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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.”

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