Ginny pulled the black dragon-hide jacket she was wearing closer about her to ward off the chill in the air. Having shed her Hogwarts professorial robes before leaving to confront her brother, she had rifled through her wardrobe attempting to find something that would pass as Muggle. She’d finally found a faded red and gold Gryffindor Quidditch jersey and pair of jeans from her days as a student and been pleased that they still fit reasonably well. Both the jeans and jersey were a bit snugger than she remembered them being, but it had been five years since she had had cause to wear Muggle clothing of any type and she was bound to have gained a few pounds since being a teenager. Digging in the bottom of the her wardrobe she had pulled out the dragon hide jacket and a pair of heavy black boots Bill had given her last Christmas and decided they would finish off the ensemble well enough.
Now she was lurking outside the public entrance to the Ministry trying to look as inconspicuous as possible and hoping that her brother left for lunch soon. She knew his favourite place to eat was a pub right around the corner from the Ministry that served the greasiest fish and chips that Ron was constantly raving about. She’d made the mistake of going to lunch there with him one day, and had barely been able to swallow the salty, oleaginous mess in a basket that had been tossed on the table. He had finished both his lunch and hers, and she knew the only reason he had invited her was with the idea in mind that he’d have two lunches that day. His wife, Hermione, had warned her and if Ginny had had sense, she would have saved herself an upset stomach and ordered the Ploughman’s Lunch instead.
Today, she had used her gift and was nearly a hundred percent certain her brother would dine at the local pub, where everybody by now knew his name. She shifted her weight as she leaned against the wall opposite a row of fireplaces located at the back of a coffeehouse and avoided making eye contact with most of the Muggles who walked by. A few men whistled appreciatively at her as they passed, causing her cheeks to burn even as she gave them a menacing look that sent them scurrying on their way, whatever thoughts passing through their minds quickly evaporating.
She was beginning to wonder if she had been mistaken about her brother when she finally spotted his head of bright red hair stepping out of a grate and bobbing above all the other Ministry workers going to lunch. At six feet two inches, Ron towered over most people. Add that to his broad shoulders and brawny arms and legs, and he struck an impressive figure, especially when wearing his Auror uniform. At the moment he had shed the dark blue cloak Aurors normally wore and strode towards her wearing a neatly pressed white dress shirt and dark blue trousers (Hermione’s handy-work, no doubt). His dark blue silk tie was knotted with a perfect double Windsor knot and his black loafers shined so brightly they reflected the pale noon day sun.
Waving, Ginny caught his attention immediately and he smiled broadly as he approached her.
“Ginny,” he said in surprise as he pulled her into a tight hug. “I wasn’t expecting to see you standing out here, looking like a...” he held her at arm’s length to study her outfit, and his mouth formed a grim line as his eyes narrowed. “Like a biker punk.”
“What’s a biker punk?” Ginny asked.
“Dunno, it’s a Muggle thing,” Ron said with a shrug, “So, what brings you here? Want to try the fish and chips again?”
“Ergh, no,” she responded, pulling a face, before looking up at her brother seriously. “I need to talk to you.”
“All right,” Ron said, immediately catching on to her tone, “Let’s go to the pub and we can find a quiet booth there to talk.”
They walked quickly around the corner, and from the odd looks they were receiving, Ginny deduced they made a strange duo. She was glad when they reached The Wolf and Jury and Ron pulled the thick oak door open by the brass handle. A brass bell above the door tinkled as they entered. Brass wall sconces made to look like turn of the century gas lamps hung on the walls over the booths that sat opposite a long bar. A few patrons sat at a couple of the booths, but the pub was surprisingly quiet. The whitewashed walls, along with all the brass lended a brightness to the pub, even on the darkest of days.
A lone barkeep, with cropped brown hair and watery blue eyes stepped out of the swinging doors that led to the kitchen behind the bar, cleaning a pint glass with a cloth; an action it seemed all bartenders did whenever they didn’t have anything better to do. He waved cheerily over at Ron when he saw who had entered.
“Hello, Ron!” he called, his eyes lighting up when he saw Ginny. “And you brought your lovely sister with ya’!”
“Don’t get any ideas, Simon,” Ron growled, causing Ginny to roll her eyes.
“Didn’t have none, I promise,” Simon declared.
“Bring us some water?” Ron called and Ginny raised an eyebrow at her brother as he steered her towards a booth in the back.
“Don’t go Auror on me, big brother. I can take care of myself.”
“I told you you looked too sexy,” Ron muttered as she slipped into one side of the booth and he the other.
“That’s not what you said,” Ginny said, scowling over at her brother.
“It’s what I meant,” Ron muttered, taking a menu from the holder by the wall and shoving it towards her. “I already know what I want.”
Ginny sighed. “Don’t pout, Ron. I can’t help I grew up. So did you.” She glanced over at him. “I never thought I’d see you looking so put together.”
“You can thank Hermione for that,” Ron said. “She doesn’t let me leave the house until I meet her exacting standards.”
“It looks good on you,” Ginny commented, looking over the menu.
Ron’s cheeks flushed slightly. “Thanks. So,” he began slowly, “what did you need to see me about? Don’t you have classes this afternoon?”
“Just sixth years in Double Divination,” Ginny explained. “I set them to meditate and write a five foot essay on what they experience.”
“That sounds excruciating,” Ron said, pulling a face and Ginny snorted.
“Just because you thought taking Divination would bring you an easy O.W.L., Ron, doesn’t mean that is why everyone takes it,” Ginny scolded. “My sixth years are dedicated to honing their craft. They won’t have any problem writing the essays.”
“If you say so,” Ron commented as Simon approached with the water Ron had requested.
“Can I take your order, miss?” he asked politely after setting the glasses down on the table.
Quickly scanning the menu, Ginny ordered the cottage pie and Ron ordered his usual.
“It’ll be out shortly,” Simon said cheerily before retreating behind the bar and disappearing through the swinging doors.
“So, what did you want to see me about?” Ron asked again, taking a long draught of his water.
“I had a vision this morning,” Ginny said. “Vivid and disturbing.”
“About what?” Ron warily asked.
“About a case I think you may be working on,” Ginny stated.
“Hold on a moment,” her brother said, looking quickly around the pub before unsheathing his wand from his sleeve under the table. He cast a silent Muffliato over the table before continuing to speak. “What have you seen?”
“A woman, violated,” Ginny replied with a shudder. “From the colour of her aura, I think she was a Slytherin, but I can’t be certain, her face wasn’t clear. Why doesn’t the article in the paper mention either of those things? In fact, the article blatantly says she was not sexually molested, Ron! That’s a lie, I know it!”
Ron sighed. “I’m not heading the case, so I don’t talk to the press, Ginny, but what does it matter?”
“Because!” Ginny exclaimed as Ron waved his hands at her to lower her voice even though his spell still surrounded them. “Because, the public deserves to know the truth.”
“We don’t have any leads, at all, and not much hope of getting any,” Ron softly confessed. “There weren’t any concrete clues left at the crime scene and Robards is already threatening to call it a cold case unless we can come up with something. Why cause undue concern until we have to?”
“I suppose you are right,” Ginny conceded. “But it’s a horrific crime.”
“I know,” Ron glumly stated. “That’s why it’s frustrating that we have nothing to go on.”
Simon appeared at the table, holding a tray laden with their order and looking confused. “Were you just talking to me?” he asked.
“No,” Ron said calmly, and with a slight motion of his arm under the table, Ginny knew he was dropping the spell surrounding them. Simon visibly eased. He placed a basket laden with greasy fish and chips in front of Ron and a plain white crock containing Ginny’s cottage pie.
“Enjoy!” he said cheerily before leaving them to their meal.
Ginny poked at her pie with her fork, mixing the mashed potatoes with the beef and vegetables beneath. Steam rose from the crock as she took a tiny bite, only to find it nearly as greasy as Ron’s meal looked. She quickly took a drink from her glass, which thankfully was cool and washed most of the taste away.
“You’re spoiled by the food at Hogwarts,” Ron commented, taking a large bite of his fish.
“I suppose,” she agreed, shoving the crock towards him. “Listen, Ron. I want to help.”
Ron looked over at her. “What? Finish my lunch?”
“No,” Ginny said exasperated. “With the case. Let me help you.”
He shook his head. “Why? You gave up doing that, remember? When you realized it was futile to try to change the future?”
His eyes filled with a deep sadness, and blinking rapidly, he looked out the window for a moment, collecting himself. She knew he was thinking, as she was of their brother, Fred. He and his twin, George had been class clowns while at Hogwarts, but also brilliant inventors and spell casters. While at school they had started a mail-order jokes catalogue and she had known then they were destined to be successful business entrepreneurs. However, not long before they finished their final year at Hogwarts, the war against Voldemort took a turn for the worse, and they decided to join Professor Dumbledore’s secret army, the Order of the Phoenix. Their mum had been beside herself, saying it was bad enough their older brothers, Bill and Charlie, along with their father were involved with the Order, but Fred and George would hear nothing of it.
Not long after, Ginny experienced a nightmare where she witnessed Fred falling to his death from what she thought was one of the towers at Hogwarts. She had begged him never to return to Hogwarts, telling him of her vision and he had agreed, but soon after she saw him step into a street in London to be struck by a bus. No matter what she did to warn him of his imminent death, she would see him die some other way. Finally, he had told her that it was clear there was no way to prevent the inevitable and he didn’t want to live the rest of his life trying to do so. In the end he had died during the Final Battle, struck down while defending a group of fleeing under-aged students at Hogwarts. His death had given them the time they needed to escape unscathed, and Fred had died a hero.
“I know,” Ginny sighed. “But this isn’t about changing anyone’s future. This is about catching a killer.”
“I don’t know, Ginny,” Ron said uncertainly.
“You just said you don’t have any leads and not much hope of finding any,” Ginny pressed. “I’m that hope.”
Ron thought her offer over while he finished his lunch as well as hers. Ginny waited patiently, looking out the window next to their table and watching the Muggles walking past. Most looked harried, probably having taken too long at lunch and now rushing back to work before they were too late. Others strolled slowly along the sidewalk, clearly with no place in particular they needed to be.
“All right,” Ron finally conceded, wiping his mouth with his napkin before dropping it in his empty chips basket. “I’ll go back to the office and see if I can talk the Senior Auror on the case into coming to speak with you.”
“Why would you have to talk him into it?” Ginny asked. “If he doesn’t have any leads, you’d think he’d be happy for the help.”
“Not this bloke,” Ron said, studying his sister. “He doesn’t have the best track record with seers. Actually, he can’t stand them.”
“Why’s that?” Ginny asked.
“I don’t know,” Ron said. “He’s not exactly forthcoming with details about himself, I’ve just heard it through the rumour mill.”
“You’ll have to convince him to give me a chance,” Ginny stated firmly. “I know I can help you, Ron.”
Her brother nodded, pulling his wallet from his trouser pocket and taking out a thin plastic card she knew was a Muggle form of payment. Waving at Simon, the bartender came over and accepted the card, retreating behind the bar to swipe it next to something that looked like a television set. He returned with a small tray that contained the card Ron had given him along with a slip of paper and a pen.
Ron signed the paper, and pocketing the card, thanked Simon for the excellent lunch. He then escorted Ginny silently outside and they headed towards the public Apparition point that was located near the fireplaces Ginny had been loitering by earlier.
“I’ll try to stop by Hogwarts later this afternoon,” Ron said as they approached the Ministry entrance. “We have some paper work we have to do, but that shouldn’t take too long. If I can convince him, we’ll be around about four. All right?”
“That’s fine,” Ginny said. “I’ll be in my classroom, grading papers. I’ll see you later.”
She gave him a hug before stepping onto the Apparition point. Waving a final good-bye she spun away just as Ron was turning to head back to the Ministry. As he was fading from her view Ginny realized that not only had he not told her who the Senior Auror on the case was, but try as she might, she couldn’t see the man for herself either.
When she returned to Hogwarts, classes were just finishing up for the day and students were streaming outside to enjoy the last few hours of the afternoon before supper. A few gave her odd looks at her attire, but she smiled brightly at them and headed directly towards her classroom. She was bit disconcerted that she could not see Ron’s partner, but she wasn’t too concerned. Sometimes it was more difficult to see someone she had never met, but that would soon change in just a few hours if all went well on Ron’s end.
Putting it from her mind for the time being, Ginny settled at her desk, opened her desk drawer and removed the pile of parchment from her first class of the day and began looking over the predictions. She was about half-way through the pile when a soft knock came at the trap door.
“Come in,” she called, shoving the pile of parchment aside and looking at the door expectantly. The door opened, and Ron’s head popped into view.
“Hello, Ginny,” he greeted. “I brought someone for you to meet.”
He climbed into the room and immediately moved to the side to allow the Auror behind him to enter. The first thing she noticed was a mass of messy black hair hanging down into a disconcertingly familair pair of green eyes glinting behind silver, wire-framed glasses that appeared above the trap door. While her brother cut an impressive figure in his dark blue Auror robes and pressed shirt and trousers, his partner looked little better than a dishevelled school boy as he climbed all the way into her classroom. As a matter of fact, if Ginny hadn't already known Ron would be stopping by with the Senior Auror on the case, she would have thought the man with him was nothing more than an under-achieving seventh year. It looked as though he had slept in his wrinkled blue robes and his sloppily knotted dark blue tie had been loosened and the top two buttons of his dress shirt undone. A tail of the shirt hung out over his navy trousers that hung loosely on his narrow hips and she followed his long legs down to a pair of scuffed trainers. He seemed to be a few inches shorter than her brother, but it was hard to tell with his bad posture.
“Er, Ginny,” Ron began waving his arm towards her. “This is Auror Harry Potter. Harry, this is my sister, Ginny, Ginny Weasley.”
Ginny’s eyes widened and automatically flicked to the thick shock of fringe covering his forehead and she thought his untidy hair may be somewhat deliberate, as she could not see his infamous lightning bolt scar. Her cheeks coloured as she realized she had done what probably every single person before her had done when first introduced to him.
Harry gruffly nodded in her general direction, appearing not to notice her staring as he slouched further into the room, his eyes roving about him. She had the distinct impression he was cataloguing all points of exit and entry. She raised her eyebrows at her brother, who merely shrugged, and remained standing by the door.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Auror Potter."
Rising from her chair, Ginny moved around her desk with her hand outstretched to greet Harry properly, but froze when his eyes finally alighted upon her and he took her proffered hand.
She had hoped once she touched him she would gain a better sense of who he was as a person, but she was shocked to find out she couldn’t read him at all. It was like he was a blank slate, as empty as her future seemed to be any time she tried to see her destiny. Gazing into his eyes, she realized why they seemed so familiar, and she gripped his hand tighter. He was the boy she had seen die countless of times, but somehow, until this moment, even after seeing his pictures in the papers, she had never realized Harry Potter was the boy from her very first vision.
Gasping, she saw him standing alone in a clearing, his wand hanging limply at his side. His face showed resignation and weariness, and she knew he wanted to die. His desperation for it to be finished hung in the air of the clearing. Indistinct taunts from the Dark Lord carried to Harry's ears, but he refused to rise to the bait and eventually, dropped his wand to the ground. Enraged, the Dark Lord hissed the Killing Curse and Harry's eyes widened in fear and surprise as the curse struck him square in the chest. He was enveloped in a sickly green light and falling backward, his body hit the ground with a soft thud. His amazingly green eyes stared sightlessly up at the tall trees above his head. Cackling laughter filled the air, followed by screaming, but all Ginny could see was the young boy, barely eighteen laying on the ground, dead. You couldn’t escape death.
The man standing before her was far from eighteen, and must be closer to his mid twenties. It was impossible for him to still be alive, because even if he had managed to avoid the death she had foreseen, some other end would have found him by now. Fred’s demise was evidence enough of that.
“Is she all right?” Harry was asking, looking over his shoulder at Ron and attempting to extract his hand from her grip.
“Ginny,” Ron said slowly, moving forward and tugging gently on her arm.
Coming to her senses, Ginny allowed the hand still holding Harry’s to fall to her side and he began flexing his fingers to regain feeling.
“That was some show,” he said sourly, “but I’m going to need more proof than you going all starry-eyed holding my hand and ‘reading’ me. Want to tell me what you think you saw?”
Ginny shook her head. “Nothing, I didn’t see anything.”
Harry snorted in derision, “Figures. No one ever does.”
“Do you mean seers in general or anyone attempting to read you?” Ginny asked, wondering if he had gone to seers in the past and been disappointed that they couldn’t read him, as she could not.
“I don’t make it a habit of seeking seers out, if that is what you are implying,” Harry said defensively, giving Ginny and her classroom another once over. “You don’t look much like a seer to me, anyway.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ginny asked, her eyes beginning to blaze as her momentary disconcertedness faded.
“We don’t need to,” Ron began, only to be interrupted by Harry.
“I mean, where’s the incense, lace and chiffon?” Harry asked. “I’ve never met a seer before who wore dragon hide jackets and boots.”
Ginny eyed him scathingly, “I take offense to that remark, and I could say the same about you. Isn’t there a dress code at the Auror office?”
“I meet the dress code,” he said defensively, tugging on his tie, loosening it even more before ruffling his hair in frustration. “Look, your brother says you are the real deal. I happen to think highly of him and thought it was worth a shot. Do you want to accompany us to the abduction scene or not?”
Ginny blinked dumbly at him, his sudden turn in conversation blind-siding her from any further caustic remarks she had on the tip of her tongue.
“You know where the abduction site is?” she asked incredulously. “Ron said you didn’t have any leads.”
Harry shot Ron a hard look that caused him to shift uncomfortably on his feet as an apologetic look crossed her brother’s face.
“We have an idea,” Harry ground out. “We were going to check it out when your brother suggested taking you along. Do you want to come or not?”
“Of course,” Ginny immediately answered, moving towards the door. “Where are we going?”
“I’d rather not give you any more details,” Harry evasively replied, his lips curving up into an acerbic smile. “I’d like to see what you come up with all on your own.”
Stepping out of the grate at the Leaky Cauldron, Ginny was surprised to see Ron and Harry standing by the door that led to Muggle London instead of the back entrance to Diagon Alley, further confirming her thought that it was indeed a Muggle site. Weaving through the tables she joined them by the door, refraining from saying anything, but feeling slightly uncomfortable at the way Harry was silently observing her as he held the door open. Not being able to tell what a person was thinking or feeling was throwing her off her game. Ron's feelings were evident enough. Ginny could feel his anxiety to come up with some concrete evidence they could present to their superior officer, as well as his apprehension and guilt at agreeing to let her help them.
Harry's green eyes were as emotionless as his aura and she shivered slightly underneath his piercing gaze. Ignoring him as best she could, she moved past him and exited the Leaky Cauldron to stand in the middle of the pavement. A few Muggles walked past, oblivious to the door Ginny had just exited from and which Ron and Harry were now emerging. The two Aurors stood against the wall, allowing the Muggles to pass, but Ginny remained rooted to the spot. She was already gaining a sense that the abduction had happened right where she was standing.
Turning slowly in a circle, she surveyed the surroundings. A nondescript black car was parked at the curb directly in front of the pub and several others were parked further down the narrow road of Charing Cross. Closing her eyes, she opened the channels within her and immediately felt the psychokinetic disturbances that still hung in the air.
“I see a lorry,” Ginny murmured, “parked near where this black car is now.”
“What colour?” Harry’s voice sounded from a distance.
Ginny strained to see the colour of the lorry. Its image wavered before her. “Light. White, perhaps. There is writing on the side.”
“What does it say?” Harry asked.
Ginny shook her head. “It’s blurry and there is a figure of a man leaning against it, blocking the lettering. He’s talking to her. She knows him.”
“What’s he look like?” Ron excitedly asked.
“It’s too dark to see,” Ginny replied apologetically. “The light from the streetlamp across the street is casting him in shadow.” She watched as the shadowy man casually drew his wand.
“He’s a wizard. She’s backing towards the door to the Leaky Cauldron, but he’s too quick. He Disarms and Stuns her. He’s dragging her to the back of the lorry, there’s some sort of large box on the back he’s locking her inside. His spell has worn off and she’s screaming, but no one can hear her outside the box. Ah, he’s driving away. I can’t, can’t read the writing, it’s too dark. I’m sorry.”
Ginny opened her eyes to find both Harry and Ron staring at her. Ron was nodding his head in approval while Harry looked somewhat shaken and surprisingly enough, disappointed.
“Damn,” he softly uttered.
She wasn't sure if his curse was because he was dismayed at the lack of information she had been able to give them or because he was shocked to find that she may actually have the gift of sight. Either way, she took it as a positive step.
"Let me, let me try again," Ginny said, closing her eyes and replaying the scenario in her mind's eye. She tried to see the lorry from a different angle as it sped away. The light from the street lamp flashed across the side revealing faded blue lettering. Rewinding the scene, she attempted to slow the vision down. Ron was murmuring worriedly behind her, and she felt his hands reaching for her, but she irritably batted them away.
The lorry slowed significantly as it passed her the second time around, and she was able to determine its colour.
"It's definitely white," she muttered. The light again flickered over the side of the vehicle, and squinting, Ginny strained to make out what it said. "I see blue letters. A... capital B and a... k." The truck disappeared down the road and Ginny blew her breathe out in frustration. "I'm sorry, that's all I could make out."
“But it’s something,” Ron said, turning to his partner. “More than we had.”
“But not enough,” Harry ground out. “There must be thousands of white lorries in London alone.”
“How many wizards do you know drive lorries?” Ron asked.
“It’s not that easy, and you know it,” Harry replied. “We have a vehicle, but we don’t have a suspect.”
He stepped away from the door to the tavern and approached the black car Ginny was standing by. Unsheathing his wand from his sleeve, he unlocked the driver's side door before opening the back door.
“Let’s go for a ride,” he said, indicating that Ginny should sit in the back seat.
“Where are we going now?” she asked.
“To the crime scene,” Harry replied and Ginny felt a trickle of fear run down her back.
"In a car?" she nervously asked. She had never ridden in a car before; the idea was completely foreign to her. Her father had tinkered with a car when she was a girl, but Fred and George had borrowed it one evening not long after their father had repaired it, and managed to crash it into a Muggle’s mailbox who lived down the lane. Her mum had made their father get rid of the car before anyone else had had a chance to go for a ride in it.
”Why can't we Apparate there?"
"Because the killer drove there, and it's in a highly populated Muggle area," Harry explained. "As a matter of fact, I don't think there are any Wizard-folk registered living there." He appeared to notice Ginny's apprehension and attempted to ease her fear.
"Don't worry, this car has been modified to avoid the traffic. We'll be there in no time, and then it will be like a leisurely drive in the countryside. Right, Ron?"
"Right, nothing to worry about," Ron assured. "It's no more dangerous than riding a broom, Ginny, and you're an expert at that."
Harry's interest was piqued by this statement and he turned back to Ginny who shrugged. "I played Quidditch while at school. Seeker," she finished lamely, wondering why she was even telling Harry any of her past history.
"You must be a fair flyer, then," he said approvingly. "Sorry, but car is still the best way to get there."
He continued to hold the door open and waited patiently for Ginny to collect herself and clamber clumsily into the back seat. She scowled at the smirk that had appeared on Harry's face, but he didn't seem to care about her annoyance, and slammed the door shut. He opened the driver's door and slid gracefully behind the wheel, causing her to glower at him further, but her brother distracted her, by turning around in his seat after he had climbed in the car.
"Fasten your seatbelt, Ginny," he said, pointing to the strange buckles that lay on the seat beside her. She picked them up and pulled them onto her lap. Her father had similar contraptions in his shed at home, and she vaguely remembered how they worked. After a minute of fumbling, she managed to hear the click informing her she had successfully latched the two bits together about her waist.
Harry waved his wand over the wheel in front of him, bringing the car to life. It hummed quietly, and Ginny felt her body vibrating slightly. Pulling slowly away from the curb, Harry adjusted the rear-view mirror until she could see his eyes looking at her.
"Hold on tight," he warned and with a sudden jolt, the car lurched forward.
Ginny couldn't help the small shriek that escaped her lips as her body was pressed back into the seat as the buildings blurred outside the car windows. Ginny squeezed her eyes shut for a moment as they whisked past cars that appeared to be standing still in the road. They hurtled along, swerving rapidly to the right and left, her body swaying back and forth with the motion of the car. After becoming acclimated to the strange sensation, she risked opening her eyes and focused on the street lamps, shop signs, and traffic lights. They were nothing more than intermittent streaks of coloured light streaming past the windows until they disappeared completely and the car was outside the city and travelling along darkening, country roads.
She relaxed as the car appeared to slow down to a more normal pace and the ride became, as Harry had said, a leisurely drive. She unclenched her fists, that she hadn't even realized had been closed tightly in the first place and rubbed her sweaty palms along the tops of her thighs. Placing her hands on the supple leather of the seat, she looked out the window at the passing countryside. Rain clouds were rolling in over the horizon, obscuring the setting sun. On both sides of the road were open pastures, butting up to a scraggly forest.
Ginny audibly inhaled as they suddenly turned onto a rutted, dirt lane, and bounced along heading towards a portion of the forest.
"All right, Ginny?" Ron asked with concern, and turned to glance over his shoulder at her.
She nodded. "We're getting close."
Harry looked at her sharply in the rear-view mirror, but refrained from saying anything, for which Ginny was glad, as she wasn’t certain she could formulate any more coherent sentences. She could feel the darkness of the area seeping into her and closed her eyes. She could imagine the lorry barrelling down this lane and could feel the faint echoes of the woman's mounting terror, locked in a dark box, with no idea what was going to happen to her, and being jostled around unforgivably.
The lane narrowed as the trees surrounded them, and after another half mile, the car came to a stop. The feelings of terror and hatred were heavy in the air around them, and Ginny took a moment to collect herself and the images accosting her.
Ron and Harry stepped out of the car, and as her brother moved around the front of the car, Harry opened her door. Blinking up at him, Ginny was surprised to see him holding out his hand to help her out of the car. Hesitantly, she reached up and took his hand for the second time that day. She felt an odd sensation swoop through her, settling into the pit of her stomach.
“Take your time,” he said, as if he somehow could sense her sudden discomfort, and gently tugged on her arm. Ginny followed the pull of his hand and slipped off the seat to stand by the open door. Once she was standing, he dropped her hand and went to speak with Ron, leaving her feeling oddly disappointed. She wanted to contemplate the strange feelings, but the awful visions of the murder were weighing down upon her now that she was standing in the middle of the forest. It was all she could focus on and the fleeting feeling holding Harry’s hand had caused faded.
Walking slowly away from the car, she paused a moment to get her bearings. The murmuring voices of the two Aurors faded as she entered the past and began moving through the forest.
Again she could hear the woman's ragged breathing up ahead of her. She had managed to break free of her pursuer, no, that wasn't right. He let her go, knowing there was nowhere she could run, and wanting to enjoy the chase. He wanted her to feel the terror of being hunted down like an animal; like something less than human.
Her screams echoed through the silent forest, stirring up wildlife around her. A small rabbit sprang from its hiding place amongst the brush and an owl swooped out of the trees above in pursuit. They both disappeared into the darkness, but not long after a sharp squeal told her the rabbit had been ensnared in the sharp talons of the owl. Lights flashed across Ginny's eyes, momentarily blinding her.
"Somebody help me!" the woman ahead of her futilely screamed, perhaps not realizing that a Muggle in a passing car would never hear her.
A flash of red streaked through the forest, striking the fleeing woman and causing her to stumble to the ground.
"He struck her down here," Ginny said out loud, knowing her brother and Harry were silently following her.
Ginny moved forward a few more paces before kneeling down and touching the earth.
"Here," she said. "It happened here."
The woman was pleading, as the killer wrenched her thick dark brown hair tighter, exposing her throat. His wand illuminated the terrified brown eyes and button nose of the woman and Ginny’s eyes widened in shock.
“It’s Daphne Greengrass!” she whispered. Ginny’s stomach churned with revulsion at what the former Slytherin had been put through and her own combating emotion that Daphne deserved to be tortured and murdered. She had been one of the prettiest girls in the school, and many boys, not just Slytherins had fancied her. She had taunted Ginny on many occasions. It had been bad enough when Daphne was making fun of her pale skin, freckles and flaming red hair, but once she began having ‘episodes’ before she had learned to control her gift, the teasing had turned cruel. Of course, Ginny hadn’t been alone, as Daphne and her clique had tormented anyone they thought was remotely different.
“We didn’t release a name to the press,” Harry muttered behind Ginny, drawing her back to the nearer present and the images she was receiving.
“She’s begging,” Ginny continued. Raindrops began falling, dripping down from the trees and trickling on her scalp, but she was lost in the vision. She felt the killer pushing Daphne back against the soggy ground and the woman’s screams once again pierced the air around them. Ginny cried as she felt phantom slashes against her chest and abdomen, and her hands flailed in front of her futilely trying to ward off the spells. His face loomed before her eyes, blurred. Reluctantly, she rewound the scene and once again attempted to slow down the images bombarding her. She choked as she felt the slashes once again, and this time also felt warm blood seeping out of the numerous wounds.
With her chest heaving as she panted for breath, Ginny looked up to see the silhouette of the killer. It was hard to make out his features in the dim light from his wand, but she saw long hair framing a thin, sallow face. His hands closed around Daphne’s neck, physically squeezing the life out of her.
“He’s average height, thin, long hair,” she heaved before she collapsed to the damp earth.