The alley was completely deserted as far as she could tell, and other than the runoff from the rain gutters there wasn’t any sound either. Her heartbeat was just starting to return to normal when something caught the corner of her eye and an instinct inside her told her to run.
Her muscles tensed and then a shaft of light cut out across the dark space, a bus boy putting a bag of trash out. He didn’t pay her any notice. When she turned back whatever she had seen was no longer there.
It was only another hundred yards or so to the pub and she hurried there, constantly looking over her shoulder.
When she slid into the booth she was still shaking but everyone there just took it for the cold. A hot cup of espresso was pushed into her hands and she smiled thankfully at one of the guys from the department.
She was quieter than usual but no one noticed and before long they were heading out. She chose to walk back with Sarah, and by the time they arrived at the flat without incident she had almost convinced herself that what had happened earlier was just a product of her imagination.
The next morning she left early, determined to spend a few good hours in the library prepping before an afternoon filled with tutoring. The rain had gone, and even though it was still cold, the sun peeking through was enough to lift her spirits a bit.
There were few students about at this hour and just as she was climbing the steps to the library she felt a prickle go down her spine just before the same flash of pain she had felt the night before hit her chest.
She fell to her knees on the marble staircase and her satchel tumbled from her hands. She scrabbled backwards behind a pillar, one hand pressed into the scar to try and dull the pain.
One time she could throw off, convince herself it wasn’t important, but now...something was going on.
She gathered her things quickly and made her way into the sanctuary of the large building. It took her awhile to be able to shake the stinging pain and the feeling that something big that she didn’t understand was at play, but eventually she was able to settle down and concentrate, although she didn’t get as much work done as she had hoped.
Her walk home that evening was uneventful even though she was on edge the entire time. As soon as she was inside her flat, she didn’t even pay attention to the temperature, instead she raced straight for the dresser in her bedroom.
It took looking through three drawers before she finally found it, tucked in the back buried underneath sweaters she rarely wore. When she drew it out, a faint tingle went through her and it surprised her how natural it still felt in her hand.
After two years of self imposed magical restriction it took her a few tries, but she eventually was able to cast a few levitation spells as practice and then moved on to her doors and windows. Half an hour later there were very few wizards who could get through the wards she had now placed on her flat.
She sat nervously on her couch, idly fiddling with her wand, tracing the carvings and rubbing her thumb over that scar in the wood that had came as a result of being chased by Snatchers through the forest.
She didn’t know what to do. Something to do with the magical world was invading her very intentionally non-magical one.
There was a small wizarding village not too far from campus. That’s where she would go each year to send the owl to Hagrid. If anyone ever recognized her they had never said and she was never there long enough to be noticed. She contemplated visiting that weekend. Maybe she could find a recent copy of the Prophet, or maybe she’d send an owl to Ron. But she dismissed both thoughts as soon as she had them. Until she had more to go on she wasn’t going to let this unknown affect her more than it already had.
But that night before she went to bed she took the small toy sized trunk off her nightstand and held it tight for a moment before placing it on the floor and casting an ‘engorgio’ spell. Her school trunk sat before her looking the same as it had four years ago when she had packed the last of her magical things and shrunk it down before leaving England.
Opening the trunk slowly she was surprised to feel tears prick her eyes as she looked at her past. All her school books, spare parchment, empty potions vials, Gryffindor scarf, and a face down picture frame.
She ignored all these items and dug around in the bottom until she found what she was searching for. Pulling her left sleeve up, she barely glanced at the still raw looking letters before she strapped a thin wand holster to her forearm, wincing as it caught up the scar tissue. Placing her wand in the holster she was brought back to that last year of the war, running from place to place, desperately searching for horcruxes, and trying to end the fear.
Shaking her head, as if she could somehow physically erase the memories, she busied herself with pulling her sleeve down and feeling the slight disillusionment charm activate, not allowing anyone to notice anything out of the ordinary.
Sleep didn’t come easy, and when she did finally drift off she was awaken all too soon by images from the war.
She was out of the flat right after the sun came up, feeling more confident since she had her wand again. As she crossed the expanse of green in front of the library she felt that prickle on the back of her neck, like someone was watching her, and this time she spun around, right hand near her left wrist, ready to pull her wand if necessary. But nothing happened. Her scar didn’t hurt and she didn’t see anyone so she made her way inside.
The next three days went much the same. She kept feeling like there was someone watching her but could never see anyone. She had already made the decision to head into the wizarding village the next day, when she arrived at her flat. She was halfway down the hallway, approaching the door when she saw it.
Carved into the doorframe right above the knob was the word ‘Mudblood’.
All the air left her lungs at once and she turned quickly, expecting some sort of attack but she was alone.
Reaching out a hand she felt for her wards and found them all intact although it felt as if they had been pushed.
With shaking hands she unlocked the door and stepped in quickly, recasting the wards as soon as she was inside.
Someone had found her. She didn’t know who and she didn’t know how. Or why. She wasn’t exactly hiding. She hadn’t assumed a false identity or tried to actively stay hidden, but she had had virtually no contact with the wizarding world for four years. Why now?
Her heart was beating so fast she was surprised it hadn’t exploded. Without much conscious thought she raced to her bedroom and threw a change of clothes and a few other things into a small bag before shrinking it and sticking it in her pocket.
Within five minutes of arriving home she was now leaving again. There was a bus that ran between the smaller towns here and if she was lucky she could make the last one that would drop her off one village away from where she was headed.
She saw the bus waiting at the corner and ran the last fifty yards, breathlessly pressing her coins into the meter before taking a weary seat and allowing her eyes to fall shut. She twisted the band on her finger anxiously, hoping that she found some answers instead of more questions.
Twenty minutes later she smiled at the bus driver and got off one town from the wizarding village. There wasn’t much light and she was nervous as she glanced around, not hearing or seeing anyone.
She pulled her wand for it’s holster and held it down by her thigh, as she headed down the road as quick as she could.
The last town was out of sight and she could just start to make out the lights of her destination when she had the feeling on the back of her neck again and turned to look behind her just in time to see a spell shot her direction. If she hadn’t already had her wand out she would have been hit. She was able to cast a quick protego before darting for the cover of the trees.
She thought about sending her patronus ahead, but no one knew who she was and she didn’t know where to send it.
She tried to calm her breathing and focus on where the spell had been cast from but the forest was once again silent.
Taking a risk she started to step out into the road again when another spell hit, blasting into the tree next to her and sending sharp bits of bark scraping across her cheek.
She hissed in pain and surprise and began firing back. She kept to the woods but stayed where she could see the road and began working her way towards the village as fast as she could. She knew she was making noise, but something told her the faster she got into the town the better.
Spellfire continued to whizz around her, narrowly missing her on several occasions. She fired back over her shoulder when she could. One more bend in the road and she’d be there.
Suddenly fire shot across her right thigh and she crumpled to the ground. She scrambled backwards until she had some cover and began firing in earnest, not allowing herself to look at her leg. She heard a yelp of pain and then the distinctive sound of someone apparating in haste.
Hoping they didn’t have an accomplice she let her head fall back against the tree behind her and took a deep breath. What in the bloody hell was going on!
Finally she worked up enough courage and looked at her leg. It wasn’t as bad as she feared. More a burn from a passing spell than a direct hit. The gash was about four inches long and stung like crazy but it wouldn’t cause any lasting damage.
Getting to her feet she took one more cautious look around before stepping out onto the road and jogging as fast as her leg would allow her.
The village was mostly quiet when she entered the main street. Shops were closed for the night, the only light spilling from the pub where she knew they let rooms above.
The few patrons inside barely glanced her direction, and the bar keep didn’t bat an eye at her appearance.
Key in hand she made her way up a rickety staircase and found her room, immediately casting the same host of wards on this place as she had on her flat. Then she let herself slide down the door and let the tears escape that had been threatening for days.
Her leg throbbed and brought her back to the present. With a long sigh she made her way into the dingy bathroom and enlarged the bag in her pocket. Making due with what she had she cleaned the wound as best she could. Without any potions however, she was only able to cast a very basic healing charm. It took away most of the pain, but did nothing for the mark itself. She’d have a limp for a few days until it healed on it’s own. The scratches on her face weren’t deep they just looked bad. She refused to look herself in the eye, afraid of who may be staring back.
She changed clothes and lay on the bed although she knew she wouldn’t find sleep that night. She’d be counting the hours until the shops opened and she had a chance to get a paper and send an owl, although she was sure now she was being watched. Whoever was after her had to know she was in this town now, maybe she shouldn’t plan on staying long.
As she waited she berated herself for doing such a good job of staying outside of the magical world. Now she had no contacts, no information, and no way of knowing what was going on. She would have liked to have thought that if something big was going down that Ron would have sent her an owl, but maybe she didn’t have the right to think that anymore.
She couldn’t help but wish that Harry was there with her. Being on the run without him felt wrong.
She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew weak sunlight was coming through the thin curtains and she could hear life on the street. Rising quickly she forgot about her leg until she took a step and then she gasped in pain. The healing charm had worn off quicker than she expected. She cast another one and then continued over to the window.
The shops appeared to be open and there were enough people in the street that she felt comfortable not being caught alone.
The main room of the pub was empty at this hour and the bar keep was no where to be seen so she was able to slip out unnoticed.
The owl post was three doors down and she made it there without gathering anyone’s attention. Inside there was a small queue and she resigned herself to wait. When it was her turn she suddenly realized she had no idea who to contact.
With a tight throat she asked for the most recent edition of the Prophet and hurried back to her room without allowing herself to look at the front.
Safely behind her wards she sank onto the edge of the bed and opened the paper. At first glance there didn’t seem to be anything terribly amiss. The paper was only a few days old, and none of the headlines jumped out at her as reason to explain what was happening.
It was only when she was scanning the shorter articles that she saw something that made her gasp. ‘Member of the Trio Still Hospitalized After Vicious Attack’
Her hand covered her mouth in shock and tears blurred her vision as she tried to read the article that was woefully brief. Ron had apparently been attacked at his brother’s store almost two weeks prior from what she could gather. He’d been in a coma at St. Mungo’s ever since.
She tore frantically through the rest of the paper but there was no other article to suggest that there was anything going on to be worried about. Still, she couldn’t help but make a connection between the attack on Ron and what had been happening to her.
She paced the small room trying to decide what she should do. She could try and return back to England, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to try that alone and with no information. She could try and contact someone via owl, but she didn’t know exactly who to write. She could keep running and decide what to do later.
After much deliberation she decided she needed information more than anything else and she couldn’t make another decision until she knew what was going on.
She finally decided to write Mr. Weasley. He worked for the Ministry and would hopefully know if there was a connection between her and Ron.
It took her three attempts to come up with a letter than simultaneously gave enough information to let Mr. Weasley know she was in trouble, but not enough to say exactly what had happened.
“Am fine for now. Send R my love. Please advise.”
She hoped he would understand and if anyone intercepted it would not give anything away.
There was no one waiting when arrived back at the owl post. She sent it express and inquired about past copies of the paper but the clerk just gave her a look of disdain before gesturing towards the rows and rows of owl cages. All lined with old copies of the Prophet.
She told herself that barring any more attacks she’d give herself one more day in town before moving on, long enough to hear back from Mr. Weasley.
She made herself go down that evening and order something to eat, although she knew she wouldn’t taste it. It would do no good to let hunger and weakness affect her, she had learned that when they were searching for horcruxes. She checked the owl post one more time before they closed for the night, but was disappointed to find there wasn’t a response. Hoping she’s have one in the morning she headed back to her room.
She had forgotten to leave a light on when she left earlier and the room was disturbingly dark when she entered. Cursing her poor choice she recast the wards and made her way over to the nearest lamp. Just as she turned it on she sensed him.
With her heart in her throat and her wand half drawn she spun on her heel to see the only person in the world who could take down her wards.