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Chapter 1: Prologue
The first time she saw him was during the Easter holidays when she and her family were visiting her parents at the Burrow.
It was only by chance she looked out the window. Her mother had been gushing on and on about Ginny’s unborn baby as Harry talked about different names he considered. Privately she hoped she would have a chance at naming their third child, but she didn’t have the heart to tell him that. Bored with the conversation she was not really a part of, she looked out the window.
Because the conversation was taking place in Ginny’s old bedroom, she was given a clear view of the orchard behind the Burrow. She was surprised to see the tall figure of a man there. He wasn’t too close, just far enough to have been passing by and happening to have spotted their house. Ginny would have assumed that was the case if he hadn’t been just standing there, staring. She leaned back in her seat to hide from his view, mentally scolding herself for hiding. She could look out the window if she wanted to! He was the one who hadn’t been invited.
Stubbornly, she looked outside again, vaguely disappointed to find he had disappeared.
The second time Ginny saw him was almost the same as the first. That time, however, had been at night when she was in her home just a week later. She’d gone into the bathroom when she felt a wave of nausea overcome her. Although she hadn’t thrown up in ages, she was still cautious about where she was when she began to feel ill.
Pleased that she didn’t puke everywhere when the nausea passed, she washed her face and gazed out the window. The moon was only about a quarter full, but it was enough light to see the figure of a man almost pacing in front of her house. His head would turn up to look at it occasionally, but mostly it was facing up at the sky. She squinted, at first not realizing it was the same person as before. It was the height and familiar hairstyle that gave him away.
Unnerved, she backed away from the window and walked to James’s bedroom where Harry was reading a story to their three-year-old (almost four) son. Luckily James had just dozed off so Harry was already leaving the room when she arrived.
“There’s a man outside,” she whispered when he closed the door behind him.
Harry looked at her curiously as if asking what she wanted him to do about it. Honestly. She would take care of it herself if she wasn’t pregnant.
She rolled her eyes. “He’s just there, watching.”
He furrowed his brow and nodded. “I’ll take care of it.”
She watched him as he left nervously, and then peeked out the window when he was out the door. To her disappointment and frustration, the man seemed to have already left. After a thorough search around their property, Harry conjured a few wards and came back inside.
“I couldn’t find a trace of anyone,” he said. “You’re sure you saw somebody?”
She could tell by the look in his eyes that he believed her before she even answered with a nod. It was just a standard question.
“I’ll check on Al and keep watch for a bit, you go ahead and go to bed,” Harry said. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before going to bed.
The next morning Harry reported nothing had been out of the ordinary.
The third time she saw him had been the shortest encounter by far. She hadn’t even been sure if it was him. Ginny had been in Diagon Alley shopping for new clothes for the rapidly growing Albus. Her sister-in-law, Hermione, was with her, shopping for her little girl Rose. She was also pregnant, but only a month compared to Ginny’s four.
Hermione had left her only for a moment to explore a bookshop. A large crowd was passing Ginny as she ordered an ice cream inside a brand new shop. She scowled when the treat was knocked out of her hand by a group of children as they hurried past. A she’d been bending down to clean up the mess when she saw the man for the third time through the parlor window. It was just a glance, and like all the other times, he was just staring. He had pale skin and dark hair and looked more like a boy than a man. After she picked up the dropped cone and looked up at the window again, he had vanished.
She didn’t mention a thing to Hermione.
The fourth time was when she was sure she was hallucinating. It was probably the potions. She took a few potions to help her with the pregnancy. Ginny never really did like taking them; she was scared they would hurt the baby.
She knew it was in her head because she was sure the man… no, boy, was not really in her house. Not when she was home alone. And definitely not when the house was well protected by the Head of the Auror Office’s very own wards. There was absolutely no way that he was standing in her kitchen, leaning against the counter as he stared at her stoically.
There was also no way this boy was alive as he had been killed almost ten years ago when he was far beyond the age of a boy.
Yes, she was fairly sure Tom Riddle was not standing in front of her face.