WOGW: Chapter Two: The Devil’s Snare

It was James’s delighted peal of laughter that broke through Ginny’s sad remembrances this time, and made her think again about how much she was going to miss him. She was thinking dismally about how it would feel to miss so many of his crucial developments as she stood up to get ready, glancing over at the time as she did so.

“Damn,” she said, hurriedly yanking clothes out of the closet. She only had ten minutes to get to work. Jordana hated it when any of the players were late and it didn’t seem wise to test her patience on the first day back.

“Cutting it really fine, Weasley,” Tougas said irritably when Ginny raced into the room a few minutes later, trying to pull on one of her boots. .

“I know, I know,” she replied impatiently as she caught James up in her arms again and hugged him tightly. Now it had come to it, she didn’t want to leave him. She had a bad feeling about it.

“We’ll be fine,” Molly said, correctly interpreting Ginny’s hesitation.

“Yeah.” With the utmost reluctance, Ginny gave James over to her mother again, and then she ruffled his hair. Despite the annoyingly indulgent smile on her mother’s face, Ginny started to say something about when James should go down for a nap, but she had barely started when Tougas pushed past her.

“We’ll be fine, Ginny,” Molly said again. “I have done this a few times, remember.”

“But I haven’t, and . . .“ Ginny fell silent, unable to translate into words exactly how she was feeling.

Whatever her worries were for the safety of her flat, Ginny was running very late now and she couldn’t dawdle anymore, so she ruffled James’s hair one more time, thanked her mother again for watching him, and hurried after a very grouchy looking Tougas, who was holding the door open. She grabbed the small handbag containing her Quidditch things (she really had to thank Hermione again for showing her that Undetectable Extension Charm) before following him into the hall.

“You act like I have unlimited time to stand around and wait for you,” he said, leading the way down the first flight of stairs.

“And you act as if I beg you to come over every morning,” Ginny responded promptly, pulling her arm into her jacket and zipping it up. She thought she saw Tougas’s jaw tighten, but they were turning the corner to head down the second set of stairs and were stopped short by the sight of several precariously balanced towers of boxes that were blocking the stairs.

“Bloody hell!” It was very like Mr. and Mrs. Cavil to block the stairs, not considering that anyone else might want to leave the building.

Tougas tried to negotiate a small path between the unsteady piles and sent both of them crashing to the ground, causing the others to cascade to the floor in a giant heap.

“What do you think you’re doing?” cried Mrs. Cavil, hurrying out of the flat with her cane raised like a sword, and for a minute Ginny thought she was going to run Tougas through with it, but she satisfied herself with a contemptuous look.

“Good morning, Mrs, Cavil,” Ginny said, wading through the mess of boxes. The elderly woman’s frown increased when she laid eyes on Ginny. She opened her mouth, surely to utter some new insult, but Ginny stopped her. “So sorry about the mess, but we’re in a hurry. I have to get to work, you see.” And she was out the door before anything else could be said.

The chilly December air blew around them as they exited the building, whipping Ginny’s hair and making the tall cedars sway. She looked up at them, feeling a swelling in the pit of her stomach that she didn’t understand for a moment, before she remembered her dream from that morning. That recollection made her turn her head to the right, as though she expected to see Harry hiding behind the nearest cedar.

“Come on,” Tougas said impatiently, grabbing her arm to prevent her stopping. Ginny reacted immediately, snatching her arm back and drawing her wand.

“Don’t grab me,” she said forcefully, her heart rate increasing as she took several steps backward not taking her eyes off Tougas. His expression slid from impatience to angry confusion and then to understanding. It was this last that Ginny liked least. She hated the fact that so many people knew about what had happened with Harry’s foul cousin, and she didn’t need any of the consoling words she could see Tougas struggling to utter.

“You startled me,” she said, striding past him before he could say anything.

They didn’t talk much as they headed out of the courtyard and walked down the street to an alley just beyond the borders of the enchantments the Aurors had set up the previous year. As they passed through the last, Ginny looked back as though she could see the border. She was starting to feel jittery again.

“You’re sure the protections are still working?” she asked.

“They were checked this morning, like always. That is why I come, you know,” Tougas said. He stopped walking when they were out of sight of the buildings across the street. “It’s not because I fancy you, I promise.”

“You heard that?” she asked, feeling her face heat up despite the cold air swirling around them. Her mother was responsible for putting that smug smile on his face; Ginny felt like turning back and cursing her for it. Instead she said, “Then you should have heard what I said to her. I know all about you and Briony. And in case you’ve forgotten, I also fancy someone else.” She held up her left hand.

Tougas looked quickly at the ring and then away, his jaw clench like it had done on the stairs, and she wondered for a second if he was going to say something, but he didn’t.

“Let’s go.” His arm jerked like he was going to grab hers again, but seemed to think better of it, and Disapparated. Ginny quickly followed, hoping Tougas saw fit to return to the Ministry directly rather than accompany her to the stadium.

Ever since the unfortunate incident in which Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy had stormed the pitch and abducted Colin Creevey, security had been tightened, meaning no one could Apparate directly inside, but rather to a spot several hundred yards away. Ginny landed precisely and paused to get her bearings.

Now fifteen minutes late, Ginny knew that Jordana was going to do her nut, so she didn’t stop too long. The dark green stadium loomed larger than she remembered, the gold edges glittering in the sun; the clouds that had hung over her flat in London hadn’t travelled this far yet. She was watching the clouds as she neared the door and was brought to another stop by several flashes of bright light. She raised her hand to shield her eyes and heard several gasps from the crowd surrounding her. They seemed to have sprung from nowhere and were closing in.

“Clear off you lot. Now.”

Tougas had appeared out of nowhere, startling everyone, including Ginny. She didn’t even protest when he grabbed her arm for the second time and pulled her through the crowd of people, keeping his wand raised. The crowd parted easily, most keeping their eyes fixed nervously on his wand. One man, however, was holding a camera like the one so often used by Daily Prophet reporters. He was a powerfully built man with neatly trimmed brown hair and a long scar down his left cheek. He smirked as they passed and was still doing so when Ginny glanced back before entering the building. She felt a shiver run down her spine.

“D’you know who that man is?” Ginny asked, searching her brain because she suddenly felt as though she’d seen him somewhere before.

“Reporter from the looks of it,” Tougas said with the merest half-glance. He pulled open the door and marched inside.

“Funny that he hasn’t taken a single picture since we arrived though, isn’t it?” This curious behaviour coupled with the fact that she knew all of the photographers from the Prophet caused the hairs on her arms to stand on edge. But then it occurred to her that there might be a less sinister reason he wasn’t behaving like a real photographer: he might be a fan posing as a Prophet employee to try and get in. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had tried that ruse.

“Thanks,” Ginny said when they had reached the safety, though hardly less hectic inside of the stadium. People were running to and fro and there was a nervous energy in the air, the sort that usually preceded a match.

“I got a message to meet Rossi here,” Tougas said, sounding angry again. “Apparently he foresaw you losing your head.”

Ginny snatched her arm away furiously, and started to reach for her wand, any number of curses occurring to her. He was only spared by someone running past, carrying dozens of small scrolls under each arm.

“You’d better go find out what Rossi wants then and get on with your busy day,” Ginny said contemptuously as they reached the changing rooms at last. She didn’t wait for him to reply, instead she pushed the door open, and hurried in, already starting to issue an apology for her lateness.

Even before turning the corner she could tell something was wrong. The changing room was generally filled with sounds of laughter or, on game days, nervous excitement with everyone talking over each other. She could still hear them talking but the voices were hushed, like they were standing next to someone’s sickbed. Feeling her heart rate increase again, Ginny hurried round the corner, pulling out her wand as she did so.

Five members of the team were standing in a semi-circle, their backs to her. They were all looking at something that Ginny couldn’t see. Fearing the worst she lengthened her stride and within a few short seconds was able to see what had so thoroughly captured their attention.

One of the seven lockers the players used to store their equipment was hanging open, and snake-like tendrils of some sort of plant were spilling out, dripping a substance that looked like blood onto the floor. Something was sitting in the centre and seemed to be the source of all the blood, but Ginny couldn’t see it properly. She moved forward several inches to get a better view and her breath caught, alerting the others to her presence.

“Is that . . . “ she asked, turning away from the severed head of the Harpies Seeker.

“No, it’s not,” Gwenog Jones replied. “Keddle’s fine. Pretty shaken up though. She’s in the office with Jordana, talking to that Auror, Rossi I think his name was.”

The other four team members nodded mutely.

“What is all this?” Ginny asked, unsure whether she wanted to move closer to examine the macabre display, or turn around and vomit.

“Some nutter’s taken a fancy to her, and thinks this is amusing, that’s what,” said Ginny’s fellow Chaser Alannah King viciously.

“What?”

“It’s true,” Gwenog said in a sad voice, glancing at the display with a loathsome look on her face. “She’d been going on about it for months, how she thought that someone was following her, and just as we were entering finals last year she was convinced that someone had been in her flat.”

“We thought it was just the pressure of the finals, after how hard we worked, you know,” said Sandy Dylan, their Keeper.

The team had made it to the semi-finals for the second year in a row, but it had been a hard won battle, with several more losses than they’d had in previous years. Gwenog and King were superb Chasers, but they hadn’t been able to compensate for the ineptitudes of Rhea Jordan, Ginny’s replacement. Watching or hearing about their abysmal performances had always made Ginny squirm with guilt, wondering if they would have lost so bad had she been playing. She had attributed Keddle’s frustration to their poor performance, but now she knew better.

Ginny joined the other members of the team in silent contemplation of the crime scene. She hadn’t been around Keddle or the rest of the team for the better part of a year, but suddenly she remembered a significant flower delivery that Keddle received. It had been during the time she was still with the team, and the arrangement had been large, cumbersome and rather annoyed Jordanda. Had that been the start of it all? Straining her memory, Ginny was frustrated to find that she couldn’t recall a lot of the specifics, but as she tried the face of the scarred man swam in front of her.

Thinking that he might still be outside the stadium, and that he was definitely worth investigation, Ginny broke ranks and headed for Jordana’s office door just as it opened. Tougas and Rossi exited first, followed by an obviously shaken Keddle who was supported by Adrasteia Gerard – the healer Ginny had seen when she was pregnant with James and since befriended. Jordana was the last to exit, looking a little shaken herself.

“That man outside with the scar on his face,” Ginny said, addressing Tougas without giving him the chance to leave. “He did seem overly pleased. D’you think -”

“Who was this?” Rossi asked sharply, looking from Ginny to Tougas.

“Some reporter,” Tougas replied, waving his hand dismissively.

“So you think,” Ginny said, angrily, her own eyes traveling back to Keddle, who had visibly paled when she caught sight of the locker. She was now trying to stop her bottom lip trembling.

Tougas shrugged and headed for the locker.

“We’ll look into it. Don’t worry about him,” Rossi said quietly. It looked like he winked at her before he walked away, but Ginny couldn’t be sure because Keddle let go of Adrasteia and gave her a hug.

“It’s good to see you again, Ginny,” she said

“Thanks. How are you, Eva?”

“I’ve had better days, but I’m just glad that they’re finally going to do something.”

“Finally? They weren’t doing anything before?” Ginny asked, looking back at Tougas and Rossi who were closely examining the tendrils of the plant, careful not to touch it with anything but their wands because it was doing its best to latch onto them. She was less surprised than she sounded, given her own experience of their track record.

“They couldn’t.” Keddle sounded bitter. This, too, was a feeling they had in common. “There wasn’t any evidence, you know.”

“Yeah, Gwenog and the others were telling me.”

“They should be glad it wasn’t really my head in there,” Keddle replied, speaking loud enough for the others to hear. “Them, with their advice on relaxing for the finals.”

“You have no idea how sorry we are for that.” King said, placing a hand on Keddle’s arm. The others nodded or muttered their agreement, all mimicking King and giving Keddle’s arm a squeeze, or else hugging her. “We won’t question you anymore, promise.”

“And you can count on our support from now on,” Jordana said, her tone more gentle than Ginny could ever remember it, even after Ikey, the team mediwitch and Jordana’s wife, was found murdered by Bellatrix Lestrange.

“Thanks, guys.” Keddle was a little teary eyed again as she hugged each person in turn.

“Let’s let the Aurors get on with their work and we’ll get on with ours. Get your bags, we’ll use the other changing rooms until they’re done,” Jordana said.

Ginny grabbed her own bag and got Rossi to hand her Keddle’s, where it had been dropped a few feet from the locker. For the second time she thought she saw him wink at her, but he looked away quickly, and she didn’t have a chance to pursue it in the chaos of leaving. As she walked with Keddle to the room usually used by the opposing team, though, she wondered if this was just a new manifestation of the jumpiness she’d felt around strange men ever since that horrible incident with Dudley.

“You might not need it, but all the same I’d feel better if you kept it with you,” Adrasteia explained to Keddle, pressing a small phial into her hand. It contained a clear potion. “Ask Ginny. I told her the same thing and she’s found it useful on more than one occasion.”

“Dittany?” Ginny asked, taking the phial and examining it. “Yes, I have. Between my brothers and the fact that James inherited Harry’s knack for injury . . . “ She fell quiet because everyone was watching her now, probably drawn in by her mention of Harry. Handing Keddle the phial she said, “Well, it’s always a good idea to have some with you, whatever your reason. Come on, let’s get to work.”

Twenty minutes later the entire team was standing on the pitch waiting for Jordana and Gwenog to decide on how they wanted to start this practice. Ginny looked up at the clear sky and felt a sudden urge to be flying again. Yes, she had played some Quidditch at the Burrow during her time off, but there was nothing like playing for the Harpies. Her teammates were top notch.

“Right you lot,” Gwenog called after another five minutes. “Since we haven’t all been together for an entire season we’re going to have a lot to do. Weasley is especially out of practice, so let’s start with drills. Up in the air, let’s go.”

When she was finally able to kick off the ground Ginny had to exercise a great deal of restraint not to go flying off for a couple of laps. The wind was cool, fresh and felt great on her face. It was like she was finally able to breathe after being cooped up for a long time. The freedom didn’t last too long though, because within seconds of kicking off Gwenog tossed the Quaffle to her. Ginny caught it easily and sped off towards the goal hoops on the opposite end of the pitch, deftly avoiding the strategically positioned players. As she was nearing the goal, however, Howard aimed a Bludger at her. She swerved too late to avoid it, feeling the heavy ball grace her arm and she dropped the Quaffle.

“See, out of practice. That was an easy one,” Gwenog said after blowing her whistle. “We’ll try that again. I expect a goal this time, Weasley.”

“Of course,” Ginny said, massaging her elbow. She got in position again and caught the Quaffle when it was thrown to her by Gwenog. She heard Howard’s bat connect with Bludger and successfully avoided this time, streaking up the pitch toward the opposite goal, but just as she was getting ready to throw, a whistle sounded for the second time. Feeling slightly annoyed at the interruption, she looked back to her captain to demand what the interruption was for this time. Gwenog was leading the rest of the team toward the ground where Rossi and Tougas were standing with Jordana. Ginny followed last, dropping the Quaffle again as she raced after the others. For Keddle’s sake she hoped that they had good news.

Ginny landed in time to hear Rossi apologize to Jordana for the interruption.

“Not at all,” she replied.

Ginny was again surprised by such a reaction. It wasn’t that Jordana didn’t care about the players and their well-being, but never before would Ginny have expected such a sedate reaction from her manager, especially on the first day of training for the season. Perhaps some of it could be explained by Jordana’s lingering guilt over Ikey’s kidnap. It had happened just outside of the stadium, after all, well within an area that was within the protective enchantments.

Gwenog was the first to be led away. One player down, and missing their captain, the others didn’t continue practice. Instead they milled about the pitch, uncertain of what they should be doing, and uncomfortable because of the circumstance that led to their idleness. King, Dylan, Abdullah and Howard drifted off on their own and several minutes later came together again halfway across the pitch and started talking. Ginny didn’t know if they did this by design, or if it just worked out that way, but it was clear that they were keen to give both her and Keddle a wide berth lest they get involved in awkward conversations. She didn’t much care about how they reacted to her, for she definitely didn’t want to discuss her own situation, but Ginny did feel rather bad for Keddle who was still pale and looked close to tears.

“They’re bound to find the nutter who’s doing this,” she told Keddle, trying to inject more certainty into her statement than she actually felt.

“You really think so?” Keddle asked. She fixed Ginny with a skeptical stare, her eyes resting for a moment on the ring Ginny was wearing. “You, of all people?”

“Why shouldn’t I think so?” Ginny asked, hearing the defensiveness in her own voice as she quickly hid her hand in the pocket of her robes.

“I just thought that after what happened with Harry you’d be a little more . . . iIdunno, cynical, “ Keddle finished, looking more miserable than she had before.

“Yeah, well . . . The two situations aren’t exactly the same, are they?”

“How d’you mean?”

“Well,” Ginny started. She was determined to steer the conversation away from Harry and hopefully try to cheer Keddle up in the same go. “Just look at the changing room. It’s full of clues that they can use to find this guy. The same can’t be said about Harry’s disappearance. Believe me, I looked.”

“I hope you’re right,” Keddle said, looking slightly mollified. She stared in the direction that Gwenog had gone. “And I hope they work fast. I don’t think I can take much more of this.”

It seemed impossible to Ginny that Keddle could have dealt with this on her own for so long. She wasn’t sure how she would have held up in the same situation, or if people had refused to believe that Harry was missing. Hoping that she wasn’t misguided in thinking that the Aurors would actually solve this case, Ginny placed a consolatory arm around Keddle’s shoulders, receiving an appreciative smile.

“You said ‘looked,” Keddle said after a few minutes of silence. Ginny withdrew her arm, but this didn’t stop Keddle from pressing on. “Just a moment ago when you were talking about the two investigations, you said you ‘looked’ for evidence. Why did you stop?”

Turning her back on Keddle, Ginny walked away, cursing herself for bringing up the topic. Her own failed investigation had come about slowly. She might not have got as involved as she had done if, on her first day back to work nearly a year earlier, Jordana hadn’t told her to go home, that they wanted her to focus on the baby and finding Harry. She was deaf to Ginny’s statement that she needed something to take her mind off what was happening.

Finding herself with so much free time, Ginny became nearly obsessed with what the Aurors were doing to find Harry. She began to think, a belief she still held to this day, that they were not doing everything they could. This prompted her to start her own sort of investigation, following up on the many reported sightings that were flooding the WWN at the time. Most of them turned out to be bunk, and only succeeded in making the Aurors angrier at Ginny than they already were for her decision to stay in the flat. Tougas in particular, who was practically living at her flat at the time, was furious. Ginny hadn’t paid any attention to their complaints until Kingsley told her that if she kept interfering in the investigation they would have to arrest her.

She had been suspicious of their claims that they were just trying to keep her out of Lestrange’s clutches. For one thing, they didn’t have any evidence she was in danger at all. Ginny couldn’t explain it, but she was certain that Lestrange wouldn’t try to use some complicated round about way to get to Harry like she had done before. For another, as the hours stretched into days and weeks, she couldn’t help but remember Harry’s explanation for his abrupt departure the day she’d come to tell him she was pregnant.

Harry had been very reluctant to say anything at first, but eventually confessed that they had been discussing a new strategy for finally capturing Lestrange. Guessing that she would be even more desperate to carry out her ridiculous attempts to resurrect Voldemort, for which she was sure she needed Harry, they planned to lay a trap. They would offer her exactly who she wanted, while in effect they were laying a trap. If everything went according to plan, Harry had explained, they would have Lestrange back in custody soon and then he wouldn’t have to worry about Ginny’s safety anymore and everything could go back to normal. The plan had been Harry’s idea, and in darker times Ginny had wondered if he’d decided to go ahead with it, but he’d also admitted that he’d decided to cancel it in the first place because he didn’t want to leave her alone with the baby. His behaviour in the months before his disappearance had left her in no doubt that he was telling the truth. He would never have willingly left.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring it up,” Keddle said, now more than several dozen feet away. She sounded sincerely apologetic.

“It’s fine,” Ginny said, trying to muster as much sincerity as she could, but she wasn’t quite as successful as Keddle had been. She was glad that Gwenog reappeared a minute later, looking furious that they hadn’t continued practicing.

After sending King to talk with Rossi and Tougas, Gwenog ordered everyone to get back to work. Within minutes they were all in the air, continuing as best they could with only two Chasers. Ginny was glad that they had something to do as she was able to force every other unpleasant thought from her mind and focus only on the Quaffle. She didn’t seem to be alone in this either. Everyone seemed to put their all into practice, and things were going smoother than ever for a first session of the season.

They remained one player short for the entire day, as each person seemed to be gone for at least an hour. By the time it was Ginny’s turn, it was getting dark and cold.

“Let’s call it a day,” Gwenog said, to general relief. “Once you’re done with them you can go home, Weasley.”

“Thanks Gwen.”

Unsure what more she could tell the Aurors, Ginny headed back into the changing room where she could see the cutting of Devil’s Snare packaged in a corner, ready for transport back to the Ministry, the accurate replica of Keddle’s head was still in place and she had to avert her eyes as she walked past it to Jordana’s office where Rossi and Tougas were stationed with Jordana.

“Did you see if that man was still out there?” she asked Tougas before the door was closed.

“He was gone,” he replied simply, gesturing for her to take a seat.

“You should keep an eye out for him. He had a creepy look about him.” she stated.

“We can’t go arresting people because they have ‘a creepy look’. We need a little thing called evidence,” Tougas snapped. “You’re just like Potter.”

“I didn’t say run out there and arrest him,” Ginny replied just as snappily. “I just meant you should talk to him.”

“We’ll be talking to everyone within a mile of here,” Rossi said, poising his quill on a sheaf of parchment already filled with notes. “Can you describe him for me.”

Ignoring Tougas’s scowl, Ginny tried to recall the man’s face in as much detail as she could, knowing that this was the one thing she could do to help. She felt goosebumps as she remembered the sneering smile on his face. If she was right about him being Keddle’s stalker, and her certainty was growing as time passed, she would gladly rip him limb from limb.

As Rossi was scribbling furiously, turning his parchment steadily blacker, Jordana excused herself to check on Keddle. Ginny expected to join her almost immediately. Other than her description of the possible perpetrator of these crimes, she didn’t have much to offer, not having been around the stadium for a year. She was surprised therefore, that it was another half-hour filled with questions about what she might have observed prior to leaving.

The time she spent straining her memory for events probably long forgotten had tired her out more than an entire day’s worth of training, and Ginny was anxious to leave. Sitting and answering questions gave her more time than she liked to think, and she began to miss James very much. She was anxious to get home and see him

“I think that’s all we need for now,” Rossi said, replacing the lid on his ink bottle.

“Great.” Ginny jumped to her feet. “I’ll let you know if I think of anything else.”

“And I, of course, know where to find you if I have any other questions.”

Ginny nodded and hurried to the door, intent on getting home to see James, but also anxious to be out of the presence of both Aurors. Rossi was well known for his harmless flirting, but she couldn’t say she was all that impressed by it, especially given the current circumstances. When she heard he and Tougas leaving the office she ducked behind a set of lockers so as to avoid them. Tougas was speaking, and he sounded irritated again.

“ . . . don’t care what you do on your own cases, but I expect more professionalism if we’re going to work together.” Rossi said something that Ginny couldn’t hear because he was walking away from where she was standing. Whatever he said, though, seemed to irritate Tougas further. “Maybe it’s worked in the past, but I wouldn’t do it with her. Can’t you see how she’s obviously still messed up about Potter?”

Ginny had heard enough. She rushed back to the mercifully empty changing room, retrieved her bag into which she stowed her robes and broomstick before leaving. It seemed like a fortnight had passed since she’d last seen James.

The distance from the stadium doors to the Apparition point seemed further in the dark than it had during the day and Ginny was strangely unsettled by it. She kept a firm grip on her wand as she walked, looking from side to side more often than was necessary. Feeling slightly silly for her nerves, Ginny let out a tiny laugh.

“What’s so funny, ginger?”

Ginny spun on her heel, pulling her wand out of her pocket as she did so, but before she could raise it to full height it hit the man standing inches behind her, whose gravelly voice had cut through the silence.

“You! What do you want?”

It was the man with the scarred face, as she had feared from the minute he spoke. She tried to back away several steps, but the heel of her boot caught in a crack on the sidewalk and she fell backwards, dropping her wand, which rolled away into the darkness. She scrambled after it, kicking out and catching the man hard in the shin. He let out a cry that was halfway between pain and anger and she heard the crunch of snow as he started after her. Ginny just managed to close her fingers over her wand when she felt his hand close over her ankle.

“Let go,” she cried, trying to kick out again, but his grip was too firm. “Impedimenta.”

The spell hit its mark. He froze long enough for her to pull her ankle free and get to her feet. Her cry, however, had attracted the attention of a wizard who had just Apparated ten feet away.

“What’s going on?” he asked, hurrying over and almost knocking Ginny over for a second time. “Is he bothering you, Miss – oh!” His eyes widened in shock and recognition when she shook her hair out of her face.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” Ginny said impatiently, shaking off the hand he offered her. The last thing she wanted right now was some nonsense from a fan. “It’s that idiot who -”

She stopped talking abruptly because the scarred man she had been pointing to had disappeared completely. She spun around in a circle to try and catch a glimpse of him, but he was gone and a quick scan of the ground didn’t reveal any footprints.

“Are you hurt? Here, I’ll help you back inside. You should get checked out,” the new arrival said, putting a hand on her elbow as though to escort her back to the building.

“That’s not necessary, thank you.”

Pulling her arm free, Ginny jogged the last few feet to the spot where she could Disapparate. She was glad to get away from the fan so easily because she didn’t much feel like a long discourse on the Harpies prospects for the Quidditch Cup. She was disconcerted, however, to see that he was still watching her as she twisted into darkness.

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