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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.

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