a moment...” muttered Jenna, and waved her wand around Ginny’s head carefully, whispering a few words that Ginny couldn’t make out. She felt suddenly lightheaded and wondered what Jenna had done to her. “Don’t worry, I only changed your hair color.”

Ginny turned apprehensively to the mirror. The face was still hers, but the hair... It was dirty blonde, similar to Luna’s. It looked smooth and silky, the part clearly defined and off to the side a bit. There were bangs that fell almost to her eyes. The hair had natural streaks of yellow and brown. Ginny wasn’t sure whether she liked it or not.

She turned back to Jenna, nodding. “This is... good,” she said quietly. “What about my face? They’ll still be able to recognize me.”

Jenna nodded and sat her down on the chair again. “All right...” she looked intensely at Ginny for a moment, then muttered a few spells. Ginny felt strangely like her face was sliding around on her head. Which, she realized, it probably was. She shuddered.

“There...” said Jenna proudly, pulling Ginny toward the mirror again.

Her eyes were no longer brown, but a deep forest green that looked almost black. Her face was longer and thinner, and her lips were fuller. The overall color of her skin was more natural than before. Uncertainly, Ginny nodded again. She did not recognize herself at all. She turned to Jenna and smiled. “I like it.”

Jenna smiled back, but frowned almost immediately. “They’ll recognize your voice...” she said. “What can I do with your voice? Do you know of any spells that change your voice?”

“Umm, no, just one that gives you a slight French accent. I used it for a prank on my brother Bill.”

“Use that, the rest you’ll have to do by yourself,” said Jenna with a nod, starting to vanish the red hair that lay on the ground at their feet.

“Wait...” said Ginny quietly. “Can’t I keep the hair?” It was only just starting to sink in that she was not going to be Ginny Weasley anymore.

Jenna nodded and gathered them up with her wand as Ginny changed her voice and said, “Is this better?”

Jenna straightened up, nodding. “Great! But we’ll have to create the illusion that you’ve been to a school in France or something.”

“Sure, I’ll be your daughter who went to a private school in France and is now coming home to help with the Order!” Ginny added, laughing slightly.

“All right. We’ll have to get you a new wardrobe and name, but that won’t be much of a problem. Do you have any idea for a name?” Jenna asked her.

The smile faded from Ginny’s face. She didn’t want to decide on her own name! “Umm...” she started. “I don’t know...”

“Why don’t we wait for Kingsley to get home? He’ll have an idea. Let’s attack your clothes in the meantime.”

***


Ginny emerged from Jenna’s closet two hours later, carrying a heavy trunk. Since they were both roughly the same size, Jenna decided to let Ginny take whatever clothes she wanted. After that, they would go to the nearest thrift shop to find anything else that Ginny would need. Ginny was dressed in a flowing floral skirt and a soft green blouse that looked great with her new look.

“Right. This is what I have...” Ginny said, opening the trunk for Jenna to see.

Jenna nodded, making a mental list of what they’d need to buy for Ginny. A few minutes later, they left the house for the nearest shop and walked there quickly.

Ginny felt uncomfortable and strange. She was used to jeans and tighter shirts instead of this flowing skirt and loose blouse. She wasn’t sure she liked this new change, but it had to be done. If she still had the same eye for fashion that the old Ginny Weasley had, she’d be discovered too quickly. So a new style was what she needed. Sighing, she followed Jenna into the shop.

***


Kingsley came home, finding the place deserted. Ellie was still at her friend’s house, apparently, and Jenna and Ginny must have gone out for the afternoon. He took his briefcase upstairs and went to the kitchen to have a snack. Ten minutes later, he heard people coming up to the house. He recognized one voice as Jenna’s, but the other was unfamiliar.

Jenna came through the front door with a young girl in her teens, with dirty blonde hair and a bright, flashing smile. He walked out of the kitchen and up to them, realizing it must be Ginny. He greeted them and took a few of their many shopping bags, which they put down in the living room.

“Thanks for doing this for me,” Ginny said gratefully, collapsing on the couch. “I’d never have managed on my own.”

“We’re not done yet, Ginny. What’s your name going to be?” asked Jenna, reminding her of their earlier problem.

“How about Monica?” asked Kingsley, looking back and forth between them. “You look like a Monica.”

Jenna tilted her head as she looked at Ginny, then nodded. “Monica Gould,” she said.

“Monica Gould...” repeated Ginny, twirling her new wand between her fingers.

***


It took Kingsley and Jenna nearly an hour to convince Ginny to leave the house. “We have a meeting with the Order soon, you must come!” Jenna said firmly.

“I only called everyone to introduce you!” Kingsley added. “They all need to be there, and you need to give a convincing history and pass the test to join us. You can’t back out now.”

They argued for another while, but finally Ginny was forced to give in. She kept trying to think of herself as Monica Gould, but she couldn’t. Not yet.

“Fine, I’ll go,” she finally said with a sigh. They Apparated into the park near Grimmauld Place and walked towards the headquarters in silence, Ginny glaring determinedly away from the house that they were approaching. “When’s everyone coming?” she asked.

“In fifteen or so minutes. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and McGonagall should already be there.”

“What!” she practically yelled, alarmed. A stone seemed to have dropped in her stomach, and she felt suddenly lightheaded. “I – I don’t feel so good...” she muttered suddenly. Harry was going to be there! All the more reason not to go!

“You’re just nervous. It’ll be okay... Monica,” Jenna said comfortingly as they approached the seemingly nonexistent house.

Ginny shot her an angry glare, then followed them inside. It was exactly as she remembered, dark and dreary with the smell of decay, only slightly reduced. It did look a little cleaner than the last time she’d been there, and the stairs seemed to be in better shape as well. She followed Kingsley and Jenna into the kitchen, not joining in their cheerful greetings. Ginny looked up and stopped dead at the door.

Harry was staring right at her.


Chapter 10: "First" Impressions
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though.

Thank you for all your support, it’s what keeps this story going! And Happy Holidays!

Also, I had this one chapter written up but it was so insanely long that I decided to split it into two smaller chapters. Here is part one.

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Chapter 10: "First" Impressions




She froze. A single thought coursed through her head over and over again. Harry is looking at me. Harry is looking at me. Harry is looking at me! Harry is looking at me! Jenna suddenly nudged her and Ginny remembered where she was. She shot Harry an uncertain smile, which he didn’t return, and she looked around the rest of the kitchen.

Hermione and Ron were sitting close together, watching the newcomers. Ron’s hair looked a little longer than the last time Ginny had seen him, and he looked less cheerful. Hermione was paler than usual and she had a large book clutched tightly to her chest as if it would comfort her. Harry himself looked more stressed than either of them – there were dark circles around his eyes as if he barely slept and he looked somehow as if he’d lost the ability to smile. Ginny was shocked at this sudden change in them. She started to say hello and asked what was wrong when she remembered that she wasn’t Ginny Weasley anymore. Ginny Weasley was dead.

And that’s why they all looked at her with sad, almost pained expressions. She felt exposed, as if they could tell what she’d done, and that Monica Gould didn’t exist. But she knew it was impossible. Following Jenna and Kingsley to the table, she sat down in the same chair that she always sat in, which was beside Harry. He glared at her, eyes flashing, and she realized it must be some sacred place of honor now. She pretended that she hadn’t noticed.

“This is my daughter Monica,” said Jenna, breaking the uncomfortable silence. She gestured toward Ginny and Ginny raised a hand in a casual little hello-how-are-you wave. Ron and Hermione nodded at her while Harry just glared. How had she made such a bad impression to start off with, just by sitting down in a chair?

She saw Hermione nudge Harry, an annoyed look on her face. Apparently she too thought he was being rather rude. “Um, can you please sit somewhere else?” asked Ron quietly.

Ginny faked a slightly curious expression but left the chair for another farther down the table anyway. The trio left his words unexplained.

Finally the door opened again and Tonks and Lupin came in. Tonks grinned at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who smiled back. Ginny felt anger flashing up inside her. They would cheerfully greet Tonks and Lupin, but not her? Lupin led Tonks to two chairs beside Kingsley, making sure she didn’t trip. Ginny couldn’t hide a smile. “Hi Tonks, hi Lupin,” she blurted, forgetting that Monica Gould didn’t know them. The instant the words left her mouth she regretted them. Tonks and Lupin looked at her in surprise.

“This is my daughter Monica,” Jenna explained quickly. “She’s come to join the Order. I told her about all the members beforehand.”

“Hello, Monica,” said Tonks with a friendly smile.

Ginny smiled back tightly, trying hard to think of herself as Monica. But she just couldn’t.

“So, Monica, where did you come from? We’ve never seen you before,” said a voice from the other end of the table. Ginny turned to find Hermione looking at her eagerly. Reluctantly, she met Hermione’s eyes, knowing that she’d never been able to lie to her. Hermione seemed slightly suspicious, as if she knew more than she was letting on...

“I – I was going to a private school in France. Mum decided it would be better for me to come back for this year, because of You-Know-Who and all,” she said quickly, wishing Hermione’s suspicious eyes would leave her face. They didn’t.

“Did you go to Beauxbatons?” asked Ron eagerly, remembering his fourth year and the attractive girls from the French school.

Ginny nodded, tossing her head like she remembered the girls had done.

“And did you come to Hogwarts a few years ago for the Triwizard Tournament?” he asked just as eagerly, earning himself a smack from Hermione.

Ginny shook her head, feigning disappointment. “I didn’t make it. I was outstanding for my year, but too young. I was even better than Fleur Delacour, but I just wasn’t old enough to go,” said Ginny, letting herself get carried away.

“Does Fleur remember you?” asked Hermione, still suspicious.

“No, I don’t think so,” Ginny replied all too quickly, realizing what reputation she’d just invented. She had completely forgotten that Fleur would be at the meeting later on!

After this, more people started coming, including Ginny’s parents and several students she remembered from Hogwarts. She almost jumped up when the Weasley twins arrived, eager to see how they were coming along with their shop. She restrained herself just in time. Finally, everyone was seated and Professor McGonagall stood up. “Good evening, everyone. This meeting today has two purposes – to allow Harry, Ron, and Hermione to explain what they found about Slytherin’s poem and to welcome a new member to the Order. Monica Gould, Jenna and Joseph Gould’s daughter, has come back from France to help with the Order.”

Immediately, questions popped into Ginny’s mind. She smiled at the Order, which was looking at her, as these questions raced through her head. Who was Joseph Gould? She’d assumed Kingsley was her “father,” but apparently he wasn’t. And what was that about Slytherin’s poem? Would it help in the fight against Voldemort? With a jolt she realized that McGonagall was talking again and she brought herself back to the present.

“...Monica will be asked to duel with the most capable members of this Order, then take a written assessment. This duel will take place here in the kitchen, then out in the hall, where you will attempt not to awaken Mrs. Black. After this, you will practice Legilimency and Occlumency against our most accomplished members. The rest of us will observe.”

Ginny nodded. A written assessment would be no problem. Dueling was no horror either, she was sure that she could easily beat anyone here. She was rather successful with nonverbal spells as well, but she had absolutely no experience when it came to Legilimency and Occlumency. That was probably what it was designed to test – how well you responded to the invasion of your mind without any preparations.

“You will first duel Remus Lupin. You must say every spell out loud so we can hear them. Life-threatening curses are, of course, forbidden, and try not to hurt your opponent in any way,” McGonagall said, standing up again. The rest of the Order followed suit and started vanishing chairs. Lupin vanished the table, and everyone except the two of them backed against the walls. Ginny stood near the fireplace, wand out and ready, facing Lupin, who was standing near the door. They bowed to each other, observing proper etiquette.

Lupin struck first, so suddenly that Ginny barely had time to react. She jumped aside, feeling the jinx pass by her ear. She faced Lupin again. He raised his wand again and she automatically created a shield charm. His spell didn’t come. Realising that he’d faked, Ginny waited. It was impossible for a spell to pass through the shield charm, whether it would go in or out. The moment it faded away, Lupin attacked. Ginny cried out, “Protego!” but she wasn’t fast enough. As she doubled over with giggles, Lupin took advantage of her weakness and waved his wand again. Her legs slipped on the ground and she slid on the stone floor. Her wand flew out of her hand and she scrambled after it. Snapping her wrist back, she called “Rictusempra!” He had decided to let her recover, which was a mistake for him. Ginny’s jet of silver light hit him before he had a chance to react and he started laughing. She jinxed him again, and again, until he was fully under her control. Then she looked around the room, smiling confidently. The moment she stopped paying attention, Lupin gained control of himself, and hissed “Petrificus Totalus!” Ginny felt her limbs snapping to her body and she toppled over, feeling her face turn as red as her hair had once been. “You’re a bit overconfident, Monica,” he told her, standing up and removing the spell from her. She got up, ignoring his offered hand, and sighed. “Sorry,” she muttered, embarrassed.

She looked up at McGonagall, who was walking forward. “Good job, both of you. Monica, you have a great talent and quick reactions. Good job. Just do not turn away before your opponent is unable to do anything, unconscious, or in the worst cases, dead.”

Ginny nodded, still embarrassed at her stupid mistake. “Who am I to duel now?” she asked, eager to prove herself successfully.

“Hermione Granger will test you in nonverbal spells. Outside in the hall, please.”

She nodded, remembering how difficult it was to duel Hermione and win. A strange nervousness filled her, and she glanced in Harry’s general direction. He was watching her, an unsettled expression on his face. He seemed to be debating with himself over something. Determined not to make a fool of herself again, she tossed her head and started toward the door confidently.

She followed Hermione outside, and they bowed to each other. They stood facing each other, Hermione’s eyes suspiciously darting between Ginny’s eyes and Ginny’s wand. Ginny held her composure, calm and relaxed. For a moment they stood frozen, watching each other. Then Ginny saw Hermione’s wand dart back half a centimeter. Ginny conjured a shield around herself silently. Hermione’s silver spell was deflected. Ginny attacked, sending a silent tickling charm and Hermione, which she easily sidestepped. Hermione raised her wand and her next jinx traveled too fast for Ginny to react in time. It hit her in the side and she doubled over, gasping. There was a sudden cramp in her side where Hermione’s spell had hit. It wasn’t serious and would pass within a few minutes. Unlike Lupin, Hermione attacked while Ginny was trying to recover, showing no mercy. A wave of sleepiness burst over her and she wanted nothing more than to lie down and go to sleep. The cramp passed and she managed to dodge another hex, though it was a close miss. She took aim and fired the same jinx back at Hermione, but it missed by several feet. Hermione smiled a twisted smile, knowing her spell had succeeded. There was a grim pleasure in her eyes. Ginny felt like her arm was holding up a thousand weights as she tried to jinx Hermione. Hermione deflected it easily, causing it to fly back at Ginny. This time Ginny reacted in time and sent it careening off into the ceiling. Not watching where it was going, Hermione aimed to jinx Ginny again. But the hex deflected off the ceiling and hit her head, causing her to pause with surprise. It was the tickling charm. Unfortunately for Ginny, Hermione wasn’t ticklish and only sent another hex. Ginny, her exhaustion gone by now, deflected it and jinxed Hermione violently, sending three hexes in a row with barely any breaks in between. They struck their mark in rapid succession, and Hermione doubled over. Ginny, standing again by now, showed her no mercy as Hermione had shown her none, and cast a final freezing charm on her. She watched Hermione for a moment longer, making sure she wouldn’t recover like Lupin had. Hermione flicked her eyes at McGonagall, obviously telling Ginny to end the duel.

Ginny turned to McGonagall, who nodded at her. She turned back to Hermione and lifted the four spells. Hermione accepted her hand up rather reluctantly.

***




Harry stood watching, his eyes narrowed and frowning. He watched the girl, Monica, help Hermione up with such confidence and grace that he’d only ever seen in one person – Ginny. Monica dueled like Ginny, too. The grace of a cat was ever present as Monica dodged the spells sent at her, and her face showed concentration and pain much like Ginny’s had. They were so alike, Monica and Ginny... He heard McGonagall talking and brought himself back to the present. She was saying that Harry would now test Monica on Occlumency. He stepped forward, taking out his wand. Whatever secrets Monica had would be revealed now.


Chapter 11: Occlumency
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though. Also, I was too lazy to read up on Occlumency so I just used what I remembered, so it may not be completely accurate. I also just read Eragon and I think I might have based it a bit on that too.

Thanks for all your support and Happy New Year!!

This is part two of that mega-long chapter.

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Chapter 11: Occlumency


Hermione smiled at Ginny, though suspicion still remained in her eyes. “You remind me of someone I once knew...” said Hermione quietly. “Her name was Ginny. She was the Ron’s sister, Harry’s girlfriend. It’s why everyone here is so subdued. She died almost a month ago, in the lake at Hogwarts. You fight a bit like her.”

Ginny hid her shock behind a blank face. Was it really so obvious?! Didn’t she have any acting talent whatsoever?! Angry at herself, she forced a tear out of her eye for Hermione’s sake and said quietly, “I’m sorry.” Watching Hermione walk away, she resolved to break her old habits and change into an entirely new person.

“Good job, Miss Gould. You have a great talent in dueling. Let us see whether this talent is present in your mind as well. Harry Potter will be testing you now. He will attempt to break into your mind, much like Voldemort or his supporters would. You must attempt to close your mind and avoid this attack, and, if possible, reflect it back onto Harry,” McGonagall informed Ginny. She noticed that McGonagall looked much more stressed than usual and that there was a certain dark note in her voice that Ginny had never heard before.

Harry seemed to disentangle himself from the shadows in the corner of the room. He walked slowly up to Ginny, taking his wand out of his pocket and aiming it at her. Suddenly Ginny realized what he was about to do and she ducked, just in time. His spell whizzed over her head.

He was going to break into her mind! He’d see all her thoughts and feelings and her plan would be ruined! He would see who she really was and Ginny would be back and she’d put them all in danger again. She glanced in Kingsley and Jenna’s direction, and saw them watching, horrified and pale. They knew what was about to happen, too. Ginny turned back to Harry to find him watching her curiously, eyebrows raised.

“What was that all about?” he asked suspiciously, wand still raised.

“Sorry...” muttered Ginny. “I wasn’t ready. Okay, you can go now.” She could sense Kingsley and Jenna behind her, holding their breaths and watching in disbelief. Ginny took a deep, calming breath. No, he will not break into my mind... she thought firmly.

Legilimens!” cried Harry.

Ginny immediately felt memories teeming inside her mind, threatening to reveal themselves. She clenched her teeth, her hands forming fists. Carefully she built up a barrier around her mind, keeping her thoughts to herself. Harry tried again, with renewed energy, forcing the barriers down. Ginny felt her thoughts tipping toward him, but she forced them back. Shooting the barrier back up again, she tried to keep it from moving. Holding it up quickly started using up her energy, and Harry didn’t give up his search. He pushed hard against the wall, trying to break it, but Ginny was strong. No matter what he did, he could not get into her mind. Finally he stopped the spell. Ginny felt a wave of exhaustion come over her and she fell back, barely managing to stay upright. Harry attacked again, casting Legilimens before she could react.

Her long red hair was drifting to the floor around her... She was flying across the Quidditch pitch, the Quaffle under her arm, watching Harry zoom above her... Hermione was glaring suspiciously at her... Ginny fought to regain control as she saw Fleur Delacour stand up from the midst of the Beauxbatons girls... The barrier seemed out of her reach, but she searched for anything that would stop Harry. The Hogwarts lake appeared in front of her, but she forced it away, only to see it replaced by the sight of the merpeople appearing in the brief flash of a wand... A gravestone appeared, but the name was blurred. Horrified, Ginny pushed the image away, pushed her memories away, forced them into a small compartment in her mind which she locked. She hid her thoughts protectively, furiously fighting Harry’s searching, and finally exhausting him.

Once again Harry stopped the spell. This time, he was panting with the effort of searching Ginny’s mind. She looked defiantly back at him, slightly out of breath herself. Knowing that he might attack again, she did not lower her defenses, but kept them up and hid her mind. Harry held her gaze for a few moments, then nodded and walked away. He looked shaken. Her eyes followed him as he took his place beside Ron and Hermione. She wondered anxiously how much he’d seen.

Ginny turned to look at McGonagall, who was smiling. “Congratulations, Miss Gould, you have talent. The only thing left for you is your written test. While you take this, the rest of the Order will proceed with the meeting. Here is the test and a quill,” said McGonagall, conjuring the materials in addition to a desk and chair to work at.

Ginny nodded and sat down, laying the parchment and quill in front of her. The rest of the Order filed back into the kitchen, and the door closed. She could hear voices coming from inside. Sighing, she dipped the quill into the ink bottle and started the test.

***


No, it couldn't be. She couldn't be Ginny. It was impossible. But her memories...! The one with the Quidditch pitch! He was sure that had been him she was looking at! And red hair, floating down to the ground... But the light was odd, maybe it just looked red... That lake had looked suspiciously like the lake at Hogwarts! Fleur standing up could easily have been some random dinner at Beauxbatons, but that girl in the background had looked suspiciously like Cho... But he hadn't seen the color of her robes, so he couldn't be sure of anything. Thoroughly confused, Harry followed the rest of the Order into the kitchen. He chanced a glance back at Monica and saw her looking intently at her test, biting her lip in a way that did not look like Ginny at all.

***


“I’ve found the rest of the poem, as well as who it belongs to,” Harry started out. “What we last had was:

One dark lord, a boy yet so young
locked in a war for years to come.
A scar received so long ago,
none before have been just so.
A transfer of powers, the dark lord’s bane
has been revealed: a boy seemingly plain.
But the boy has powers the dark lord knows not,
with terror and sorrow his future is wrought.
The ones he holds dearest will die by his side,
one will be driven for his safety to hide.
The scar on his forehead, like lightning is its glow,
it links to the dark lord, his thoughts does it show.


Ron, Hermione, and I went to the library at Hogwarts to find Hogwarts, a History, but that’s all that was in the book. The last two lines were faded out. I remembered that McGonagall had told me to visit Dumbledore’s office and I did. Well, his portrait showed me the poem, and told me that it was meant for me, as one of the things my father had left me. That means I am a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, if the tales are true. I don’t know what it means for us as to fighting Voldemort, but it certainly puts a new light onto things. It means that the Chamber of Secrets incident involved Voldemort as Slytherin’s heir, but Voldemort is not directly related to him. Unless, of course, in some crazy way, Voldemort is my grandfather or something, which I highly doubt. I don’t know what this means for us, but we know that the poem has come to me and the final lines are:

This link cannot be broken, it will always remain,
it is only this that keeps them both sane."


There was a long silence as people thought about this new turn of events. Lupin asked suddenly, “May I see the poem?”

Harry shook his head, saying, “I couldn’t take it out of Dumbledore’s office. I don’t know why. It grew horribly hot as soon as I tried to take it out, and nothing would cool it. So I put it back on the desk, where I found it, and left it there.”

“Hmm...” muttered Lupin, thinking.

“We’ll have to check that out,” Kingsley said. “Right now I don’t know what to make of this poem. It’s very strange, and I don’t like it at all. I have a bad feeling about it. I’ll come to Hogwarts as soon as possible to see it, and until then, be extremely careful with it. It could be dangerous.”

“Dangerous?” asked Ron, surprised. “How could it be dangerous? It’s just an old poem.”

“Who knows, maybe it’s a Horcrux or something similar?” Hermione said.

“As long as we know so little, anything’s possible,” Tonks added briskly, demonstrating her knack for wrapping things up. “I think we should just run some tests over that poem and then discuss it again once we know more.”

“Wait...” Arthur Weasley said suddenly. “This link cannot be broken, it will always remain, it is only this that keeps them both sane. Harry, that explains why your Occlumency did not work and why you heard Him talking. The link between you and Voldemort will always exist, so it’s no use trying to stop it.”

Harry thought about this for a moment, then sighed. “I guess you’re right. But what about the keeps them both sane part? I don’t understand that.”

“I don’t think it means that you’ll go insane without Voldemort,” said Hermione. “I mean, you’d feel weird and out of place without having to worry about him, but I think this link has come to be part of you as much as, say, your head. If you killed Voldemort, it would be like losing your head.”

“I would die if that happened,” said Harry, raising an eyebrow at Hermione. Several members of the Order suppressed smiles.

“Well, no, that was a bad example. It would be like losing part of your memories. There would be something missing, you know?” she explained.

“So I defeat Voldemort, and realize that I don’t remember what the Dursleys are like? That would be great!” Harry replied with a grin, causing several chuckles. Hermione laughed, and Ron joined them. Soon the entire Order was laughing. Harry knew what Hermione really meant, but he was sick of this seriousness. He needed to lighten everyone up once in a while. And, realizing how great it felt to laugh, he let go of all his worries for a few minutes. He laughed until he felt tears pouring down his face and he stopped, to see the rest of the Order laughing, like him, because it was such a nice relief from their current stress.

He was the only one who noticed the door open. Monica Gould came in, tucking her long blonde hair behind her ear and holding the test. She looked faintly surprised at the laughing Order. Harry suddenly felt incredibly sorry for how rude he’d been earlier, glaring at her just because she sat in Ginny’s seat. How should she know, anyway? He pushed what he’d seen of her memories away. He caught her eye and smiled at her. She looked back at him for a moment before smiling uncertainly back.


Chapter 12: Second Impressions and Ginny's Obsessions
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though.

I just noticed that I made some sort of mistake somewhere along the way. So that you don’t have to go back and reread everything, I’ll just make it clear now: Kingsley Shackelbolt is Jenna Gould’s brother. I might have said something different earlier, but it was a mistake, and this is just for clarification. Joseph is Jenna’s husband, and when he’s away, she stays with her brother.

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Chapter 12: Second Impressions and Ginny’s Obsessions


Ginny finished the test and put the quill down. What was she supposed to do now? Go into the kitchen and give it back, or wait out here? She decided to slip in quietly, and give it to Kingsley. Getting up, she vanished the desk and chair. Her long hair swung in front of her face and she pushed it back before approaching the door. Quietly she opened it and looked in surprise at the Order, which was laughing as if it hadn’t laughed in years. She pushed her hair behind her ears and looked around the room, looking for someone to give the test to. Suddenly her eyes found Harry’s. He held her gaze for a moment, then, to Ginny’s surprise, he smiled at her. She had to fight the desire to rush at him, and made herself smile uncertainly back.

***


Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed Monica, Kingsley, and Jenna out of the house and into the dark night. Professor McGonagall had given them permission to leave Hogwarts for the weekend and stay at Kingsley’s house. The trio wanted to get to know Monica better. So they silently followed the three along the driveway and into the park, where Kingsley turned to them. “We’re going to be Apparating to my house. Do all of you know how to Apparate?” he asked.

Hermione nodded for the three of them, and they followed Kingsley and the others to the house. Harry watched Monica curiously. Now that he had gotten over his initial displeasure at being reminded so much of Ginny, he noticed that she did seem quite a bit different from his former girlfriend. Not only was her appearance totally different, but her sense of dress as well. Ginny wouldn’t have been caught dead in that kind of blouse, he realized. She had hated those loose clothes. She walked differently from Ginny, too. Ginny had had a sense of confidence, and you could tell from her face that she was sure of herself. Monica looked uncertain and a bit lost, as if she didn’t quite know what she was doing. He realized that the similarities must have just been his mind playing tricks on him because of his despair at loosing Ginny. He forced back a rising lump in his throat at thinking of her.

He put his thoughts from his mind and tuned into the conversation. Kingsley was talking to them. “Jenna and I are going to the airport to pick up Joseph. We’ll be back late and you four should get to bed soon. Ellie is spending the night with a friend, she’ll be back tomorrow,” he added to Monica, who smiled. Harry wondered who Ellie was.

Jenna and Kingsley left a few minutes later, and Harry followed the others into a kitchen. Ron collapsed into a chair and was watching with mild interest as Hermione and Monica bustled around, cooking some soup. Harry sat beside Ron. Hermione was asking Monica about France and Beauxbatons.

“Well, my parents sent me there to study because they wanted me to learn French,” she said. “That’s what they said, at least. I know they wanted to keep me away from here, though. With Voldemort and everything. They thought he’d leave France alone.”

“But didn’t you go there since before he came back?” Ron asked suddenly.

“Yes, because Mum and Dad knew about the prophecy. I’m pretty sure they knew he’d return eventually and they didn’t want me there. I’m sure Ellie would have ended up there as well, seeing as we have relatives there.”

“So why’d you come back?” Harry asked.

“I made Mum and Dad let me. I missed them and Ellie and I wanted to help fight. I mean, why sit around in France with nothing happening while your parents and little sister are fighting? Besides, I wanted to be where everything was happening for once,” Monica replied, separating the soup into four bowls.

“Did it have anything to do with wanting to meet the Boy Who Lived who is now also the Chosen One?” said Ron with a sly grin, taking his soup eagerly from Hermione.

Monica froze while giving Harry his bowl, looking around at Ron disbelievingly. “What makes you think something like that?!” she asked slightly protectively. Harry took his soup without a word, smirking at Monica’s back.

“I’ve seen those looks you gave Harry, you just wanted to meet him,” Ron said slyly, smirking at Monica as well. She glared at him and stomped to the last bowl, into which she angrily stabbed her spoon. She quickly brought it up to her mouth and yelped. The soup was still extremely hot. As Harry turned to his soup he couldn’t help but notice the faint blush in Monica’s cheeks that had most certainly not come from the soup.

***


No matter what she did, Ginny could not get to sleep that night. She tossed and turned, but all she could think of was what had happened that day. She was in the Order for sure now, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione had explained what happened in the meeting while she’d been taking the test. So Harry was going to have to deal with this connection to Voldemort for the rest of his life... And the poem that Hermione had recited had a line in it that mentioned her, Ginny, in hiding! Why hadn’t they realized it yet? Thoughts whirled through her head and she sighed, deciding sleep was out of reach tonight.

She slipped out from underneath the covers and tiptoed to the doorway, careful not to wake Hermione, who she was sharing the room with. Slipping out into the hall, Ginny closed the door quietly. She sneaked past the guest room, where the boys were sleeping, and tiptoed down the stairs. She pulled a bottle of butterbeer from its shelf in the pantry and popped off the cap. She proceeded to the kitchen, where she tossed the cap into the trash, and looked up at the clock. It was two in the morning. She turned and slipped into the living room. Relaxing into her favorite chair by the window, she pulled at the curtain and looked outside.

The moon was shining brightly and stars were scattered across the dark sky. She noticed that they were not as bright as they’d been at Hogwarts – the area was too populated here and it drowned some of the stars’ beauty. Yet she still recognized a lot of the sky based on what she’d learned in astronomy. Thinking about her day was only starting to annoy her, so she decided to wonder what would happen now.

She would obviously continue living here, but would she go back to Hogwarts for one final year, as Monica Gould? She would help the Order in any way she could, now that she was officially a member, but would she be required to complete her schooling? Or was it already done? She realized that she should have paid more attention when she’d lied to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, because now they thought she’d gone to Beauxatons and once Fleur realized that she hadn’t, she’d be in trouble. Sighing, she shifted on the couch. She laid her head back against the pillow and relaxed into it, looking back outside.

Her eyes flew from the moon to a bright star beside it, to another just below. She started making delicate shapes in her mind, connecting the stars in her own way. She spelled out Harry’s name, and then her own. Shaking her head, she shut out the image. Connecting the stars again, she formed Monica Gould. Next came Hogwarts castle, and then the prophecy that they’d rescued in her fourth year, Harry’s fifth. Small trails of smoke were rising from it. Her eyes began to tire as they flicked from star to star, creating endless patterns and images and names in her mind as she drifted slowly off to sleep.

***


Ron was the first to wake up the next morning. Clumsy and tired, he sat up groggily and promptly fell over to the side. The bed was there to catch him and he groaned. Collapsing back into his pillows exhaustedly, he heard Harry give a loud snore. Ron groaned again, and realized that he was thirsty. Giving up on any fantasies that involved getting more sleep, he pulled himself up forcefully. Disentangling himself from the blanket, he looked around for a clock. Seven thirty. He pushed himself up from the bed and turned towards the door, only to trip over Harry, who was lying on his back across the floor. Ron wondered vaguely how he’d gotten there, as the guest room had two beds. Harry stirred, but didn’t wake up. More carefully, Ron proceeded to the door and cautiously opened it.

He slowly tottered in the general direction of the kitchen, but managed to get lost, being as tired as he was. He ended up in the living room and saw Monica Gould lying back against the couch, fast asleep. The curtain was pulled back and in her hand as if she’d been looking outside. He half-giggled and turned around again, finally seeing the kitchen. He splashed himself with water and immediately felt more awake. Within two minutes, though, he felt as tired as he’d just been. With a glass of water he sank into the armchair beside Monica and took a deep sip. For a moment he watched her sleep, seeing a tiny trail of drool making its way down her chin. This time he couldn’t help it, he laughed. Monica sat up with a jerk and brought her hand to her face, as if to conceal herself.

“Oh, it’s you…” she muttered.

“Were you expecting someone else? …Harry, maybe?” Ron asked slyly, eyes glinting.

“Oh, shut up, Ronald,” she snapped, wiping her sleeve across her face and stretching.

Something about the way she did it seemed somewhat familiar to Ron, but he couldn’t place the feeling. Dismissing it, he leaned back against his chair.

“So…” Monica said quietly. “What time is it? Shouldn’t you be asleep?”

“Seven thirty,” replied Ron with a yawn. There was a short silence, which Ron broke after a few minutes. “So how long were you in France?”

“Since I was Ellie’s age. Around five,” she added. “It’s good to be back…”

“So you’ve never seen Hogwarts?” Ron asked her.

She tilted her head to the side, as if considering how to answer. “Well, I did once, during vacation Dad took me. I was a lot younger, so I don’t remember much of it. It’s a huge castle, isn’t it? Fleur was talking about how wonderful it was.”

“Yeah. What’s Beauxbatons like? Fleur’s obviously told us a bit, but not all that much…”

“How do you know her?” asked Monica. She seemed surprised.

“Nobody told you? She and my brother Bill are engaged.”

She seemed to be holding back a laugh. “So how many brothers do you have?” she asked. “I know you’ve got Bill, and Hermione said something about a… nevermind.” She looked away, pausing. Ron realized that she was talking about Ginny. “I’m so sorry…” Monica muttered.

“It’s all right,” Ron replied shortly. “There’s the twins, Fred and George. They’re the pranksters, they’ve even got a shop. We’ll take you there sometime. And there’s Charlie, who’ll be back from Romania soon. He works with dragons. And Percy, who is a… an idiot and decided to walk out on us.” Monica listened with interest, smiling slightly.

“I’d love to meet your family,” she said. “But I have a question. Um… I’m sorry, but, not to be rude or anything, but what’s going on between you and Hermione?” she asked.

Ron stared at her in surprise. Between him and Hermione?! “I…” he tried to talk, but he seemed to have lost his voice. Somehow he was more aware than normal of his pounding heart. He tried again. “I… nothing!” he cried indignantly.

Monica was smirking. “I advise you to stop fooling yourself and go after her. I’m speaking from experience when I say this – if you don’t admit it now, some other guy will get her.”

Ron shook his head, annoyed. How many times had he had this conversation with Harry and Ginny?! “You don’t understand! I don’t like her like that! And please, please don’t talk to me about that kind of thing!” he snapped.

Monica’s eyebrows flew up, but she said slowly, “If you say so. But you’re right, I shouldn’t be asking you about that sort of thing. I hardly know you.” She grabbed a butterbeer that was standing on the ground and took a drink from it.

Ron watched her for a bit before an idea came to him. A mischievous glint came to his eyes as he smirked. “You told me to go after Hermione if I liked her… So why aren’t you following your own advice and going after Harry?”

Monica sighed, slammed down her butterbeer violently, and turned to face him. “I’m tired of this. My affections for Harry are nothing more than sisterly. I don’t know why you keep thinking otherwise. I have… someone else.”

***


The lie was totally unexpected, and as soon as she felt it slip past her lips she regretted it. Someone else? her brain snapped at her. Someone else? Nice, Weasley. The conversation had been going pleasantly enough, she hadn’t had to make anything up. And now she had another lie to keep up with. Just great.

“Someone else?” Ron asked, surprised. “In Beauxbatons? Who is he?”

“None of your business,” snapped Ginny, getting up. “I’m going upstairs to change.” She threw away her empty butterbeer and left Ron sitting by himself in the living room.

Great. Just great. Another lie to remember. A voice in her head groaned.

Yeah, it’ll keep the secret though. It makes Monica more believable. Said another voice, joining the first.

Psh, like a fake boyfriend is so believable.

They don’t know he’s fake.

Still. It’s –

Stupid, I know. Just stop bothering me. I’m Monica Gould, and everything that makes me seem like a normal human being can only help me.

But –

Period.


Chapter 13: Founders and Poems
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though. I checked the HP Lexicon for some of the stuff on the founders, and HBP for information on the Horcruxes, but the rest is purely from my imagination.

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Chapter 13: Founders and Poems


As Ginny trudged up the stairs, now in a thoroughly bad mood, she saw that Jenna and Joseph were still asleep in the master bedroom. She walked lightly up to the door, watching them both for a moment. It was her first look at her ‘father.’ He had light hair, like her own, and she recognized some of her own features on his face. She realized with a smile that Jenna must have used her husband’s features to create Ginny’s. Turning away, she walked slowly back to her room and saw Hermione propped up against her pillows, reading a book. A glance at the cover told her that it was Hogwarts, a History.

“Hi Hermione,” she said quietly, alerting her friend to her presence. She stepped into the room as Hermione turned to look at her.

“Good morning, Monica,” replied Hermione with a smile. “Where were you?”

“I think I fell asleep downstairs when I got something to drink,” Ginny answered.

Hermione nodded and slid a bookmark into the pages of the book. She closed it carefully and put it down on the bedside table. “Can I get the bathroom first?” she asked.

“Sure,” replied Ginny, sitting down on her own bed. Hermione grabbed her clothes and set off towards the bathroom. Ginny picked up Hogwarts, a History. Last night, Harry, Ron, and Hermione had told her about the story of the poem being in the book. She decided to find out more.

Turning to the first page, she saw the poem that Hermione had described. It was faded and extremely hard to read. The bottom lines weren’t even there anymore. She turned to the table of contents and scanned down it. One section was circled in red. It was a subheading entitled Salazar Slytherin underneath the section Hogwarts’ Founders. It was on page 723. Curious, Ginny flipped through the pages, occasionally stopping to look at pictures and read small passages. Finally she arrived at page 723. It was covered with the smallest text that Ginny had ever seen. She had to squint slightly to make it out. She realized that Hermione’s bookmark was marking a page a little farther back, which meant that she had been reading the same thing. Ginny started to read.

Twenty minutes later, she rubbed her eyes, incredulous. Was this really Salazar Slytherin’s story? She was somewhat surprised. The section talked about Slytherin falling in love with a girl who left him with a son and ran off, to be discovered for the first time in years by Rowena Ravenclaw. The girl was wild, somehow, and Ginny thought she sounded somewhat evil. The section also talked about how the founders had met and founded Hogwarts. Ginny wondered what Hermione thought of this. She resumed reading.

Hogwarts and After

Slytherin firmly believed that only Purebloods should be allowed into the school. It was for this reason that the Founders created separate Houses. In the beginning, each taught their own house. But it soon became clear that the students would get an incomplete education, due to the fact that the Founders were not skilled in everything. The year that construction was completed was the year in which the style of teaching changed. It was also the year that Slytherin’s son finished his schooling and decided to become gamekeeper. See Chapter 18 for more on Early Hogwarts.

All went well for many years, though Slytherin continued seeing the black haired woman in his dreams. He did see other things as well, and eventually earned himself the title of a Seer. After many years of successful teaching, arguments broke out among the founders. One involved Muggleborns. This argument reached a point where Slytherin began threatening Gryffindor if his ideas were not accepted. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, knowing that the school was falling apart, placed restricting spells on Slytherin. Angered by this, he left the school. To make sure that he would not be forgotten and that his ways would be put into effect, he created a chamber in the castle called the Chamber of Secrets. See Chapter 37 for more information. Before he left, he also wrote a poem, which is printed in the front of this book. He based it on a vision, but no one knows if he actually had this vision or made it up. It was meant to fool the other founders into calling him back. It did not succeed, and the founders expelled him permanently. Faithful descendants and supporters of Slytherin believe that the poem is being passed down through the generations, though no one knows where exactly it is now.

The actual events foretold by the poem happened, in a way. Slytherin did lose those closest to him, namely, the Founders and his son. He did discover the Dark Lord that was rising, and found it to be the young woman that he had once loved. He attempted once more to tame her, but Ravenclaw’s words of so many years ago remained true and he failed. He received many injuries from the battle, and though the woman never truly gained power, neither did he. Soon after, he died in the woods that he had found her in, by the lake that dominated so many of his visions.


Ginny stopped squinting at the page, allowing her eyes to relax. She knew all of this about the poem already, and there was no more information on the topic. It hadn’t helped at all. She groaned, slamming the book shut. Her eyes burned slightly from reading the tiny text. She pulled herself up, wanting to find out what Hermione thought of this. She left the room and knocked on the bathroom door.

“Yes?” said Hermione’s voice from inside.

“It’s Monica. I just read the section on Salazar Slytherin in Hogwarts, a History,” replied Ginny.

The door opened and Hermione came out, fully dressed and applying a drying charm to her hair. “Really?” she asked, leading Ginny back to the bedroom. “I was just about to ask you to. I thought it was quite interesting, actually. We should tell Harry and Ron.”

“We should,” agreed Ginny. She flipped open the book to the pages she’d been reading. Her finger followed along the lines until she found what she was looking for. “What d’you reckon she was?” she asked, her eyes skimming over the section on the black haired girl.

“I dunno, to be honest. I think she was probably a human, but transfigured through spells Slytherin taught her. But about the poem. That was nothing new, was it? We need to see the actual thing to understand it better,” Hermione said, stowing her wand in her pocket. “We should get some breakfast.”

***


Later that day found the four of them walking up the path to Hogwarts, a copy of Hogwarts, a History tucked under Hermione’s arm. Monica was telling the boys what she and Hermione had found out about Slytherin while Hermione muttered several charms and counterjinxes. She was the only one of them who knew the many counterjinxes necessary to let them enter the school. Once they finally made it to the front doors, she had been working for almost ten minutes. Monica, Harry, and Ron waited for her as she redid the numerous enchantments. Then they hurried quickly up the stairs and down the many halls towards Dumbledore’s office. The gargoyle moved aside for them and they proceeded up the spiraling staircase. Harry led the way into the office somewhat nervously. Dumbledore’s portrait over the desk was asleep, so Ron called out to him to wake him up.

“Oh! Good, you’re here,” he said with a smile, looking tired. “And who, may I ask, is this young lady?” he added, nodding at Monica.

“Monica Gould, sir. Kingsley’s sister’s daughter,” Monica replied, smiling uncertainly at Dumbledore.

He nodded again, and before anyone could say anything else, he turned to Harry and said, “That poem. I did not tell you everything about it. There’s something on the back. It might explain a few things,” he said, a strange twinkle in his eyes.

Harry picked up the old paper and turned it over. He frowned, eyes traveling along it quickly. Then comprehension dawned on his face and he slipped around the desk, handing it to Ron. Hermione and Monica leaned over his shoulders to see. There was a line of hastily scribbled writing on the back.

Horcrux #7, Harry Potter

Comprehension seemed to strike Hermione violently. She looked around at the others and saw that they had all come to the same conclusion as her. This was supposed to be a Horcrux, the one Voldemort had been planning to use Harry for. But Harry had escaped, so this couldn’t be a Horcrux… could it? Had Voldemort perhaps, realising at the last moment that Harry wasn’t going to die, used Lily or James as the necessary death? No, it couldn’t be…

She looked up at Harry, confused again. “This makes no sense, though,” he said suddenly, meeting her eyes.

“It can’t be a Horcrux, you didn’t die,” she agreed, frowning. “And how did it get here, then? Harry, you said your father wanted to give it to you…”

“No… it can’t have been that,” Harry said, rereading the line as if it would help him understand. “I don’t know! Why would Voldemort have written that on this poem if my father had it and wanted to give it to… no… I understand it now! It was never my father’s at all!” he cried suddenly, a feverish gleam in his eyes. “It was Voldemort’s! I’m not related to Slytherin, it was his all along!”

“How did you figure that one out?” asked Ron, looking hopelessly confused.

“Don’t you see?” piped up Hermione, suddenly excited. It all made sense now! “This poem was never passed down in Harry’s family, it was in Voldemort’s! He must have gotten it, and, when he heard about the prophecy, thought the two were talking about the same person – Harry. He set out to kill Harry, intending to make the poem his final Horcrux, hence the writing on the back, but he never could. Harry defeated him. The paper must have… fallen out of his pocket or something. It must have somehow gotten wrapped up with Harry when Hagrid picked him up! It was a misunderstanding, then, and this had nothing to do with James or Lily or anyone else.”

For a moment there was silence, then Dumbledore’s portrait spoke up. “As far-fetched as that may seem, I must agree with you, Miss Granger. It makes perfect sense. I fear, however, that this means that we are no closer to anything than when your scar hurt a few days ago, Harry.”

Harry groaned, sitting down at Dumbledore’s desk. “You’re right,” he sighed, leaning his head back. “We haven’t gotten anywhere…”

“Well…” said Monica slowly. She seemed to be understanding exactly what was going on. “So now we know that this isn’t a Horcrux. We do know that it’s supposed to be Voldemort’s but he lost it. He most likely used something different for his last Horcrux, like the snake. But we do know that it’s you that the poem is talking about, and we know a bit about Slytherin’s history.”

“But how is that going to help us?” Ron asked, rubbing his eyes exhaustedly.

“I dunno, Ron, but it will somehow,” said Hermione. “He was Voldemort’s favorite founder and they’re related. That’s got to count for something.”

“Yes,” agreed Harry. “But then… If the poem isn’t a Horcrux, and I’m pretty sure it’s not, why did it get so hot when I tried to take it with me?” he added, frowning.

“I’m afraid that’s my fault,” said Dumbledore with a smile. “Over a year ago, before we left for the necklace, Harry, I feared that I was going to die. I placed several charms on my office. One of them was that anything of importance would get extremely hot when someone tried to remove it. This was to ensure that some records and notes would be left for you to see. It has taken me a while to think through everything that is going on, seeing as I am only a shadow of my former self. I believe that now I have a better understanding of what is going on. That is why I sent for you, Harry.”

Harry stared at him for a moment, then nodded. “That makes sense,” he said. “But in case you don’t know yet, the necklace… it wasn’t a Horcrux at all.”

“I know, Harry,” replied Dumbledore. “Minerva told me. I have another idea about it now, but we will discuss it another time. Right now you should go back to the Order and tell them what you have found.”

Harry nodded, setting the poem back onto the desk, and led the others out of the office. Ron closed the door behind him and hastened to catch up with Harry, who was hurrying down the stairs.

“So the poem’s not a Horcrux,” he stated dully. The idea that there were still at least four of them out there was not exactly comforting.

“Yes,” Harry replied as they passed the gargoyle that guarded the office.

“And we don’t know what he meant when you heard him.”

“No, I think we do,” said Monica uncertainly. Ron looked around at her. “He said… he said that she was dead. Harry, you said that you believed this to be his work. Then he would have just been repeating what his servant told him. But if he wasn’t responsible…”

“He was gloating about it, so I thought that he was responsible,” said Harry. “How would her death benefit him if he hadn’t had some sort of plan for it?”

“Harry, it would benefit him either way. The girl you love died. He can use it against you in so many ways,” said Hermione. Ron saw Monica glance briefly at Harry. She looked somewhat uncomfortable and nervous.

“What do you want me to do, though?” asked Harry. “Hide from him?” he added sarcastically.

“Of course not,” Hermione snapped in reply. “We have a week of school left. A week. That’s not very long, and I don’t think you’ve got anywhere to go afterward, have you?”

“Hermione, do you really think that I wouldn’t let Harry stay with me until he bought his own place?” Ron asked indignantly.

“I’m not staying with you, Ron,” said Harry suddenly, so strongly that Ron was taken aback.

“Why not?!” he cried out, slightly hurt.

“I’ve put you in too much danger already. I can’t stay with you! Voldemort will come barging in and he’ll kill you all!” Harry responded.

“Well, where will you stay then?” Ron replied. “Hermione’s staying with us, so…” he trailed off, uncertain.

“You – you could live with us,” said Monica quietly. “I’m sure Kingsley and Mum and Dad won’t mind, and neither will Ellie. As far as I know, Voldemort doesn’t even know we exist. You’d be much safer.”

Harry looked at her for a moment before nodding. “All right,” he said.

Their conversation had taken them outside, and Hermione began muttering endless counterjinxes once more. Harry turned to glance at Monica and saw her staring ahead determinedly. She seemed to sense his look, because she suddenly turned and caught his eye, giving him a small smile. He smiled back, saying quietly, “Thanks.”

Hermione stopped, glancing at them and frowning slightly. "No, Harry, what I want you to do is forget Ginny. I want you to forget that she ever existed because that's the only way that Voldemort won't still use her to his advantage, even though she's dead. You have to forget her."



Chapter 14: After A Year
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though. The theory about Regulus being RAB is used in here, I guess we’ll see if that’s right come July…

Thanks to my wonderful beta, Broken_Innocence who has looked over this fic for me. Thanks so much!

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Chapter 14: After a Year


The four of them had just gotten to Grimmauld Place when they came across Professor McGonagall and Tonks talking. Tonks immediately greeted them dynamically, and McGonagall asked in a more serious tone what they had found. Harry began explaining.

“…And we found out that Dumbledore had charmed not only the poem, but also all of the files he had on the Horcruxes. He managed to find out that the actual necklace has been destroyed by Sirius’s brother. There is a portrait of Dumbledore here too, near one of Regulus’s. Dumbledore forced the truth out of him. Anyway, this means that there are now three Horcruxes left to destroy. I know Ron, Hermione, and Monica are coming with me back to Dumbledore’s to go through the files again. I hope they’ll help us more than that poem did…”

“And we did find out that Voldemort was planning to use the poem as a Horcrux from Harry’s death,” added Hermione. “It said on the back. Horcrux number seven, Harry Potter. He didn’t ever get to do it, so we think he used the snake instead. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…”

“Well, I guess that’s what you’ll do then, right?” asked Tonks brightly. “Just go back, again, and look at those files?”

“Yeah,” said Ron, nodding. He was obviously a bit tired of the constant going back and forth between Grimmauld Place and Hogwarts.

“Could I come with you, please?” she asked. “I think it might be interesting.”

“Yes, you should. I mean, at least one adult should be there to help us, I think it’s a bit too much to let four teenagers do the job alone,” said Hermione.

Tonks nodded and looked at McGonagall for assent. “It’s a good idea,” said McGonagall. “Just don’t overwork yourselves, you three,” she added to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. “Take a break once in a while.”

“We did, we went to Monica’s for a night,” Harry said. He glanced at Monica to see her staring worriedly off into space, slouching against the wall and looking very much as though she did not want to be seen.

McGonagall glanced in her direction as well, and Harry saw a slightly concerned look come over the Headmistress’s face. “The poor girl,” she said quietly to Harry. “Do try to make her feel welcome, won’t you? Coming back from France to find that she hardly knows anyone here must be extremely difficult for her.”

He nodded. Suddenly a thought crossed his mind. “Oh… Professor?” he asked.

“Yes?”

“I’ve decided to live with the Goulds until I get my own home. School is out in a week and I don’t have anywhere else to go. I don’t want to put the Weasleys in danger and I couldn’t stand living here.”

McGonagall nodded, turning back to the other three, who had started a lively conversation about Tonks’s hair, which had just turned purple. Harry smiled slightly. It was good to relax once in a while.

Tonks looked up from her conversation with Ron and Hermione just then, turning to Harry. “Could I have a word with you, Harry?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said, nodding at Ron and Hermione to tell them that he would be right back. He followed her away from the others.

“Harry, what do you think of Monica? I talked to Ron and Hermione about her, and they think she’s been a good influence on you since… since, you know. But I want to hear it from you,” she said. There was a concerned look on her face and Harry felt strangely happy all of a sudden. Tonks really cared about how he was getting along without Ginny. It meant more to him than he could ever tell her.

“I… I honestly don’t know. In the beginning she reminded me of – of Ginny, but now… She’s completely different. I hope you’re not thinking that she’ll replace Ginny because no one could ever do that, but she’s been a good friend…” he replied, turning his head away to hide the tears that were threatening to fall. He let out a half-laugh. “Seems as though all the conversations these days evolve around either that stupid poem or Monica.”

Tonks chuckled in agreement and patted him on the back. “You’ll get through it, I know you will,” she replied cheerfully. “Now come on, let’s go check out Dumbledore’s files. This should be really interesting!”

They joined the others and Harry, Ron, and Hermione proceeded towards the door. Tonks, McGonagall, and Monica followed not far behind. Once they were outside, Monica stopped and put her hand out to steady herself.

“You go on,” she said when Hermione turned back to support her. “I think I’ll go home. I’m not feeling so good.”

“Are you sure?” Hermione asked, concern clear in her voice.

Monica nodded, forcing a smile. “Go on.”

The five of them waved at her and Disapparated. Finally alone, Monica sat down in the grass in front of Grimmauld Place. It was old and rough, but she didn’t care. Laying back, she looked up at the sky. The dark night sky was once again decorated with millions of stars, looking tiny from so far away. Ghostly white figures drifted slowly across. She saw shapes in the clouds, patterns in the stars. Relaxing into the ground, she let herself float up into the sky with them.

***


Monica woke up to the prickling feeling of grass stabbing into her back. She groaned and turned over, opening her eyes reluctantly. Her head pounded. It was still dark, and all around her the street was silent. She pulled herself up and brushed the grass away, smoothing down her shirt. She leaned against the house for a minute, then turned and Apparated to the most secluded spot in the Goulds’ front yard. Monica started up the drive and knocked, knowing that she was likely to be hit by some sort of defensive spell the second the door opened at this time of night.

She wasn’t. The door opened and Joseph Gould smiled warmly at her, looking a bit tired. Well, it was probably around two in the morning, she reckoned. “Good evening, Monica,” he said with a smile. She smiled exhaustedly back.

“Fell asleep at Grimmauld Place, don’t feel so good,” she muttered in explanation, stepping inside.

He led her to the kitchen and made some hot tea and soup for her. Within minutes they were deeply in conversation. Half an hour later, Monica trudged up the stairs with a self-refilling cup of tea and Joseph following not far behind, placing several security spells on the house. She set the tea down on her bedside table and changed into a rather large shirt and sweatpants. Huddling under the blanket in the large, warm bed she clicked off the light and went back to sleep, not bothering to think about anything.

***


It had been a year now. She had been Monica Gould for a full year. By now, she didn’t have to think about what to say or do to seem like Monica, or how to react to Harry’s smile. It hardly even brought any feeling to her anymore. She wasn’t Ginny Weasley. Who was the girl that Harry had loved so much, Ron’s little sister, Hermione’s best girl friend? Monica didn’t know her. She had died before Monica had come home from France.

It wasn’t even pretending any more, what she did every day. It was just existing. She existed, as a girl named Monica Gould, a girl with a French accent that nevertheless dwindled as time went by, until it was a voice no one remembered. Ginny’s voice. It was all that still remained of Ginny Weasley. Every other part of her was dead. Dead and gone.

And as time went by, she didn’t think about it any more. There was always a sad ache inside her, which reminded her of everything she had given up. She didn’t even remember what it was now. Not even Kingsley, Joseph, and Jenna seemed to remember Ginny. They only knew Monica, a quiet girl of sixteen who happened to return from France a few days after Ginny Weasley’s funeral.

And after a full year, no one seemed to remember that Ginny had even existed. She was truly dead now. Monica Gould was alive.

***


A chorus of laughter preceded the two of them into the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place. Monica and Harry turned to each other, eyebrows raised. Ever since Ron and Hermione had gotten together two days ago, they never seemed to be able to stop giggling. When the two came in, they were holding hands and Hermione’s head was resting on Ron’s shoulder. Monica couldn’t help making teasing kissing sounds in their direction, which earned her a playful slap in the head from Ron. She pulled a face at his back as Harry asked where the two had been.

“Oh, just…” started Hermione, twirling her hair between her fingers.

“…Talking,” finished Ron with a glowing smile.

Harry shook his head, smiling. “You were supposed to be here a half-hour ago. Honestly, how are we supposed to get anything done with you two never showing up for anything?”

“Sorry,” said Hermione in a rather small voice.

“Well, you can save it for another few hours, can’t you? We have a meeting with the Order in about ten minutes, and we were going to have a small discussion beforehand, but…” muttered Monica, grinning.

“Urgh, stop making me feel so bad,” Ron said, slightly annoyed.

Harry and Monica laughed. Ron and Hermione sat down beside them and Summoned a few bottles of butterbeer, which the four of them distributed around the table.

“So, have you found an apartment to live in or anything, Harry?” asked Hermione.

“No, not really…” he muttered in response. “In truth, I actually like it at the Goulds’… It’s so different from what I’m used to, and even after a year I’m still not used to having a family around me. I don’t really want to move out…” he added, grinning at Monica.

She chuckled, raising an eyebrow. “I thought you said last week that you were annoyed with Mum for making you do the laundry because she was sick?”

“Yeah, well…” Harry muttered, still grinning. “Another reason to stay. I won’t always have to do the laundry.”

They all laughed. There was a knock on the open door and Monica waved the newcomers in, calling a cheerful “Hello!”

Remus and Tonks sat down together and asked how Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s graduation had been. The three of them immediately launched into a long and detailed story, which Monica added to every now and then. A few minutes later, the rest of the Order began arriving.

“Things have been looking up lately,” McGonagall announced to begin the meeting. “We recently found the traitor Severus Snape, and Remus and Moody successfully brought him back here. He is currently imprisoned upstairs, and Moody, I assume, has been forcing information out of him…?”

“Yes,” growled Moody in confirmation. “Not so much progress yet; the slimy hairball’s obviously very informed as to what Voldemort has planned. We’ll get him, though. We just need someone skilled enough to brew the Veritaserum.”

“I’ll do that,” volunteered Harry. “I still have his old Potions book; it had a lot of useful tips. I’ll bet he added a lot to Veritaserum, too.”

“Veritaserum’s not something any 6th year could do, Harry. It’s not going to be in a 6th year Potions book,” Hermione said.

“Oh. Right. Does anyone else want to do it, then?” Harry asked, feeling slightly stupid.

The rest of the Order shifted uncomfortably in their seats. None of them was that good at Potions. “”I’ll try…” muttered Hermione. “It’s not going to be very good, but we can hope for the best.”

The rest of them nodded and Hermione scribbled something in her notebook. “Right,” said McGonagall. “The next thing. We’ve all been rather inactive over the past few weeks. Nothing major has happened, and Voldemort seems to be waiting for us to make a move. I do not think he knows that we have been destroying his Horcruxes. So, we have one more to destroy before Voldemort himself, if we’ve been correct all along. This one, again if we are correct, is the snake Nagini. We don’t exactly know very much about her, except what Harry has told us. It would be unwise to do anything now. We need information. That is all we can do for now. Keep up with your assigned Death Eaters and if possible, collaborate to capture them. Then we can get information from them.”

“About Snape,” said Hermione. “When do you want the Veritaserum?”

“As soon as possible,” growled Moody. “I want to interrogate him tomorrow, if possible. Make it quickly, girl. But it’s a tricky potion – if not brewed correctly, it can become dangerous.”

“I know. I’ll go start on it after the meeting, then,” Hermione replied.

After a few more minutes of discussion, Jenna and Joseph Gould left to pick up Ellie. On the way out, they called to Harry and Monica to be home by ten o’clock. As the Order separated, Ron, Harry, and Monica followed Hermione into the kitchen, where she was setting up a cauldron.

“Ron, go get me that one book from upstairs,” she said, starting a fire underneath the cauldron.

“Yes, Master,” he said sarcastically and left the room. Hermione didn’t seem to notice as she carefully poured some water into the cauldron. Harry and Monica chuckled.

“How’s he supposed to know which book you want, Hermione?” asked Harry.

“What? Oh, I showed him a few weeks ago…”

“Think he’ll remember?” Monica said, raising an eyebrow.

“Bet you a galleon he won’t,” Harry replied, grinning.

Ron came back carrying a rather large, old-looking book. He slammed it down in front of Hermione, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Hope it’s the right one,” he said sweetly. Harry and Monica chuckled.

Hermione opened the cover and smiled. “Thanks, Ron,” she said, scanning down the list.

Monica held out a hand to Harry, grinning. “I want my galleon.”

He pulled a face at her, but reached into his pocket and dumped one in her hand. Ron raised his eyebrows, causing them to disappear into his red hair.

Hermione began pulling ingredients from the cupboards and set to work. The other three watched her, now more serious. They were another step closer to the final Horcrux.

Chapter 15: Prisoner
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though. I did use a line from PoA, which you might recognize. That, obviously, belongs to JKR as well. Thanks again to my wonderful beta, Broken_Innocence.

All right, so I made a mistake last chapter – Veritaserum takes a month to make, not one night. So they’ve been working on the Veritaserum for the past month but the last step is what Hermione’s doing.

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Chapter 15: Prisoner


Hermione spent the entire night working on the last few steps of the potion. Harry had gone back to Hogwarts and found his sixth year copy of Advanced Potion Making, which he had left in the Potions classroom years ago. Along the margins of one of the pages, he found some scribbled instructions for an extra step for Veritaserum that made the potion even stronger. He showed this to Hermione, who was hard at work.

Add three teaspoons of powdered dragon scales after the aconite. The potion appears to stay the same, but it lasts longer this way – ideal for interviews lasting over an hour. Must be Welsh Green scales,” Harry read aloud as Hermione carefully measured out the aconite.

Ron immediately went to the Potions cupboard and searched through it for the dragon scales. “How much again?” he asked.

“Three teaspoons,” Monica replied, reading over the instructions to the Veritaserum.

Ron emerged from the cupboard holding a jar of dark green powder. “This right?” he asked Harry.

Harry nodded looked at the tag and nodded. Ron set the jar down next to Hermione.

“Are you sure this is right?” she asked. “If it’s not, then we’ll have to start the potion over.”

Harry and Ron nodded, but Hermione took the book from Harry’s hands. She read through the scribbled note and glanced back at the recipe. “Okay,” she said. She carefully measured out three teaspoons of the powder and dropped it into the cauldron. It appeared to dissolve and a small spiral of smoke rose. The potion was absolutely clear. They all sniffed carefully. Nothing.

Hermione turned to grin at Harry, Ron, and Monica. “Great! Now, just the stirring and waiting and then we’re done,” she told them, turning back.

“How much of that exactly is there?” Ron asked.

“Well, I’ve got to keep stirring for the next five minutes, then it needs to simmer for half an hour. After that, I need to stop the fire, stir again, and it’s done. Not too much more, maybe an hour,” Hermione explained.

Ron nodded. “I’ll go tell Moody,” he told them, leaving the kitchen.

Hermione nodded vaguely and stirred the potion, a look of intense concentration on her face.

Harry leaned towards Monica and whispered, “Does it really take that much concentration to stir a potion?”

She grinned, enjoying the moment of sitting so close to him. At this thought she felt herself blush and she looked away. What was getting into her? Harry was no more than a brother to her!

Hermione kept stirring for a few more minutes and finally turned back to them, setting a timer for half an hour. She sat down next to Monica, looked around, and asked, “Where did Ron go?”

“He left to go tell Moody you were almost done,” Harry informed her, a hint of laughter in his voice.

“Only you were concentrating so hard on stirring that potion just right that you didn’t notice,” Monica finished, smirking. At this point Ron came back and wrapped an arm around Hermione’s shoulders.

Hermione blushed. “Well, it’s not my fault if I’d like to concentrate on this quite important part of making the potion that could very well lead to us discovering the last Horcrux,” she replied, causing the smiles to drop from her friends’ faces. “This isn’t all fun and games, you know. If I mess up here, the potion might do something unexpected, or not work, or worse yet, kill Snape.”

“And how is that bad?” asked Harry, smirking darkly with a sort of violent hatred in his eyes. “I, for one, would love to see that day.”

“He’s of no use to us dead, is he?” Monica asked, wringing her hands. “Look, I don’t like him any more than you do, but we need him alive.”

“What?” Hermione’s head snapped up. “Since when do you know Snape?” Her heart was suddenly pounding – Monica had never met Snape! She hadn’t even known he’d existed! So why was she suddenly talking about him as if she knew him as well as they did? Unless… unless she wasn’t Monica Gould. What if… what if she was one of Snape’s allies, a Death Eater in disguise, perhaps? The possibilities ran endlessly. Hermione suddenly felt very nervous. What if they’d been working with one of Voldemort’s servants for the past year? Monica could have been passing valuable information to him… Hermione focused back on Monica’s face, waiting suspiciously for an answer.

“I – don’t,” she replied jerkily. “I don’t know him,” she continued, stronger now. “I just assumed – you hate him, everyone here does – so I just thought he wasn’t – er – nice, or anything…” she finished uncertainly.

Hermione watched her suspiciously for a moment, unsure what to think. She glanced at Ron and Harry, but they seemed satisfied with this shaky answer. She looked back at Monica and held her gaze for another few seconds. Then she turned back to the potion and finished the stirring. But the suspicions about Monica had by no means diminished, and she felt rather apprehensive about turning her back on the girl.

***


Later that afternoon, the Order assembled in the kitchen to discuss the questioning for Snape. The cauldron of Veritaserum sat by the wall.

“Moody, the potion’s completely ready. You can take it down to question Snape any time now,” Hermione said.

“Good,” growled Moody. “Remus and I finished setting up the interrogation chamber. Now we need to decide who’s going to be there. We have a table with eight chairs along with the ones on the wall. One of the eight is Snape’s. Who’s going to interrogate him? We know Molly and Arthur are going to take care of the Veritaserum, notes, and security, but we still need seven members to interrogate.”

The next ten minutes were spent deciding who these seven would be. The Order finally came to a decision - Lupin, Moody, McGonagall, Tonks (who wasn’t currently present), Harry, Ron, and Hermione would take up the seven spaces. Once this was settled, McGonagall brought their attention to the fact of what they were going to ask. Hermione began making notes for them, leaving spaces for Snape’s words to be recorded.

Monica sat and watched, nervous. Her mind wasn’t on the meeting; it was on what had happened that morning. She had been much too careless. She’d have to be a lot more careful about Snape in the future – that was the reason why she didn’t want to be present while they interrogated Snape. What if she did something else stupid? Her mind was brought back to the meeting with a snap when her name was mentioned.

“… why not Monica?” It was Lupin, looking at her curiously. Other faces turned towards her as well. What was going on?

“Uh, sorry, Remus, I missed that,” Monica managed to say. They couldn’t suspect her again, could they?

“I was just wondering if you could fill in for Tonks at Snape’s interrogation. She still isn’t here,” he repeated.

“Oh,” she said, relieved. “Well, I’d really rather not – ” She ignored a suspicious look from Hermione and continued, unfazed. “ – because I think Tonks would be a lot better in this field than me, even if she’s gone now.”

Lupin nodded, and at that moment, the kitchen door burst open. Ellie, Joseph and Jenna’s daughter, came running in. She was laughing, and a second later, Tonks followed and grabbed her. “Gotcha!” she cried, tickling the little girl. Ellie screamed with laughter.

Everyone looked at them blankly.

Tonks looked at the clock over the fireplace, astonished. “It’s not time for the meeting already?” she cried, putting Ellie down.

“We started half an hour ago,” said Lupin with a hint of a smile on his face.

“Oh. Sorry about that; I was babysitting Ellie here and she – ”

“Ellie, no!” yelled Monica, but too late – the little girl had dipped her finger into the Veritaserum and licked it eagerly.

Ellie looked around at Monica defiantly. “You can’t tell me what to do, you aren’t even my real big sister!” she cried, and ran to Jenna, who was sitting a little way along the table.

Monica went white. There was an absolute silence, in which the Order glanced from Jenna to Joseph and back again. Then they turned to Monica, and she managed to stutter a few senseless syllables through her pounding heart before Hermione’s voice rang clearly over hers, somewhat shrill and high-pitched.

“I thought so this morning, but this only proves it – you’re not really Monica Gould, are you? I’ve been thinking along these lines for a while now. One of Voldemort’s spies, maybe, disguised as Jenna and Joseph’s daughter? That would make them traitors, too. Makes sense, doesn’t it, when you consider…”

Monica stopped listening at this point. Hermione had taken her wand out and was pointing it steadily at her face, the rest of the Order watching suspiciously. Her heart was pounding madly; she could barely breathe. This was wrong, all wrong! They weren’t supposed to suspect her of being on the Dark side! She’d let Kingsley and Jenna and Joseph down, they were all going to be thrown out of the Order, maybe even killed… Her vision began blurring and a tear rolled down her cheek.

Hermione stood before her, still talking, and snatches of it reached her through her sobs. “…We trusted you… Passed the exam… Didn’t find anything untrustworthy… Lied to all of us… Occlumency…” She barely noticed Jenna and Joseph running towards her, a confused Ellie trailing behind. Suddenly the Order were on their feet and countless wands were pointing at them. She backed into the wall, sensing rather than feeling Ellie take her hand. Her head was spinning. Her eyes helplessly searched the crowd – there – in the back, Kingsley was pushing forward. But before he could do anything, a jet of red light flew from Moody’s wand, throwing her head back against the wall and sending her swirling into darkness.

***


When Monica woke up, she found herself in a strange, dark room. She was lying in a bed, and as she sat up uncertainly, she saw that there were bars all around it. It would be impossible to get out without a wand – and hers was nowhere to be found. Her heart started pounding again, and she slipped off the bed and approached the bars. Her eyes were slowly adjusting to the dark, and she could make out another bed on the other side. She turned and faced the rest of the room – behind her, there was a small window beside an old-looking door. A small ray of moonlight fell across the bed closest to the window. There was someone sitting on it, but the face, framed by long, matted hair, was thrown in shadow. She could just make out a large hooked nose.

A sudden breeze from the window made her shiver, and the man turned to look at her.

It was Snape.

A fresh wave of tears came to her eyes and she glared ferociously at him. He stared contemptuously back for a few seconds before turning back to his bed.

At least now she knew where she was. This was obviously where the Order kept their prisoners. Her fingers reached out to touch the bars – they were cold and rough. There was no door in the cell, only a bed and a tiny space to walk.

She was a prisoner… Imprisoned by her own side. And the other people in the room had to be Jenna, Joseph, Kingsley, and Ellie. It was too much; Monica sank back down onto her bed and wrapped the thin blanket around her, shivering.

Would they feed her Veritaserum too? It had been made for Snape, but now there were the Goulds, Kingsley, and her as well. Would they be questioned? She felt weak and nervous at the thought – they’d be forced to reveal – reveal what, exactly? What did they have to hide? All of them worked safely for the Order, and the Veritaserum would only prove that.

But then she remembered. Hermione was right – she wasn’t Monica Gould. But she wasn’t working for Voldemort, either. That girl that they said had died over a year ago, the one whose grave they’d visited last month, she hadn’t really died, had she? And what was her name? Monica tried to remember. It started with a G, she was sure of that. That’s all she remembered from the gravestone – a beautifully carved G.

She turned over on the hard mattress, trying to remember. Bits and pieces of her memories were starting to come back. The girl had had red hair. She was Ron’s little sister.

The memories that she had buried deep in her mind slowly started to unravel again, after such a long time of being neglected. The girl had been the one to attack all the Muggleborns when the Chamber of Secrets had been opened, not knowing what she was doing. She had loved Harry for years on end. She had gone with him and four others to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius, but he’d died there… and she’d been on the Gryffindor Quidditch team for a while. But then she’d faked her death and now here she was, hoping against hope that she’d still have a chance to explain.

Monica’s head started to pound. All these memories – she was seeing a girl with red hair and freckles, happy brown eyes and a beautiful smile – were her own. The blonde hair, lighter eyes, freckle-less skin – they were not her own, they were fake. It was a mask, and if she took it off, she’d still be that red-haired girl, that Weasley child, the only daughter for generations.

***


“Ginny,” came a voice. “Ginny, wake up.” It was coming from a long ways away – it was quiet and echoing in her mind.

But she woke up. Her eyes fluttered open. She sat up, seeing the room flooded with bright daylight. Her eyes focused on the bars, and the night came back to her. Once again, tears pricked at her eyes, but she forced them back.

“Ginny,” the voice said again.

Her eyes flew open. That was it. That was the girl’s name. Ginny Weasley. That was her name.

She looked up. Jenna was standing behind the bars, one hand desperately holding onto them and the other holding a wide-eyed and fearful Ellie close. “Ginny,” Jenna repeated.

For a moment she could only gape, breathless. It had been over a year since she’d been called by that name. It had been over a year since she’d answered to it. “Yes?” she whispered, half-afraid that someone would overhear, and half-fascinated at the relief she felt.

“I thought you might want to know – they’re questioning Snape right now. After that they’re – they’re going to pull one of us out to talk. I’ve been trying to wake you up for a few minutes now, and you didn’t react to Monica. I – I think it would be best if we just go along with what they want and take the Veritaserum. It’s best if they just know. I dunno if they’ll be willing to accept it, but after yesterday… It’s better if they know the truth now,” she finished.

She watched Jenna for a while, thinking it all over in her mind. She remembered the warm feeling in her stomach that she’d gotten when she’d been called by her real name. She felt her true mother hugging her, smelled the musty, broomstick-y scent that she always associated with Harry, heard her name echoing over and over in her mind: Ginny…Ginny…Ginny…Ginny…

Not knowing why, she laughed. “You’re right,” she told Jenna. “No more pretending. It’s over now.”

Suddenly, Ellie started crying. She held onto the bars holding her back, sobbing. “I’m sorry,” she choked between her sobs. Her mother pulled her back from the bars, cradling the little girl in her arms.

“Shh, Ellie, it’s all right, honey,” Jenna told her quietly, holding her daughter close.

“No!” Ellie cried. “I don’t like these bars! I put us here, didn’t I, Mummy?” she wailed, holding tightly to her mother. “I put us here! I didn’t mean to say it! Mummy, I know I haven’t got a real sister! But – but – I don’t know who Monica is!”

“It’s all right now, Ellie – you’ll see. It’s good that you put us here,” Jenna said softly. “We’ll be all right.”

At that moment, the door beside the window opened loudly. A sentence constructed almost entirely of swear words was just coming to a close. They all turned towards the doorway to find a bright red Ron pushing a smirking Snape into his cell. “Language, Weasley,” he sneered almost lazily. “Or I shall have to – ”

“What, huh?” asked Ron with a sneer of his own. “Can’t give me detention anymore, can you?” Then he cast a few jinxes on the lock and bars of the cell. When he was done, he turned to the rest of them.

“You’re coming with me,” he said coldly, locking eyes with his sister. He unlocked her cell door and led her out by the arm, avoiding looking at her.

“What’re you gonna do to her?” Ellie cried, terrified, tears still streaming down her face.

“Nothing life-threatening,” snapped Ron, looking as though he wished it was. “C’mon, Monica.”

She jerked her arm out of her brother’s grasp. “I can walk by myself, thanks. And it’s Ginny, not Monica.”


Chapter 16: To Believe
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though.

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Chapter 16: To Believe


Ron froze, his hand resting against the door. “What did you say?” he asked, his voice deathly quiet.

Ginny looked around at the Goulds and Kingsley, who were watching, looking both horrified and relieved at the same time.

She turned to face Ron and stood straight. “I said I can walk by myself, Ron,” she told him, trying to calm down her beating heart.

“No, after that,” he snapped, watching her with a guarded expression.

“It’s Ginny, not Monica,” she repeated, looking him straight in the eye.

Ron’s ears reddened and without warning his hand flew out and slapped her across the face. “Don’t you dare insult me about my sister!” he yelled, furious.

Ginny’s eyes watered in pain, and she stared at him, at a loss for words. “Ron, you – ”

“Shut up!” he yelled, his face reddening now too. “Just – just shut up! I don’t care! You pretended to – to be on our side and then you insult me about – about Ginny and – and how dare you!”

She held his furious gaze for a few seconds, then turned to the door and marched out, head held high. What had she expected? Not this, for sure. Had she automatically thought that Ron would believe her? No, said a little voice in the back of her mind. You didn’t think at all.

She sighed, now following her brother along a corridor that looked somewhat like a basement. The tears that had sprung to her eyes when Ron had hit her fell, one by one. This wasn’t how she was supposed to tell them! She’d take the Veritaserum, yes, and then they’d know…

Ron stopped so suddenly that Ginny walked right into him. “Sorry,” she muttered, reaching up to touch her still burning cheek. It felt somewhat warmer than usual.

He ignored her, fumbling with a lock on the door that they were facing. She noticed that his ears were still red. He finally managed to unlock the door, though his hands were shaking violently. He pulled it open and pushed her in, snapping it shut behind her.

Ginny found herself at one end of a long, wooden table. There were three chairs on each side and one on each short end. All but two chairs were occupied. Her eyes traveled around the table, briefly meeting Lupin’s, Moody’s, McGonagall’s, Tonks’s, Hermione’s, and finally Harry’s eyes. They were all watching her with a sort of calm anger. Her heart resumed its frenzied pounding, and she felt her hands start shaking. Since when did they hate her so much?

“Sit down,” said McGonagall shortly, nodding at the chair closest to Ginny.

Ginny sat. Silence. She looked around nervously, trying not to start crying again. They all watched her, as if waiting for her to say something.

Just when she couldn’t take it anymore, the door behind Ginny opened again. She twisted around to look at who was coming in. Kingsley, Joseph, and Jenna holding Ellie entered, followed by Ron who locked the door. Ron motioned the four of them into a few vacant chairs along the wall, which had strangely colored bubbles glowing around them. The instant they sat down, the bubbles contracted into ropes that wrapped around their legs.

Ginny’s hands started shaking. Mrs. Weasley came into the room from a door on the other end, holding five goblets of clear liquid. Mr. Weasley followed her, holding a book and quill. He sat down in a chair against the wall and looked coldly at Ginny. She felt a lump rise in her throat. No one should have to get that kind of a look from their own father! she thought. Her mother set one goblet in front of her and moved towards the Goulds and Kingsley. They took theirs without a fuss, Ellie looking terrified.

“Veritaserum,” said a quiet voice. Ginny looked around to find Hermione watching her. “It makes a person tell the truth. You helped make this potion, Monica. Did you ever think it might be used against you?”

“No,” Ginny replied truthfully. “And it’s still not Monica.” Ron’s face reddened again. She locked her eyes onto his, raised the goblet to her lips, and took a long sip. A most peculiar sensation started spreading through her. She felt a wonderful, warm feeling at the thought of telling the truth. She felt repulsed at the idea of lying, and she was absolutely disgusted with herself for what she had done the past year.

Still holding Ron’s gaze, she felt a small smile spread across her face and finished her sentence. “It’s Ginny.”

He stared back at her, eyes wide in disbelief and shock. The silence was heavy and seemed to stretch forever before Kingsley cleared his throat. Everyone turned to look at him to see him swallow some of the Veritaserum as well.

“What do you mean? What do you mean, about Ginny? Monica… Ginny… they’re… what do you mean?!” Harry demanded angrily.

Kingsley looked at Ginny, who was watching Harry nervously. Her eyes flicked to his and she sighed. Her expression said clearly, go ahead. Her secret was out. Almost afraid, she took her eyes off of Harry as Kingsley started talking to look at everyone else.

Hermione was staring at her with astonishment. Her hand rested in Ron’s and Ginny saw that it was slowly turning purple as Ron squeezed it. She caught Ron’s eyes again and saw that they were filled with tears and hurt. She looked away, fighting a rising lump in her throat. Looking up again she saw Tonks watching her, frowning. Remus was looking at her calmly, seeming somewhat nonplussed. Moody was looking at her with such disbelief and distrust written all over his face that she couldn’t help but let a silent sob escape her. McGonagall was looking at Kingsley, who was explaining Ginny’s story. She didn’t care to listen. Her eyes sought out her parents. Her mother was leaning against her father, tears running down her face. Ginny’s breath caught in her throat. She turned back to Kingsley and saw the pained expression on his face as he talked. Looking back at Harry she realized why. Her heart jolted as she looked into his brilliant green eyes, which now contained no love or friendship for her, but horrible, inescapable anger.

Ginny drew in her breath, shocked. Why was Harry so angry with her?

“You think that I will believe this?” Harry hissed, fists clenched. He rounded on Kingsley again, this time with his wand firmly in his hand. “You think that I will believe that Monica is Ginny? How stupid do you think I am? I loved her! I loved Ginny! I was at her funeral! I saw her, dead! You can’t bring a person back to life! And now you want me to believe this story? I thought I was past the age of silly fairy tales.” And before Ginny or anyone else could stop him, he stormed from the room.

“Ginny…” Kingsley said quietly, uncertainly. There was a hint of nervousness in his voice.

She turned back to face the rest of them, humiliation and shame burning in her cheeks as tears flowed freely from her eyes.

“You lied to us,” came an accusing voice from across the room. “If you’re really Ginny, then you lied to us! Why?”

It was Hermione. She looked more hurt than Ginny had ever seen her.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I did it to keep you safe.”

“What?” asked Ron. “You’re not my sister Ginny. I know Ginny. She wouldn’t have done this.” Hermione placed a hand on his arm, but he ignored her. “My sister Ginny would have stayed with us no matter what. She wouldn’t have left us to keep us safe. Whatever happened in the Chamber – she’d have ignored it. She cared so much for us! She’d never have left us. It was her spirit that kept us sane for so long. She wouldn’t have left willingly, no matter what. She would have cared for us.”

Ginny looked back at her brother for a moment before realising that he was right. Why had she done this? It wasn’t like her! Had she been too blind to see what would really happen… or had she just not wanted to? Her vision blurred as another wave of tears engulfed her and she managed to choke out, “I’m sorry…” before falling into a pair of strong, comforting arms. She looked up and saw her mother, tears running down her face as well. “Mum…” she whispered.

“Ginny… I know my daughter,” she replied, wrapping Ginny in her arms.

As Ginny relaxed against her mother, she heard a soft stream of comforting words flowing from her lips. Through her tears, a slight smile slipped onto her face as she realized that her mother understood.

Mrs. Weasley turned back to the rest of the Order with tears in her eyes a few minutes later, Ginny’s face still buried in her hair. They looked at her expectantly, and she nodded, saying in a strong voice that nevertheless quivered slightly, “It’s her.”

***


Ginny hardly remembered what happened after that. All she was aware of was a wave of confusion. People were arguing madly. After a few minutes, she found herself being dragged from the room to face the rest of the Order. Faces upon blurry faces stared at her in shock and questions and accusations rained down on her head. She clung tightly to her mother, still crying, answering nothing, trying to ignore it all. When she finally came back to her senses, she was sitting in the kitchen with a bottle of butterbeer in front of her. Her mother was setting the table for five people. Looking around, she saw Kingsley, Joseph, and Jenna holding Ellie, who looked like she was about to die of fright.

“What’s going on?” she managed to choke out. Her throat felt strangely dry.

The others looked at her. “We’re about to have dinner,” Jenna answered finally.

“And – and what happened… earlier?” she asked, half afraid and half eager to know.

“Are you sure you don’t want to wait and see?” asked Kingsley nervously. He was fidgeting. He never fidgeted. This wasn’t good.

“Just tell me,” Ginny replied, her voice shaking slightly. Her mouth was dry and she took another sip of butterbeer, her heart pounding painfully. She wished it would relax.

“McGonagall believes us,” Joseph started, “and so do Moody, Remus, and Tonks. Almost everyone else is trying to accept it. They’re – they’re shocked. They know it’s the truth but they can’t accept it yet. It’s too much for them,” he finished.

“Did you tell them everything?” she asked quietly, not sure what to think.

“Yes,” answered Kingsley. “Everything that happened between Bill and Fleur’s wedding and now. They’ll have to accept it sometime.”

“Is – is Ron terribly angry?” Ginny asked nervously.

“He’s in shock. He doesn’t know what to think,” Jenna replied. “You should probably talk to him after dinner.”

She nodded. “And Fred and George? Charlie? Bill?”

“Same,” Joseph said. “Only they’re taking it a bit better. They’re all a bit shocked, but they understand. The twins want you to visit them in the joke shop tomorrow.”

She couldn’t help smiling slightly. “And – and Harry?” she whispered.

Kingsley, Joseph, and Jenna exchanged nervous looks. At that moment, Mrs. Weasley returned with five bowls of soup floating along beside her. She set these down in front of all of them and gave Ginny a warm hug. “Oh, honey,” she whispered sadly in her daughter’s ear. “He’s in a terrible rage. He thinks… well, you’ll see soon enough. But he’ll understand. It may take a while, but he’ll understand.” Then she left, telling them all to eat up.

Almost mechanically, Ginny picked up her spoon and started eating. This was too much. Half the Order didn’t understand and Harry hated her. Why had she done this? It was so stupid! Almost angrily, she noticed that she was crying again. She slammed her spoon down on the table, splattering soup all over her napkin. She muttered something about being right back and got up and ran into the kitchen, pouring herself a glass of water that she dumped over her head. She welcomed the cool sensation. It cleared her head and she turned to the sink, staring at her reflection.

The girl had blonde hair and dark green eyes. She looked tired and sad. Her blouse was loose and pale blue with small flower designs sprinkled all over it. And as of a few minutes ago, it was absolutely drenched. Her jeans were slightly too big, held up by a leather belt. She looked somehow unfamiliar, and in that moment, Ginny hated her more than anything else in the world.

But even as she watched, the face began to change. Freckles bloomed across her nose and cheeks, the eyes turned brown, the blonde hair grew and grew steadily redder as if it was blushing. In a moment, everything stopped, and Ginny found herself staring at a face that she hadn’t seen in over a year – her own.

She felt tears stinging at her eyes. She let them flow. She leaned against the wall and started laughing, still staring at her reflection. Over her shoulder, she saw Jenna standing in the doorway, pocketing her wand. Ginny turned and rushed towards her. She enveloped her friend in a tight hug, feeling her red hair swing around her face. She was back. After a year, Ginny Weasley was back.

***


They ate the rest of the meal cheerfully. Ginny told them plans for what she would tell the rest of the Order, what she’d tell Ron, how she’d convince Harry that it was really her. Through it all, Ellie watched her in amazement. Ginny knew that she recognized her as the girl Kingsley had caught such a long time ago in the backyard. It must have been strange for Ellie to see Monica transform into her after such a long time.

They ate for what seemed like hours to Ginny. When her mother finally came back to clear the table, Ginny helped her. She washed the dishes by hand just to stand near her mother. When she was done, Mrs. Weasley told her to go up to Harry and Ron’s room.

Slowly she trudged up the stairs, nervous again. It had been so pleasant to stand by her mother, to be accepted, to be Ginny again. Would Ron take it as easily?

She came to the door and knocked quietly. There was the sound of rustling paper and then a few footsteps. The door opened.

It was Ron, and he was crying. His eyes were red and his hair was standing on end. He looked exhausted. He stared at her for a few moments, a tear trickling down his cheek. “I’m dreaming,” he whispered. “Tell me I’m dreaming. Tell me this never happened. Tell me you didn’t die!” He grabbed Ginny in a tight hug, nearly choking her. “Ginny, tell me you don’t know who Monica is! Tell me she doesn’t exist!”

Ginny cried into his shoulder, holding tightly to him. “Ron… you’re not dreaming. It happened, all of it. I’m sorry. You know that,” she replied. “But Monica does not exist. It was me the entire time.”

Ron broke away, smiling through his tears. “I’m sorry. I was just so angry. I couldn’t believe you. It was just – just too hard. But you’re really alive. Really here. And you were with us the whole time,” he said, collapsing at the table.

She sat beside him. “Yeah,” she confirmed. “I never did die. I’m sorry I even started this. I can – I can be so stupid sometimes,” she sighed.

To her surprise, Ron grinned. “That’s my Ginny,” he said, patting her on the head.

“Hey! How many times have I told you not to do that?!” she cried, slapping his hand away. But she was laughing.

“Not enough, obviously,” he replied.

For a while they just sat there in silence. Finally, Ron picked up the book he’d been reading before she came and showed it to her. “Ever read Hogwarts, a History?” he asked.

“Of course not,” she replied, grinning. “Listen, Ron, will you come to Fred and George’s with me tomorrow?” she asked, getting up again.

“Sure,” he replied, opening the book. As she was about to close the door, he called out, “Hermione’s in her room.”

Ginny, getting the hint, made her way there, trying to calm down. Ron had reacted pretty well, considering she had almost returned from the dead. She had never been so grateful – Ron being Ron, she’d thought that it would have been difficult to convince him.

She shivered; and turning she saw an open window. A breeze was floating through. She looked outside. It was autumn now – the trees were turning orange and loosing leaves. It was a beautiful sight. Ginny leaned out the window, taking a deep breath. This had always been her favorite season.

She heard a sharp intake of breath behind her and turned to see a very shocked Hermione staring at her as if she had just risen from the dead.

Ginny smiled, slightly uncertain. Would Hermione forgive her as easily as Ron had?

Hermione looked back at her. For a few minutes there was a heavy silence. Then Hermione shook her head, smiling. “Where’d you learn to act like that?” she asked proudly.

Ginny stared at her in disbelief. “What d’you mean?” she asked uncertainly.

“Never, in a full year, did I expect anything of this sort. Never, in a full year, did I have the slightest suspicions that you might not be dead. And not until recently did I suspect that Monica Gould was a disguise. How did you do it?” Hermione asked, looking at Ginny with something that she thought must have been pride and anger mixed together.

“I was determined,” Ginny replied.

For a moment the silence returned. Hermione seemed to be having some sort of internal debate with herself before finally bursting out, “I should be really angry at you, but I’m just glad you’re alive. Ginny, don’t ever do anything like that again!” she cried, pulling Ginny into a tight sisterly hug.

When they broke apart, Ginny looked seriously at Hermione. “It was a stupid thing to do. I’m – I’m sorry,” she said.

Hermione nodded. “Did you talk to Ron?” she asked concernedly.

“Yeah,” Ginny replied. “He was actually pretty, well, pretty relaxed considering… what happened. I expected him to be more angry, I guess.”

“Oh, Ginny, I’m so sorry,” Hermione said, biting her lip, “but it’s – it’s Harry that’s angry. He’s furious. He thinks – he thinks you’re still trying to trick him. It’s his thing about everyone close to him dying. He’s convinced that you’re dead, and nothing any of us have done has done any good. And the day after tomorrow, if Lupin returns as planned, we’re going to have to go destroy the last Horcrux, and oh Ginny, I don’t know how we’ll do it with him like this!” she finished desperately.

It was what Ginny had been afraid of. Harry didn’t believe them, Veritaserum or no Veritaserum. He was just so stubborn! Once he’d decided on something, it had to stay that way no matter what, and so on and so forth. Ginny clenched her fists. This time, Harry was really starting to annoy her. Couldn’t he, just for once, allow himself to be happy? Did he always have to be the hero?

“He’s scared, Ginny,” said Hermione, bringing her back to the present. “I think that’s it. I think he’s scared of letting himself believe that you’re still there. Because if he let himself believe you were there, and then you weren’t, it would double the disappointment. He’s afraid of losing you again.”

Ginny held her friend’s gaze for a moment, nodding slowly. “He’s scared,” she agreed. “I understand that. But how can I make him see that he’s wrong?”

“You can’t. He’ll have to do that by himself,” Hermione replied. “You can only wait, do your best, and hope.”


Chapter 17: Harry and Hogwarts
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though.

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Chapter 17: Harry and Hogwarts


Wait, do your best, and hope. That was what Hermione had said. Ginny didn’t want to listen. She wanted to talk to Harry, to tell him that it was really her, to knock some sense into him. He was just being idiotic. So she went back to Ron’s room immediately to ask where Harry was.

She knocked on the door again, and Ron opened it. “You’re back,” he said with a slight smile.

“Yeah,” she replied. “Talked to Hermione. She said she was really impressed with how well I could act,” she added, chuckling slightly.

Ron grinned. “What d’you need?”

“Harry,” she replied, looking her brother straight in the eye.

Ron’s eyes widened in surprise. “Are you sure? He’s really – ”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I can handle anything he throws at me,” she responded confidently. “I have all of you on my side. He’s going to have to give in eventually, and I want to be the one to make him believe me.”

Ron smiled again, relaxing. “That’s my Ginny,” he said again. “I think he’s up in Buckbeak’s old room. But be careful. He’s… angry.”

She nodded and left.

***


Harry was pacing around the room angrily. Ron and Hermione were off somewhere, and he didn’t want to know where. Right now he was too angry at them all to care. He paced back and forth, thinking about what had happened yesterday. Monica had refused to interrogate Snape instead of Tonks. Then Ellie had come running in, insisting that she wasn’t her older sister. The Goulds, Monica, and Kingsley Shackelbolt had been locked into the basement prisons with Snape. Then, under the effects of the Veritaserum, Monica had told him that she was Ginny! The nerve! And then Kingsley! He’d made up a ridiculous story about her faking her death! He suddenly lashed out at the wall in anger. It wasn’t fair. With difficulty, he turned away from the thought.

Snape had actually revealed some interesting information with the aid of the Veritaserum. They now knew where and what the last Horcrux was. But Snape had also said that Voldemort had finally realized that they were being destroyed. But his reaction was something none of them had expected – Voldemort didn’t care. Snape didn’t know why. This alarmed them all. Had he possibly found a new way to stay immortal? Harry kept pacing, thinking about the actual Horcrux now. It was the snake, according to Snape. Nagini. She was always with Voldemort. Maybe that was why he didn’t care? Maybe he didn’t think they could get close enough to destroy her? Or maybe, once a Horcrux was destroyed, the piece of the soul that had been concealed inside would return to its master and make him stronger?

Harry collapsed on the couch. He blocked out his endless thoughts and let himself feel one feeling that he hadn’t felt in years. He felt sorry for himself. He’d blocked this out for so long, believing it to be selfish. But now, he couldn’t help it. He felt as if a huge responsibility had been shoved onto his shoulders, one that was impossible to get rid of. He had to lead the Order to defeat Voldemort. He had to have that stupid scar on his forehead. He had to be the one to worry about all this. It was all his responsibility. And now they were all mocking him about Ginny.

It just wasn’t fair. He started pacing again, fists clenched. He would go alone, no matter how foolish it seemed. He’d track down Voldemort by himself based on what Snape had said and finish off the snake and if possible, Voldemort himself. That was all he had to live for – freeing all the innocent people in the world of this man. It was all he still had left to do. After that, he didn’t know what would happen to him, and he didn’t care. It would be all over then.

Coming to a sudden decision, he turned towards the door. He was going to go back to his and Ron’s room, pack what he needed, and leave tomorrow morning while everyone else was at breakfast. He wouldn’t need to talk to anyone and no one would bother him. They’d figure it out soon enough.

He walked briskly across the room, but before he could reach the door, it opened for him. And standing in the doorway…

He thought he was having a heart attack. Standing in the doorway was Ginny Weasley.

She smiled uncertainly at him and he stared at her, at a loss for what to think. He felt his heart pounding, his hands shaking, and his head spinning. No, this was too much. She was dead. Ginny had died. She couldn’t be standing here, right in front of him…

“Harry,” she said. Her voice seemed to come from a long ways away. He pulled himself back out of his thoughts and focused on her. Every strand of hair, every freckle, every sparkle in her eyes was as he remembered them. She looked so real… How he wished she was actually there…

“Harry, I’m sorry,” she said, her voice cracking slightly. He shook his head. He was dreaming. He had to be. She couldn’t be real.

“They told me you were here, that you were avoiding everyone. I’m sorry,” she repeated.

His vision was blurring. There were tears in his eyes. He wished she was really there, because he knew she couldn’t be. She was dead. There was no way she could return, just like that. Was he dreaming? This couldn’t be real. Still he said nothing, but continued to stare at him.

She seemed to become slightly nervous. “Harry? Are you going to say something?” she asked, sounding almost worried.

“I can’t talk to a ghost of my girlfriend,” he whispered, just loud enough for her to hear.

“But I’m not a ghost!” she said, reaching out a hand to touch his hand gently. It was warm and soft.

“Then what are you?” he asked, hardly managing to keep his voice steady.

“I’m Ginny Weasley,” she told him, squeezing his hand gently.

“What d’you mean?” he asked. “Ginny’s dead, I saw her die! What’s your point, coming in here and insisting you’re her? Who are you?” he finished angrily.

She stared at him in shock. “When will you finally believe me? I took Veritaserum and I said I was Ginny! How can you not accept that, Harry?” she told him.

“Ginny’s dead! Nothing you can do will bring her back!” he replied, now nearly furious.

“No, I’m not!” Ginny cried exasperatedly. What was wrong with him? “Didn’t you listen to anything Kingsley said?! I only pretended to die! It was to keep you all safe!”

“Yeah, right!” he yelled. She could tell that he was struggling with himself. “How would that have helped? And you still haven’t answered – who are you and why are you insulting me like this?!”

“Oh, if you would just listen, then you would have heard me say that I am Ginny, and that you’re being an absolute idiot, and you should stop this right now before I hex you!” she screamed.

“Shut up! I don’t believe you! Ginny is dead!” he yelled back, his face reddening.

“No! You idiot, Harry!” she replied, fists clenched. “Why do you always have to be like this? Why can’t you just let yourself believe once in a while?! Why do have to do this to me? You know I’m here! Why can’t you just accept that?!” she finished, and with that, she turned on her heal and ran down the hall away from Harry.

He stared after her, mouth open. What was she playing at?

***


Ginny ran all the way back to Hermione’s room and pounded on the door. She knew it was probably quite late now – dinner seemed like it had happened ages ago. She heard a groan, and footsteps. The door opened and a tousle-haired Hermione looked blearily out at her.

“Ginny,” she said, surprised. “What’re you doing here? It’s almost eleven.”

“I just talked to Harry,” she replied. Hermione seemed to realize then how furious Ginny looked – her fists were clenched, her face, neck, and ears were red, and she looked nearly ready to kill.

“You should’ve waited,” Hermione replied, understanding what had happened.

“I know,” Ginny muttered, walking into the room and collapsing on the empty bed. Hermione sat on hers and looked at her, seeming to expect more.

“I dunno what to do,” Ginny said softly. She felt the excessive color leave her face. She ran a hand through her hair and lay back, staring at the ceiling. “He was convinced that I wasn’t real. I touched his hand – he still thought I was dead. It was as if he thought someone else was pretending to be me to mock him.”

“That’s what he’s been insisting since you took the Veritaserum,” Hermione said.

“I know,” Ginny replied. She grabbed the pillow and put it onto her head so that she couldn’t see anything. “I just wish he’d stop being such an idiot and realize that we’re not joking. He’s just being stupid.”

“Yeah,” Hermione agreed. “But I don’t think there’s anything we can do. He’s just too stubborn sometimes.”

“It’s like you said,” Ginny added. “All we can do is wait, do our best, and hope.”

Hermione nodded. There was a long silence, and after a while, Ginny became aware that Hermione had fallen asleep. She curled up on the bed and tried to sleep as well.

***


Everyone was at breakfast except Harry. He was now pacing around his and Ron’s room, stroking Hedwig, and thinking about what had happened yesterday.

Actually, he was thinking about that strange dream he’d had yesterday. The one where Ginny had come, told him she was alive. But he’d refused, telling her it couldn’t be true. But it had been so real… Part of him wanted to believe her, to stop worrying like this, but the rest of him knew that she was dead and there was no way to reverse that. It was too painful to think about.

He thought about Snape and Voldemort instead. He could still go… He’d already eaten, and he could still grab his Invisibility Cloak now while everyone was eating. He could go now, track down Voldemort, destroy Nagini… It seemed foolish, even in his mind. But there was nothing left for him here – Ginny was dead, and if everyone else was convinced otherwise…

Coming to a sudden decision, he pulled his father’s Invisibility Cloak from the closet, stuck his wand in his pocket, and told Hedwig goodbye. Almost as if she knew what he was going to do, she held his sleeve in her beak as if pulling him back.

“No, Hedwig, you know I have to go,” he told the owl, pulling his sleeve away. She hooted softly, as if she understood but didn’t like it, and watched him walk to the door with her large eyes.

Harry pulled the Invisibility Cloak on, hoping he wouldn’t run into Moody or anyone else. Then he unlocked the door and stepped out onto the landing. There was no one in sight, so he closed and locked the door and made his way to the stairs. He tiptoed down, hearing voices come from a few doors. Finally on the ground floor, he hurried towards the front door. Just as he reached it, it opened. He jumped backwards and out of the way, hiding behind the umbrella stand. Tonks and Lupin came in, letting a few rays of morning sunshine into the hall. He slipped out from his hiding place and snuck past Lupin and out the door.

He turned around and faced the house, his heart beating painfully in his chest. He might never see them again… There was every chance that he would die trying to defeat Voldemort. For the first time, doubt surfaced through his blind determination. Was he just being stupid? Shouldn’t he let the Order at least help him? No, he thought. If they could so cruelly make fun of him about Ginny, then they wouldn’t be much help in this case. He looked up towards his and Ron’s window and saw Hedwig sitting on the window sill. As he looked away, he caught sight of her taking flight into the trees.

He turned around and hurried away.

***


Ginny, Ron, and Hermione were walking down the main street of Diagon Alley, headed for Fred and George’s shop. They were chatting pleasantly, as if nothing had ever changed between them. But hovering above them was still a degree of unfamiliarity. Ginny had been gone to all of them for over a year, and even Ginny herself was having trouble adjusting. Now, she found herself making Monica-ish comments and switching back to the more familiar personality. Every time she caught herself doing this, she kicked herself mentally, telling herself there was no need to pretend anymore. She was Ginny Weasley now, and she really should start acting like herself again.

The three of them finally arrived at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and stopped outside, admiring the windows for a moment or two. Then Ginny walked forward and pushed the door open briskly.

A burst of noise greeted them as they walked into the shop. The twins were apparently demonstrating a new product, because a crowd of people was gathered around the stage to the left and applauding wildly.

On the stage was a hippogriff. Just a plain hippogriff. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny glanced at each other and proceeded towards the back of the crowd. As they watched, the hippogriff turned into a grinning George. There was more applause and Fred, standing off to the side, called, “Hippogriff Honeys! Seven Sickles! Slip some into your teacher’s breakfast and have them turn into a hippogriff right in the Great Hall! You can even time it so that your teacher turns into one during class! Instructions on the box – comes in a set of five!”

The three of them stayed to the back of the crowd until everyone had grabbed a box and went to pay. Then they rushed forward towards the twins, who were gathering up the remaining boxes.

“Hey Fred, hey George,” said Ginny.

They looked up and their faces split into identical grins. “Good one you pulled there, Ginny,” George said with a wink.

“Real nice,” Fred added. “Had us fooled ‘till the very end.”

Ginny chuckled. “You aren’t mad at all, then? It was a bit… stupid of me, I guess,” she said, looking down.

“Nah,” said Fred. “We were a bit shocked at the beginning, but you know, once we thought over Kingsley’s story a few times it all made sense.”

She nodded. “Thanks,” she replied, not quite sure why. It just seemed appropriate to say.

Ron and Hermione were standing back a little, watching. There was an awkward silence between them, broken when Ron cleared his throat. “Want a hand with those boxes?” he asked the twins.

“Sure,” they replied in unison. “We’re putting them over on that shelf over there,” Fred finished, pointing.

The three of them helped the twins stack the small boxes neatly, then watched as they levitated them onto the shelf. “So, girls, have you seen our new products yet?” George said, steering Hermione and Ginny in the direction of a fluffy pink section, where a now enormous cage of Pygmy Puffs was resting.

Ginny gasped suddenly, stopping. “What did you guys do with Arnold?” she asked. Not once, in over a year, had she thought about her pet Pygmy Puff!

“We’ve got him,” Fred said with a grin. “Ron said you would want him looked after, so we’ve got him in the cage with all the others. Mind you, a lot of people were really keen on him, but we told them no.”

Ginny ran up to the cage and opened the little door, searching for Arnold. She finally found her Pygmy Puff at the bottom of the cage, asleep. Carefully taking him out, she held him close and cooed at the little fluff ball.

Ron, Hermione, and the twins watched, all of them smiling slightly. It was definitely Ginny who was cooing at her pet.

“Oh, you little fluff ball, I’ve missed you too…” she told him, and set the Pygmy Puff on her shoulder, where he puffed himself up and nestled contently into her neck.

Fred shook his head, saying, “He was really sad that you were gone. He wouldn’t let us touch him. We thought he was sick, but obviously he likes you too much.”

“Ooh, Harry’s got competition,” George laughed.

Ginny turned away, hiding her hurt expression. The twins seemed to realize what was wrong, because Fred put a hand on her shoulder and turned her around.

At that moment, the door opened and Kingsley Shackelbolt burst in, yelling for Fred and George.

“Over here, Kingsley,” called Ron, waving.

Kingsley turned towards them, and they were shocked to see how pale and scared he looked. “We have to get back to Headquarters. Hogwarts is taken – Harry’s in trouble – I was sent to get all of you back. We have to go after him,” Kingsley explained, herding them out the door.

“Verity, watch the shop while we’re gone, it might be a while,” George yelled back at the assistant, who nodded and continued restocking one of the shelves.

“What’s happened?” Ginny asked Kingsley anxiously as they hurried down the street.

“Harry’s gone. He left Headquarters sometime and none of us know when or where he went. We think he’s gone to fight Voldemort himself, and we’re gathering our full strength to go after him. And we’ve just found out – Voldemort’s taken Hogwarts, so all the students are at Headquarters now too,” Kingsley replied in a stressed voice. “Can all of you Apparate?” he asked as they made it back to the Leaky Cauldron.

“Yeah,” Hermione said. She was very white. “But – ”

“The Anti-Apparition spell’s been lifted for the next half hour, so Apparate straight into the house, all right?” he asked, speaking very fast and cutting Hermione off.

They all nodded, turned, and Disapparated. With a few cracks they reappeared in the hall of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, which was swarming with people. Through the confusion, people were shouting instructions and orders, pulling on cloaks, and trying to cover up Mrs. Black’s portrait, which was screaming again. They saw a few faces of Hogwarts students and teachers.

Ginny grabbed Ron and Hermione and started pushing through the crowd to get to Professor McGonagall. The professor was giving out hurried instructions and she looked extremely stressed. “You three – go with Remus and Tonks,” she called, pointing at them. “And take the twins, too!”

“Wait! Professor!” Hermione called. “What are we going to do?”

“Go find Remus, he’ll tell you!” she responded. “I have to keep everyone organized, but everyone’s panicking,” she added furiously. “This is impossible!”

Ginny looked around, saw Fred and George standing watching, and turned to look around at the rest of the Order. She ran to the stairs, and positioned herself so that she could see everyone. Then she took a deep breath and yelled as loudly as she could, “Hey, everyone! Shut up!”

The room quieted immediately, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley finished closing Mrs. Black’s curtain. “We need to get organized if we want to go anywhere anytime soon!” she yelled. “Now, Professor McGonagall is doing a great job over here, but you people need to stop panicking so that we can get started!” she finished. The Order stared at her in shock.

She suddenly realized that most of them hadn’t seen her since yesterday, when she’d still been Monica Gould. She felt her face reddening slightly, but held her ground. “Well, go on!” she cried, her voice shaking slightly. “Listen to what McGonagall wants,” she added.

McGonagall took Ginny’s place and looked over the assembled Order. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She caught Ginny’s eye and tried again. “Welcome back, Ginny,” she said. Ginny smiled, embarrassed, happy, and scared at the same time.

“But we have work to do,” she said briskly. “First we need to find Harry, and then we have to deal with Hogwarts. Harry left sometime today, and we are fairly sure that he went after Voldemort and Nagini based on Snape’s information. That means he’s most likely heading towards the school right now. I want us to split into search groups and once we find anything, we’ll alert the other groups. We have to think like Harry now. He was desperate, and I’m sure all of us are too now, only for different reasons. If I’ve told you where to go, go there, and if I haven’t, come and form a line so that I can form groups. Then we’ll give out final instructions and leave. And for those of you coming from Hogwarts, if you can fight, stay, and if you can’t, go. This is a matter of life and death. Do you all understand?” she finished strongly. Here and there among the white faces there were nods. “Then go!”

***


Harry pulled his wand out of his pocket. He moved the Invisibility Cloak slightly to let in some fresh air, and approached the gates of Hogwarts. Snape had said something about Voldemort attacking the school – and indeed, on the way here, people had been talking fearfully of the school’s fall. Harry was shocked that the Order hadn’t done anything yet, but maybe they were too preoccupied with him. He kicked himself mentally for leaving at such a stupid time.

He peered anxiously through the gate, but the grounds were deserted. He made sure that he was completely covered by the Invisibility Cloak, and then cast a Disillusionment Jinx on himself just in case. He pushed against the gate, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t creak or do anything to alert anyone of his presence. It didn’t. He slipped in, feeling his heart start pounding. Why had he done this? Was he just being idiotic? The doubts returned, but before he could do anything else, a jet of green light flew over his shoulder, barely an inch from his face.

He whirled around, looking for his attacker. And out of the shadows emerged a short, bald man, his wand raised and pointed to the space just right of Harry. “Come out, come out, I know you’re there,” said the rat like voice of Peter Pettigrew.

Rage welled up inside Harry. This was the man who had betrayed his parents to Voldemort. This was the man who’d helped return Voldemort to his full strength. He knew he should kill him. He suddenly remembered that night so long ago, when he had first met Sirius. When he had nearly killed Sirius. The same anger, the same hatred was pounding through him, but this time, he knew he could really do it. Holding his wand steady in front of him, he whispered the words and unleashed a jet of green light.

It hit Pettigrew in the chest, and lit up his face briefly. He looked shocked as he crumpled to the ground. Harry’s heart pounded. He rushed forward, turned Pettigrew over… he was dead. Harry’s breath caught in his throat. He had killed a man. No matter how horrible he was, he’d still killed him. Regret washed over him and he felt disgusted with himself. How easy it was to just take a man’s life… How could Voldemort live with this?

Harry leaned against a nearby tree, still horrified with himself. A minute ago, he’d killed a man. He was never going to forget this moment.

Suddenly, he heard the crack of a twig. He turned around, heart pounding again. Approaching were two black robed figures, wands raised. Harry took a deep breath, tried once to calm his pounding heart, and pushed himself off from the tree. He raised his wand, hesitated, and sent two Stunning Spells. He couldn’t bring himself to kill again.

The Death Eaters fell back, stunned. But at that moment, he caught sight of even more of them coming out of the castle doors. They were hurrying towards the gate – towards him. They must have seen the jets of light – and now they were going to hunt him down and kill him.



Chapter 18: If There Was An After
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though. And a lot of this chapter was part of my Writer’s Duel entry, which, being the idiot that I am, I submitted to the wrong category. You’ll obviously figure out which one it was supposed to go in haha.

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Chapter 18: If There Was An After


Smoke was rising over the wall that surrounded the castle. They could hear screams and yells. Flashes of light illuminated the castle and shadows danced across the stone. Ginny took a deep breath. This was it. Nothing else after this – if there was an after. Going in there meant certain death. Holding her wand at the ready, she stepped forward after the rest of the group.

They had been searching for Harry for only an hour when McGonagall had sent the alarm. About half of the Order was already fighting, and now they were about to do the same.

“Good luck, everyone,” said Remus, quickly handing out bars of chocolate.

Ron half laughed. His freckles were standing out immensely against his white skin. “Funny thing to say,” he said, voice shaking.

Hermione suddenly hugged him tightly. “Ron – if I never see you again, know that I love you!” she hissed furiously at him as she buried her face in his neck.

Fred and George were shaking hands, exchanging last minute joke shop ideas. Remus and Tonks were hugging as well. Ginny stood back, shaking in fear. Suddenly she felt something warm against her neck and reached up to her shoulder. A little ball of fluff was sitting there. “Oh Arnold,” she sighed. “How could I have forgotten you?” She petted the Pygmy Puff. “Hold on tight and whatever you do, don’t get hurt,” she told him.

“I’m going in,” she announced, turning back towards the castle. “We can’t just wait forever.”

The others turned to look at her and nodded. “Let’s go,” said George softly.

They took out their wands, cast a few protective jinxes on each other, and hurried towards the remains of the gate, which had been blown up. The sounds of battle intensified, and Ginny felt as if she was about to faint. They came to the large gap in the gate and slipped through, already shooting curses and jinxes from their wands.

***


Lucius Malfoy smirked. Was she really such a fool as to enter the battle unprotected? Well, more opponents weren’t what he needed. As the red-haired girl stepped forward and her friends vanished into the battle, he whispered the incantation and sent a jet of light at her. She turned towards him in shock and raised her wand. Kill Harry Potter. Now. he thought. She turned and ran into the battle, releasing killing curses at his instruction. Satisfied, he turned to find himself facing a very angry Weasley.

“Avada Kedavra!” the boy yelled, and before Lucius had any time to react, he fell to the ground, dead.

***


His vision was fading. He couldn’t see much anymore, not through the haze of the battle raging all around him and the blood flowing freely from the gash on the side of his face. He was following his instinct, dodging curses and firing back. His left arm hung limply beside him, and he couldn’t move it. But his wand arm seemed to have a mind of its own – it flew through the air, slashing and stabbing, swishing and flicking. Light shot every which way; he didn’t even know what was going on anymore.

Suddenly, someone knocked into him, and he tumbled off to the side. The person fell on top of him and didn’t move. He pushed himself out from underneath the unconscious body and barely recognized the face as Percy Weasley. Tears sprang to his eyes. Turning away, he continued running, thankful for his right arm’s quick actions. Flashes of light and screams surrounded him. He tasted blood. Stumbling, he slipped and twisted his ankle on a root. He grabbed onto the nearest object to hold himself up, gazing with surprise into a face framed by flaming red hair. A cruel laugh, a jet of green light…

***


Ginny jerked around, her mind clearing. She knew that she had been under the Imperius Curse for at least a few minutes – she was in the middle of the battle, her wand pointed at a body on the ground by her feet. “Neville!” she cried, tears forming in her eyes. She had killed him. Malfoy had been there – she had seen him. He had been controlling her. Sobs wracked through her, and she collapsed beside his body, forgetting where she was until a blast of red light sent her flying. She slammed against the castle wall, gasping for breath. Her wand clattered against the stone beside her and she jumped at it, diving down behind a bush as a green explosion took place where she had just been.

Through the bush she took aim and sent a Bat-Bogey Hex at her attacker. It was Snape. Bubbling rage coursed through her. He’d escaped! Hexes and curses flew from her mouth; she wanted to kill him. Ten minutes later, he was slumped on the ground, dead. Satisfied, Ginny turned back to the battle. The first thing she saw was a tall, hooded figure making its way through the battle. A snake was curled about its shoulders. Its curses were stronger than any being sent towards it.

Voldemort.

Ginny ran. All of her instincts told her to turn and leave the battle, but she couldn’t. Harry needed her. She saw Ron battling Draco Malfoy, whose lip was bleeding violently. Hermione was just now unleashing a killing curse. She ran into the midst of the fighting, following Voldemort. She knew he was going towards Harry. It was where she needed to be, too. Finally he stopped, and so did she. Still defending herself and hexing the surrounding Death Eaters, she fought her way to where Harry was, crawling on the ground. His glasses were missing and there was a cut along the length of his right arm. Blood was seeping through his robes. Ginny’s mouth went dry. She pulled him up into a standing position, but his eyes never caught hers. They were fixed on Voldemort.

Cold laughter rang out. Ginny knew Harry had little strength left. She sent a curse at Voldemort, but it was deflected. She tried again, not achieving anything. Swearing, she ducked as he sent a killing curse her way. She rolled to the side and he obviously thought her dead.

Eyes half closed, she watched Voldemort turn to Harry. The scar on his forehead blazed brightly, the wand rose. Green light was building at the tip, which was vibrating violently. Voldemort was doing the same. The snake slithered away, dropping towards Ginny. The last Horcrux… Its mouth opened, a forked tongue flicked at her. At the last second she jerked back and released a killing curse at the same time that Harry did. The two joined to form a stronger curse and met Voldemort’s in midair. They passed through one another, one heading towards Voldemort and the other – straight at Harry. There was no time for him to duck, but Ginny threw herself forward just as the snake struck. A blinding pain in her side, a flash of green, a rushing sound…

***


If this was dying, Ginny thought as she fell, it really wasn’t all that bad. She felt a dull throbbing pain in her side, but that was all. She could see only a strange sort of white fog, through which people seemed to be moving, but in slow motion. She felt herself fall against someone and let herself drop against them. She seemed to almost float to the ground, and when she landed, it seemed soft and comforting. Something long and heavy landed across her legs. A strange, puffy creature was cuddling into her neck. She thought she could feel something warm and wet gushing across her fingers, but she wasn’t sure. Slowly, the white fog darkened into an impenetrable blackness.

***


When Harry woke up, someone was bustling around the large room that he was in. She was serving a large breakfast to the occupant of the bed in the corner. Without glasses, Harry couldn’t see well. He tried to call out to the woman, but his throat seemed to be made of sandpaper. As far as he could tell, he was in St. Mungo’s. He tried to turn to look around him, and was greeted with a splitting headache. He groaned, his voice cracking. The Healer turned to look at him.

“Harry!” she cried quietly. Her hand rested on her heart and she hurried to his bed, telling the patient in the corner that she would be right back. “You’re awake at last! It’s been almost a full month now; some of us were worried that you weren’t going to make it!”

Up close, he recognized the face. “Cho?” he croaked.

She nodded, smiling. “The rest of the Order is here and in the next two rooms,” she said, correctly interpreting his questioning look.

“That – that many?” he whispered.

“I’m afraid so,” she said sadly. “The funerals are going to take place next month as well.”

A stone seemed to drop in his stomach. Ginny. She was dead. During the battle – the last moments – it had been her that had jumped in front of him, her that had taken the curse instead of him… He felt light-headed. After all that had happened, she hadn’t been lying, it had been her after all… All this time, he’d been so stupid. She’d been right all along. He’d been stupid. And now she was really gone, really dead… Tears leaked down his cheeks and sobs wracked through him. Just when he’d found her again, she had really died. He couldn’t even tell her how she felt. She had died knowing that he didn’t believe her, knowing that he was just too stubborn to accept what was right in front of him…

Thinking was too painful. He blocked everything from his mind and looked around towards his bedside table. There was a glass of water that he picked up immediately. He took a long drink, feeling the cool water make its way down his throat. He suddenly realized how thirsty he was and drank some more. Finally done, he set the glass down and caught sight of a fluffy something with a tail that was sitting beside his water.

He picked it up, and the ball of fluff made a sort of purring noise. It swung its tail off of his hand. He looked up at Cho for an explanation. Her blurry face swam above him. “The Weasleys told me to give that to you – they called it Arnold,” she told him.

Arnold… That was the name of Ginny’s old Pygmy Puff. Tears welled up in his eyes again. He pushed the memories away forcefully. He gently set Arnold onto his shoulder, where the Pygmy Puff curled up and purred.

Cho reached onto his bedside table and picked up a pair of glasses. “Here,” she said, handing them to him. “Can you see better now?”

They weren’t his glasses, but his vision cleared up at once. Suddenly, he noticed something else missing. “Where – where’s my wand?”

Cho took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Harry. It – the curse you performed – it was too strong. You had too much power for the wand. And it wasn’t meant to be used against its brother like that. It was too much for the wand – the strain from your power combined with fighting its brother broke it. Here it is,” she explained, picking up a tray from the table at the end of his bed. On it were the splintered remains of two wands – his wand and Voldemort’s.

***


After three days, he was able to walk again. He visited everyone else in the ward – Tonks, Hermione, Remus, McGonagall, Moody, Kingsley, and Flitwick. All of them except for Flitwick were well. He had been hit by a rather powerful Stunning spell at the same time as an Impedimenta jinx. Cho and the other Healers still didn’t know whether he would survive or not.

When Harry asked Hermione fearfully where Ron was, she smiled and took him next door. “It’s the ‘Weasley Ward.’ All of them are in there.”

“All – all of them?” he asked. “But I thought that the dead had been taken out of St. Mungo’s!”

She gave him a curious look and knocked on the door, saying, “They’re all alive.”

Harry’s heart pounded. Alive? Ginny was alive? He petted Arnold the Pygmy Puff, who was still sitting on his shoulder. The door was opened by a curly haired Healer, and Harry limped through quickly. He scanned the beds and saw all of the Weasleys, every single one, awake and doing some activity or another. Ginny was at the far end, by the window, and she was writing in a notebook with a long quill. As he hurried towards her, feeling light-headed with happiness, she tore out the page and put the notebook and quill away.

She looked up at him as he approached. Her eyes locked onto his and he felt tears pricking at his eyes. She was alive; she was safe. They had both survived; the battle was over. Everything would be all right now.

“Harry,” she said softly.

He stood for a moment, staring at her. Then he collapsed onto the edge of the bed, still staring. Her red hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail and there were a few healing cuts on her face. She looked just as beautiful as he’d known she would. But there was something else. Her brown eyes had a hard, determined look that he’d never seen before. Their normal happy look had vanished, and she looked somehow older and more experienced. She looked like she’d grown up since the last time he’d seen her – and with a jolt, he realized that she was more than a year older than the last time he’d seen her.

“Harry, I’m sorry,” she said, her voice catching. She held his gaze, and he didn’t know when he had been happier.

“It’s okay… Ginny.”

He watched the comprehension dawn on her face, and then change to delight as she threw her arms around him and hugged him close. Her fingers played with Arnold’s tail and she buried her face in Harry’s neck, half crying and half laughing. He held her close, letting tears drop into her red hair. He had never felt like this, not when he’d seen Ginny come running towards him after the Quidditch Cup so long ago, not even when he’d seen her alive and happy. He felt like everything he’d ever done in his life had led up to this wonderful moment, and now that it had happened, his life was perfect.

“Harry, you’re better,” she said softly.

“Ginny…” he whispered. He loved just saying her name; he loved the flutter in his stomach that wasn’t going away. He breathed in the scent of her hair, whispered in her ear how glad he was to see her again. Kissing her softly on the cheek, he pulled back to look her straight in the eye. “How did you survive? I saw you – you jumped in front of me, Voldemort sent the killing curse, and I thought you died.”

She brushed away a stray strand of black hair that had fallen across his eyes. “It didn’t hit me,” she whispered, eyes sparkling. “I thought I was dying, too. It was the snake, Harry. Nagini, wasn’t it? She was going to kill me on the ground when I was waiting for you to finish off Voldemort. So I stopped pretending to be dead and helped you – I sent another Avada Kedavra with yours. Then I saw Voldemort’s curse heading your way and jumped – and I guess Nagini bit me at that moment because my side hurt so much that all I remember was thinking I was dead for sure, that the curse had ripped my skin open and I was dying and – and – but the curse hit the snake, Harry. It hit Nagini. So she died, but she’d still bitten me. It hurts, Harry. It hurts so much.”

He stared at her, a tear slipping down his cheek. “She must’ve been the last Horcrux. That was so dangerous, Ginny. You could’ve died.”

“You couldn’t have done it by yourself, Harry, you know that. If I hadn’t been there, you would’ve died. This way, we’re both a little hurt, but we’re alive. And that’s what matters, isn’t it? In the end, all that matters is that we’re alive,” she replied, her hand caressing his cheek gently.

He nodded, too numb to speak. She leaned in and kissed him gently. Another tear slipped down his cheek and she pulled away, wiping it away with her thumb. “It’s all right now, Harry. It’s over,” she whispered, smiling gently.

“I’m glad you came. I love you, Ginny,” he replied softly, watching her eyes widen slightly and then form a tear of their own. She hugged him tightly and he held her close, never wanting to let go.

Suddenly a loud voice jerked them out of their embrace.

“Oy, Harry! After a month of not seeing any of us, the first thing you have to do is go and snog my little sister in front of everyone?!” Ron cried in dismay.

Harry and Ginny broke apart, blushing slightly. “Well, you and Hermione aren’t much better,” replied Ginny, seeing her brother’s arm around Hermione’s shoulders.

Ron shot her a glare but let the comment go. He turned to Harry. “How are you, Harry? We figured out what happened and you almost died; if it wasn’t for the Healers here, you would be dead. And your wand’s gone, too…”

“I don’t know,” Harry replied. “But I feel horrible about what happened. I killed two people. I never want to again, no matter how much I hate them. But now, with all of you here, and all of us are safe and we don’t have to worry about Voldemort anymore…” He stopped rambling to find every face in the room watching him. He realized that he was crying again, finally understanding the weight that had been lifted from his shoulders. Ginny put her arms around him and he held her close. Arnold cuddled into his neck. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were both crying slightly, holding each other. Bill, who had a healing cut across his cheek, was smiling and nodding, an arm around Fleur, who was wiping her eyes. Charlie sat by Ron and seemed to be trying to hold back a few tears of his own. Percy was standing by his parents, his arm in a sling. Ron and Hermione were sitting close, both crying gently. Harry looked around at them all and smiled. “I feel… perfect.”

Ginny turned back towards him. He felt her lips kiss his cheek gently and heard a soft whisper – “You once told me it would be love that would defeat him – and I love you too, Harry.”

And Harry knew that, no matter how long she’d been gone, no matter what had happened in the last year or the last month, Ginny Weasley was really back, and there was no way that she’d be leaving again.



Chapter 19: Epilogue: Understanding
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Disclaimer JKR gets the credit – characters, settings, etc. is all hers. Anything you recognize is probably not mine. The Goulds are mine though.

I’m sorry, but this is really it. It’s really more of an epilogue, so I won’t even call it chapter 19. But before you read it, just let me say a few things real quick. Thanks so much to all of you for sticking with me through this fic. Thanks for reviewing and telling me what to improve on and how much you liked it – it really kept my spirits up and kept it getting better. You can’t even begin to imagine how glad I am that I have you guys to count on – that you’ll read and review and just support me. I’m really going to miss that. Now that I’m done with SG, I’ll see if I can check out some of your guys’s stuff too, or maybe get around to writing something else… we’ll see. But for now, enjoy.

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Epilogue: Understanding


Ginny turned another page of the photo album, smiling. She reached for her cup of tea and took a sip, leaning back into the couch’s pillows. Her eyes scanned over the pictures, watching the waving and smiling figures happily.

She vaguely heard the door of the house opening, and along with that came the sounds of her husband and children’s laughter. She’d asked him to pick the kids up from Ron and Hermione’s on his way home from work. She smiled, setting down her cup of tea and laying the book aside.

She heard Harry telling the kids to take off their shoes and leave their jackets, and a few seconds later, there were footsteps in the hall.

“Mummy!” cried the excited voice of seven-year-old Emmy Potter. The little girl came bursting into the living room and wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist.

“Hello, Emmy,” Ginny said to her daughter, kissing the top of her head. “Where’s Peter?”

“With Daddy,” Emmy replied, letting go of her mother. “Guess what, Mummy? Guess what?”

“What?” Ginny asked eagerly, sitting down beside her daughter on the couch.

The little girl was bouncing with excitement. “Uncle Ronnie told me to ask you if we could all help him plan a surprise birthday party for Aunt Mione!”

“Ooh, that would be wonderful!” Ginny exclaimed. “What did you tell him?”

“I said I’d ask you, and thanks for offering,” replied Emmy proudly.

“Good job,” Ginny replied as Harry and five-year-old Peter appeared in the doorway.

“Hello, Peter,” she said, scooping up her son and giving him a big hug. She leaned over and kissed Harry on the cheek as he left for the kitchen.

“Mummy!” he cried happily. “Guess what Tom and Mandy and Emmy and I did today?” he asked, eyes shining.

“Well, I don’t know, why don’t you tell me?” Ginny asked, grinning.

She relaxed into the couch as her children sat on either side of her, telling her excitedly what they’d done at their cousins’ house that day and what Aunt Mione had made for dinner. Before long, Harry returned with a tray of cookies and two glasses of milk floating along beside him. He set these on the coffee table and the kids immediately attacked their dessert.

“And how was your day, dear?” asked Ginny, giving Harry a light kiss on the lips before he took a bite of cookie.

“Fine,” he replied with a smile, wiping some stray crumbs from his mouth. “They haven’t got anything on Greyback yet, although Remus is working extremely hard. I think another few days should crack it. We’re pretty sure there’s another group of five or so Death Eaters out there with him, but since last week, they’ve calmed down a lot,” he told her.

“What exactly did happen last week? I only caught what the Daily Prophet said, and you know how they’re not the most reliable source,” she said with a smirk.

“What ‘till the kids are in bed,” he told her, giving her a peck on the cheek.

She smiled and turned to look at their kids. Emmy, with long Weasley hair and Harry’s green eyes, looked somewhat like Harry’s mother had, and Ginny knew that Harry loved her for it. Peter had inherited the Potter hair – jet black and untamable. He had Ginny’s nose and freckles and hazel eyes. Harry had insisted on naming their first son after Peter Pettigrew, although Ginny still didn’t fully understand why.

The two of them ate a few more cookies and finished their drinks. Emmy turned to look at her mother, yawning. “Are we gonna visit Remmy and Tonks tomorrow?” she asked eagerly. She had been bugging her parents for a week now, ever since Harry had mentioned it.

“We’ll ask,” Harry said with a smile. “I think Remus is ready now.”

“Are you sure a week is enough – ”

“Yeah, Gin,” he replied. “He was fine in the office today.”

She nodded, smiling. Harry cleared up the table as Ginny took her children’s hands and led them upstairs to their bedrooms. “Emmy, d’you want to brush your teeth while I get Peter ready for bed?” she asked her daughter.

Emmy nodded happily and skipped off into the bathroom. “C’mon, Peter,” Ginny said, leading him to his room, which was decorated with Quidditch posters.

***


Half an hour later, she retreated down the stairs quietly and turned off the light in the hallway. The kids were tired, and both of them were already asleep. She slipped into the living room, where she joined Harry on the couch. He was looking through the photo album that she’d discarded earlier. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders as she sat down. She rested her head against his shoulder and looked at the pictures as well, a peaceful smile on her lips.

“So what happened last week?” she asked vaguely after a few minutes of comfortable silence.

“I told you that we sent a search party of seven into the area where Greyback was hiding, right?” he asked, and at her nod, he continued. “Well, they found the Death Eaters, like the Prophet said. Greyback was leading them. There were twelve or so. Seeing as it was a full moon night, the Death Eaters were trying to get Greyback somewhere where he wouldn’t attack. That’s when our search party arrived. Lucky Ron and I weren’t there, Dean just told us everything afterwards,” he said, shivering. “They attacked, and Greyback transformed. I think three Death Eaters were killed and Greyback got Colin Creevey. He’s in the hospital right now,” he finished.

Ginny nodded sadly. She remembered Colin Creevey from school, and he really didn’t deserve that fate. “How is he?” she asked, looking up at Harry.

“He’s going to be fine. Still out of it though – Greyback got him pretty bad. I’m visiting him and the others day after tomorrow – want to come?” he asked.

“Sure,” she answered, smiling back and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Then she leaned her head against his shoulder again and flipped a page in the photo album.

“Oh look – that was us in your sixth year!” she cried, seeing the picture of herself and Harry sitting by the lake, arms around each other and smiling.

Harry laughed. “And look – I still can’t believe Hermione actually took a picture of Ron and Lavender,” he said with a chuckle.

“He’s still mad at her over that,” Ginny replied with a smile, flipping the page. “And there’s – ”

She abruptly stopped talking, staring at the page. “I haven’t looked at this in years,” she whispered, covering the picture with her hand.

Harry’s arm tightened around her. He kissed the top of her head.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I still am. I was being stupid.”

“No, Ginny, it’s all right,” he replied softly, entwining their fingers and gently pulling her hand away.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione were standing in the kitchen of Number 12 Grimmauld Place with a light brown haired, green eyed girl. Next to the picture, Hermione’s neat script proclaimed, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and our new friend Monica Gould.

Ginny felt a lump rising in her throat. “I shouldn’t have done it,” she whispered as she turned her head away from the picture.

“No, Gin,” Harry said softly. “It helped. No matter what you say, it helped. It took my mind off of you, no matter what you think. In sixth year, I was so afraid of going somewhere and – and not coming back. I was so afraid of being killed. I thought you would never be able to live with my death. But then, you – well – died, and I had no problem with going out there anymore. I knew that if I did die, you wouldn’t have to worry. I’d be with you again. And it also made me work harder. I remember how badly I wanted to get rid of Voldemort, to know that he was gone. I can still feel the anger, the horror that I felt in the hospital wing that day. It was as if – as if I’d really had parents and then they were killed all over again in front of me,” he said, his voice changing into a whisper towards the end. “I’ve never wanted anything as much as I did then. I wanted Voldemort gone. And if you hadn’t gone, then I wouldn’t have had that spirit, even though to everyone else it must have seemed like despair. Even to me it seemed like despair. I thought, at first, that nothing would ever be all right again. I gave up for a while. But then I realized that Voldemort was the cause for all of this. It just drove me harder than anything’s ever driven me in my life. So, Ginny, please don’t cry. You did the right thing. No matter how strange and wrong that sounds, you did the right thing.”

By this time she had turned her head to look up at him. Her eyes sparkled with tears still, and she saw that his did as well. “Oh, Harry,” she whispered, leaning into him. “You never told me this. Here I am, horrified by my idiocy for the past – what? Ten or fifteen years now? When you’ve been thankful all this time.”

He half-laughed, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “You know, that’s pretty much why I wanted to name our first son Peter,” he said suddenly after a brief silence.

She looked up at him, confused. “What?”

“I was so mad at Peter for betraying my parents and I hated him so much. But – but Ginny, I killed him. I killed him. I’ve never felt so horrified about anything. To take someone’s life, no matter how horrible they are, is just wrong,” he said softly. “And I know he didn’t have to turn out the way he did. There was good left in him, no matter how little. It wasn’t his fault that he turned out the way he did. And I wanted to name my son after the part of Peter that was good, so that, even though I killed him, the memory his good side and what he could have been could live on.”

They were silent for a few moments. Then Ginny leaned her head against Harry’s shoulder again and told him softly, “I never knew how much thought you put into it.”

“It’s funny, isn’t it, the things that you still don’t know after eleven years of marriage?” he asked with a smile.

She chuckled and looked back at the photo album. “Well, now that that’s settled, I think I can like this picture more,” Ginny said, lightly touching the page beside the picture of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Monica. “It is a good picture, after all.”

Harry smiled and turned the page. A loose piece of parchment fluttered out and landed in his lap. He picked it up, and Ginny watched his eyes scan it. He frowned slightly, but then smiled.

“Look,” he said softly, giving it to her. “Remember this?”

Her eyes widened as she read the poem. “Yes…”

One dark lord, a boy yet so young
locked in a war for years to come.
A scar received so long ago,
none before have been just so.
A transfer of powers, the dark lord’s bane
has been revealed: a boy seemingly plain.
But the boy has powers the dark lord knows not,
with terror and sorrow his future is wrought.
The ones he holds dearest will die by his side,
one will be driven for his safety to hide.
The scar on his forehead, like lightning is its glow,
it links to the dark lord, his thoughts does it show.
This link cannot be broken, it will always remain,
it is only this that keeps them both sane.


She turned the paper over, and just like she remembered, she saw the words, Horcrux #7, Harry Potter as she had expected.

“Where did this come from? I thought it had to stay in Dumbledore’s office?” she asked Harry.

“After Voldemort was destroyed I went back to tell his portrait. After that, I could take anything out that I wanted. I took this. I think your mum probably found it while doing the laundry or something and put it in here – I don’t remember seeing it since I put it in my pocket that day.”

She nodded, rereading the poem.

“Hang on – The ones he holds dearest will die by his side, one will be driven for his safety to hide,” Harry said suddenly. “That was talking about you! I never realized that! It was talking about you the entire time! That line’s always confused me and I never understood it before…” Harry’s voice dwindled into a whisper and Ginny chuckled.

“Yeah,” she replied. “At first, I was dead scared that Hermione, at least, would figure it out.”

“Nah, you were too good, Gin,” he said with a grin.

She laughed again. “Harry?” she suddenly asked. “It says that this link cannot be broken, it will always remain. It is only this that keeps them both sane. What does that mean? You really did kill him, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” he replied, his face serious again. “But he’s still there. In my mind. I guess that’s what the poem means – my scar’s always going to be there, and I guess what I’m linked to, since there’s obviously no Voldemort… I think it’s his memory, or something. Or what I thought of him, or what he always was to me. I dunno,” he replied. “But for the It is only this that keeps them both sane part, I think it’s true – I felt a lot more… I dunno… in control of my life when he was there. I knew where it was going, what I was doing. Without him, I feel somewhat lost, and even though I have a family, a job, a great life, I feel as if something’s missing. I think it’s like what Hermione said back then – I lost a part of me when I killed him,” he finished at a whisper.

Ginny stared at the poem for a while, then looked up at her husband. “You’ve been through too much for a person your age, Harry,” she told him. “Your whole life was built to destroy Voldemort. And you did it. It’s like you already achieved your goal in life or something. We – the rest of us – shoved the responsibility of destroying Voldemort onto you, and now that you’ve done it, it’s… Oh, it’s no use,” she sighed. “I can’t figure out how to put it.”

“It’s like you said – everything I ever did led up to me destroying him. Everything. And after that… I needed to rebuild my life and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of it, seeing as nothing in the past prepared me for anything beyond destroying him. It’s almost like – ” Here Harry chuckled. “ – everyone expected me to die trying, so they didn’t bother teaching me how to live a life. And if I didn’t have that link – that scar – holding me to the past, I don’t think I’d have been able to make it afterwards. Everything was so unfamiliar at first. I was happy – I never really knew what happy meant until then. I think I would’ve gone insane with happiness if I hadn’t had the past to think on. So the poem was right all along,” he finished. “It links me to Voldemort, and it will forever.”

Ginny smiled up at him. “I’m proud of you, you know that, right?” she asked suddenly.

“Why?” Harry asked, slightly surprised.

“We’ve just talked about almost everything you’ve ever been through, and I can see you’ve come to terms with it all. You accept it, and I can even tell you’re a bit proud. You should be. The world shoved too much responsibility onto you, and you learned to deal with it and live with it.”

He half smiled down at his wife, who was grinning up at him. “You know, when you put it that way, I do deserve to be proud. I’ll even go as far as to say if I had to go back to the beginning, I wouldn’t change a thing about how things went.”

“Not anything? Not your parents’ deaths, Sirius, or even what I did?” she asked softly.

“Nothing,” he repeated firmly. “Things might not have lead up to this moment otherwise. We’ve talked about a lot tonight, Ginny. It hasn’t been easy. But somehow, it’s made me eager for the time when Peter and Emmy will be old enough to understand everything. When we’ll be able to tell them the full story about my parents, about the war, and about you. And no matter what you say, I will repeat it – if you hadn’t gone and done your Monica thing, I would never have gotten enough determination to defeat Voldemort.”

She smiled and opened her mouth to speak.

“And before you try to contradict me again, Ginevra Molly Weasley-Potter, I’d like you to tell me the full story from the beginning so that I can make you see it from my point of view and make you understand that you were only helping by being secretly Ginny.”


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