30th June 1993
Ginny sat by the fountain in the Ministry of Magic. Her dad had come here to talk about some goods that had been found under Malfoy Manor. Things that apparently Ron had found out about.
She didn't want to know how.
She should have been enjoying her summer holiday, but the events of...it had still been too much for her. She didn't want to think back on her first year, even though she would normally have enjoyed being at Hogwarts.
Tom...he had lured her in, tricked her, used her.
Lord Voldemort had used her.
She remembered what Dumbledore had told her parents; that many other older and wiser wizards had been tricked by You-Know-Who, but she still felt dreadful.
Ron walked up to her from wherever Dad's office was. He sat down by her and tried cheering her up. "Don't worry, Ginny. You're safe. Harry saved you."
"I know," Ginny moaned, "but it's – it's too much. I still have nightmares, Ron." She groaned. "I'm going to get some fresh air."
Taking the visitor's entrance (the red telephone box) outside, Ginny walked down the street. She didn't care what she was doing, she just wanted to get away from everything. At home, it was filled with her brothers and she never got a minute's peace. And even if they weren't annoying her, Mum would try to make her help with whatever she was doing.
She heard Ron following her. She turned around, frowning nastily at him.
"What do you want?" she snapped. Taken aback, Ron stopped in his tracks.
"I – wanted to see if you were OK –"
"Well, I am!" she shouted at him, turning back and walking onto the next street, "I want some fresh air, all right? I just want to be alone with my thoughts because I've spent the last year having them intruded by a Dark Wizard!"
She sat down on the pavement outside of some houses and Ron turned around, back to the telephone box. He noticed a white van out of the corner of his eye and turn around onto the pavement.
He then heard Ginny screaming.
Ron panicked. He swerved around and heard the sound of a van door slamming shut. Darting around the corner, he saw the van start to drive away.
And when it moved away from the pavement, he saw that Ginny was gone.
For Arthur Weasley, to hear that his daughter was missing again was horrific.
Sitting down in Kingsley's office, where he had been when Ron had rushed inside, he put his balding head in his hands as his colleague started asking Ron, who was sitting on another chair in the office, some questions.
"Ron, Ron, just take a deep breath and listen, right?" Kingsley assured the young boy. "Now, what exactly did you see?"
"I saw a white van – one of those big, Muggle things that transport goods, Dad told me – and I had gone back to the telephone box. I heard her screaming –"
Kingsley leant down to Ron's height and looked him in his eyes. "Now, Ron, this is very important. Did you hear any incantations? Did you see what the kidnapper looked like?"
Ron shook his head and replied, "I didn't hear anything. Just her screaming."
Arthur had now stood up and his face was as red as his hair. "Listen, Kingsley," his voice grew angry, "if it were Death Eaters coming after her, or anything from You-Know-Who, I highly doubt they would have used Muggle transportation! On top of that, how were they to know where she was? I think we need to think about the fact that a Muggle has probably taken her." His voice drifted off. "A Muggle has taken my daughter."
He sat down again. It seemed as if he could never help his children. Ron had been in danger twice in two years and now Ginny had vanished again. And this time, they didn't even know what sort of danger she was in.
Kingsley was thinking something along the same lines. How could they search for a witch kidnapped by a Muggle if they couldn't even inform Muggle authorities?
As Steven rode down the motorway and stopped in a lay-by in rural Surrey, he took another look at the frightened girl he'd knocked out, now lying on top of his mattress in the back.
Small, long red hair, freckles and pale. Not the prettiest child he'd snatched, he thought, but far from the ugliest. Would she have a nametag? Some of them had had nametags. Mostly those he had snatched who had been in school uniform. Come to think of it, it was a Wednesday; why wasn't she in school? It could have been the dentist's or something. Didn't explain why she had been standing outside a telephone box, though.
She had been there at about half twelve that afternoon, as if on guard or something. Steven had been driving down after giving some shares to some business people in the City of London. Oddly enough, no-one had been down this road, apart from the girl. A boy with a definite family resemblance had run after her, to which Steven had stopped his van and taken a quick look, only about thirty-five yards from them and partially on the pavement.
He had examined them carefully, wondering if he should take one. They had both seemed on the older side of the children he took, but nothing to be sniffed at.
The boy had seemed rather tall and lanky. Despite his skinniness, he would have been a challenge to fight. Anyway, he was probably a bit too old, at twelve or thirteen years old. There was the possibility that he wasn't prepubescent and that would have ruined things. The girl seemed more his type.
He had waited for the boy to run back to the telephone booth and then Steven had manoeuvred the van so that it had blocked the boy's view, as well as anyone who might come down the street. He had pulled the side door open and grabbed the girl, one hand clamped over her mouth, the other grabbing a clump of hair.
Steven had pulled her inside and then used the sedative (which he always stored in his First Aid box on top of the mattress, just in case) to calm her down, taking only around thirty seconds.
He did worry that the boy might have seen the van and put two and two together, but hopefully he hadn't seen the licence plate. It might not be visible from that angle, anyway.
As Steven looked at her, he wondered what trophy he might take from her when he had finished. Her shoes? Her skirt? No, too simple.
He glimpsed something in her pocket as he crouched by her. Strange. She was carrying a long, thin stick. Why would a child be carrying that? OK, maybe he could have that as his trophy. It was certainly a lot better than Wayne Robins' gloves, at any rate.
Steven Livingstone liked to know his victims' names. Even if he didn't know their names when he took them, he liked to know afterwards. Sometimes, he had weaselled it out of them when they were alive. Then he felt satisfaction knowing what to name their grave as.
Not that he'd buried them all. The bodies of Francis Clarkson, Jade Ferguson and Lizzy Hier were buried in moorland in Lancashire, that was true, but some of them had simply been discarded. Especially if he had taken them outside of the British Isles.
He wondered where he should dump this girl when he was finished. Maybe in East Anglia, where Wayne had gone, and where Kendra had gone and Laura and Felicity had gone, years ago.
But they had been found, and had been found quickly.
No, Lancashire was the better place. Barren, endless hills and forests, somewhere he could hide her perfectly. But for now, he had to wait. He had to go and sell some company shares in Southampton and he couldn't afford to miss it.
After Kingsley had sent Arthur and Ron home by Floo Powder, he had sent the message through the Ministry to trusted co-workers. That Ginny Weasley had gone missing again and a Muggle was believed responsible. He knew that he couldn't tell everyone, since that if he did, blood purity enforcers would say this was proof that Muggles weren't to be trusted.
Within a few moments, Moody was in his office, as Kingsley tried to explain. Both of them had no idea how Moody could help with this. Any Dark Wizard and Moody would work out their pattern in a flash. But a Muggle abductor presented a problem.
Moody growled something about checking the Muggle cameras, since he said they could see what had happened. But he said he'd have to have Kingsley help him.
Kingsley sighed. "I needed to go with the Muggle Prime Minister to a newspaper archive. But I guess that if we see what our suspect looks like, I could see if his picture is in another newspaper."
Moody nodded. "That seems completely plausible. Just show me how this works."
As Livingstone drove around Hampshire, he thought to himself. How far was it from Whitehall to the Forest of Bowland? That was where his secret treasures were hidden, away from prying eyes.
He checked his road map and used a ruler. He came to the conclusion that it was just short of two hundred miles. No-one would think of finding the girl there.
It wasn't the furthest distance he had ever transported a victim, far from it. Felicity Jackson had been found three hundred and sixty miles south of where she had vanished in Aberdeen. Kendra Donovan had been snatched from a small village a few miles north of Belfast and discovered two months later outside Littleport in Cambridgeshire, over three hundred miles and across the sea from where she'd been snatched.
The case had been headlines for a month. 'NORTHERN IRELAND GIRL KENDRA DONOVAN FOUND DEAD IN ENGLAND'. Livingstone chuckled to himself as he remembered Scotland Yard being baffled as to how she could have been taken overseas without anyone finding out.
Not that Kendra had been his first to be taken from the Emerald Isle. No, that was Jade Ferguson, who was at this moment rotting on a hillside with a fantastic view.
Sometimes he liked to go and see Jade. Or Francis and Lizzy. He'd been seeing Jade for just a little over eight years, longer than she had been alive, in fact. Six weeks longer than she had been walking the Emerald Isle.
She didn't grow up.
None of his victims did.
He was certain the girl he had in the back was his twelfth victim. She was also his eighth girl, if he was right. Of course, he didn't discriminate between gender, but he liked to keep account anyway.
He looked back at the girl, now tied and gagged with duct tape. Her eyes were fluttering and she was now waking up.
Terrified, she started to struggle, but Livingstone just smiled at her. She was his now. He'd had to hold her down, otherwise she would have fought. He did it to all of them, just a precaution. When she'd been awake and had spat at him, she'd said something about six brothers. A girl like that would know how to fight, he'd reckoned, so he'd sedated her for the second time.
He looked at the stick, which was knocked on the floor by some magazines. She had seen it as well and was shuffling her body closer.
He grabbed her by the top of her hair and started pulling her away from it. He couldn't lift more of it up, since it was stuck under the tape, but it was enough to move her body around. He pushed her onto her back and then knelt above her, one arm digging into the mattress on either side of her head.
As Kingsley walked around the newspaper archive, he had the image of the man in his mind. Moody had shown him a picture from a Muggle camera at a bank down the road he had extracted with his wand. The bank had been just fifty yards from the telephone box and Kingsley wondered if they needed to fix this problem.
But at the moment, this was more important.
He concentrated at the stacks and stacks of newspapers on the shelves in the warehouse. These newspapers went as far back as ten years and the policy was that there had to be one copy for each paper sold stored away in the warehouse. By hand, it would have taken weeks. But that was where magic came in.
Then about two dozen different copies flew down to the desk beside Kingsley.
Frowning to himself, he flipped through the pages of the latest one, labelled 26th January this year.
A picture of a blonde, cheerful Muggle girl lay on the second page, with a picture of a short-haired, bearded middle-aged man next to her.
Right, Kingsley told himself, just need to skim this.
He found out that the man was supposedly seen driving a white van up the road (literally, as the road was on a slant) in a Welsh village the day that twelve-year-old Lizzy Hier had disappeared.
Kingsley picked up a random newspaper and his eyes grew wide.
An animated map of East Anglia, with labelled dots making a strange rectangle. Four photos of Muggle children looked back up at him. Three girls, one boy. One looked about Ginny's age, two were slightly younger and the fourth was aged six. And Kingsley read on, he really knew how dangerous this person was.
MURDER OF WAYNE ROBINS BELIEVED CONNECTED TO MURDERS OF THREE GIRLS
Since Wayne Robins was found last week in a raspberry field in Essex, Scotland Yard have linked his death to the murders of three girls in the 1980s. Wayne was found by a farmer a week after he vanished from Pellon in Halifax, after going to collect a bicycle pump for his father.
The three murders from the 1980s baffled police and remain unsolved. More on Page 7.
Kingsley turned to the map, now much larger and encompassing the whole British Isles. He looked at the dates and the few facts written on there, with pictures of pins to indicate where the children were found.
Kendra Donovan was nine years old when she had disappeared from Ballyclare. The dark brown-haired girl had been on her way to a friend's house when she had simply disappeared. That was in August of 1987. Her body had been discarded on a grassy knoll between three fields in Cambridgeshire two months later.
Laura Fitzpatrick had been eleven, the same age as Ginny, when she had vanished from Gretna in Scotland in July the following year. After going swimming, the tall, thin strawberry blonde had simply disappeared as she walked home to collect something for her friends. Her swimming bag with her costume inside had been found by the side of the road only sixty yards from the pool.
Laura had been found near a clump of trees by a gated field in Weeting, a village in Norfolk, three weeks later. The case had been immediately linked to Kendra, not just because of the similar age and circumstance, but that she was discovered only thirteen miles away from where Kendra was.
The mystery increased with the disappearance of six-year-old Felicity Jackson, who wore her hair in tight, curly black plaits and had vanished by the beach in Aberdeen in August 1989. This time, a white man in his thirties had been seen with her, talking to her as she sat down on the banks by the beach. Her body was found two months later, as it had done with Kendra.
This time, Felicity had been found in a field in a hamlet in Suffolk, more than twenty miles south of the Norfolk village. The position of the body had indicated that the murderer had simply chucked her over the hedge and driven off.
Horrified, Kingsley felt himself drawn to Wayne's circumstances. Would a murderer of girls go after a boy, he thought. Possibly, he told himself as he grimaced.
Brown-haired Wayne Robins had been aged ten when he left his home to get a bicycle pump on 31st March 1992. He had simply vanished as he walked home with it. The pump had never been found.
Wayne had. He was discovered in a village in Essex, almost fourteen miles south-west of the hamlet and nearly thirty miles south of Littleport, just eight days after he vanished.
A shiver ran down Kingsley's spine as he read on. He turned back to the article on Lizzy Hier and saw that the parents of Laura Fitzpatrick had been talking to the newspaper and giving their sympathies. He read that 'at present, there is no evidence linking Laura and Lizzy's cases, although Scotland Yard have noted the similarities between cases'.
But if both newspapers had been drawn to him, Kingsley decided, they definitely were.
When Kingsley returned to Moody that evening, he had the information snatched from the newspaper archive. Kingsley couldn't remember the last time Muggle press had been in here and he had to keep it secret. One look at the front page photographs and he'd be questioned about why he had Muggle items inside the Ministry.
"Alastair," he explained to Moody, after several locks had been opened on the Auror's door, "I think I know what sort of person we're dealing with."
"You could have worked that out already," Moody snapped at him, magically drawing up a chair for Kingsley to sit, "I've had to go to the Weasley house myself. Place was a state. Molly was crying her eyes out, going 'Oh, she's just escaped You-Know-Who and all this is ruining us and now a Muggle predator's taken her, what am I going to do with this?' Percy said something about ripping a certain rude part off of whoever did it and his mother slapped him. First time I've ever seen the twins quiet, come to think of it."
Kingsley showed him the newspaper. Moody didn't even bother opening it as his magical eye swerved around. He looked up at Kingsley and asked, "None of the kids magic, were they?"
"I don't believe so," Kingsley replied, "but did you manage to work out how to track Ginny?"
Moody nodded. "Managed to convince Molly to let me take a hair from Ginny's pillow. If I did the spell right, it should tell us which direction she is travelling. The spell only works if the person is currently alive," he held up his wand, the tip of which was now glowing a dark blue, "so the light means she is still breathing. I really need to keep this thing to myself, it's just something I experimented with and I don't want anybody finding out, Kingsley."
He looked up from his wand and told Kingsley, "We need some reinforcements."
Livingstone took a sip from his bottle of water and glanced outside at the rising sun. It was daytime now and he'd go and buy a newspaper soon. He preferred leafing through the local newspapers, but whenever he abducted a child, he liked to try and see if he could spot their name and read about the police searching and the begging parents. It always satisfied him.
But after he brought a nationwide paper, he scowled. Not a sign of the little redhead at all. No school pictures, no home photos of her holding a dog or a Christmas present in her pyjamas or proudly standing by a bicycle, as all his others had been.
Not even a bad one from a fuzzy camera.
He made sure no-one was looking (of course they wouldn't, he thought, this is the car park by a burger stand in rural Cambridgeshire at half-five in the morning) before he pulled the door back and clambered inside.
He looked at the girl, who was simply staring into space, numb and floppy. Taking a pair of scissors from the First Aid box, he cut the tape off of her head. Looking into her eyes, Steven asked, "How come you're not mentioned in here?" he held up the newspaper by her face, the front cover adorned with a picture of Trafalgar Square. "Not a peep."
Then Steven held his head at an angle and looked into her green eyes as a thought occurred to him. "Your family gypsies or something?"
It would explain the huge family, scruffy clothes and the stick. Well, it might explain the stick. But what bothered him was that it seemed no-one was looking for her.
Not that he cared about that, it didn't matter to him. But there was usually something about a little kid going missing, even if it wasn't front page. He didn't take the foreign newspapers since he couldn't read much French or Dutch or Danish, but he guessed it was the same in other countries.
He leaned his face closer to this girl and growled through closed teeth, "Who – are – you?"
Even with the tape off she hadn't made a noise. Instead, her eyes just flicked around, desperate.
"Tom?" he heard her whimper, "Please, Tom, don't hurt me." She gave a few heavy breaths. "Tom, did you hurt those others? Colin and Justin and Penelope and Hermione? Are you going to hurt me?"
She hadn't even seen him. But Steven knew that look. It was the look eight-year-old Sam White had when he had been his, been his for a whole year when he lived four doors down from Steven, a whole year while the older boy had him at his mercy. Before the police came around when Sam was nine and Steven was sixteen and a half and Steven had been given his first and so far, only, prison sentence.
A prison sentence that lasted for five long years before he was released, far away from his mother and his life, up in a small village in Lancashire. It was two years before he joined the biscuit company that he sold shares and supplies with, travelling around and selling them to business associates here and abroad.
And it had been four months after he took the job that he had snatched ten-year-old Alana Dunn as she cycled near her home in Kells, County Meath. Steven smiled as he recalled pretty, curly-haired Alana. He had dumped her body after he drove to the end of a country lane and found a bog. If he was right, they found her four months later, perfectly preserved.
He still had her St Christopher medal. It was in his drawer gathering dust, next to Felicity Jackson's Barbie doll and Lucas Coutroue's trainers.
Steven asked the redhead, "What's your name?"
Her small pupils turned to look at him and she gasped, "Ginny Weasley." She then asked, in a hoarse whisper, "Is Tom here? He said he could help me. He said he'd explain why I've been having blackouts and what's been happening around the school."
Steven sat back. Smiling to himself, he thought he might as well entertain himself while this girl explained what happened. He liked absorbing horrific information and if this girl let out everything Tom had done, he would be satisfied.
Perhaps this girl would be one of his favourites, like Jade Ferguson or Petr Olson. Or maybe not. It all depended on what would happen before she died.
Moody's wand was showing that Ginny was still alive, but this did not settle Kingsley one bit.
The two of them were now in a field somewhere in Oxfordshire, where they were to meet Moody's reinforcements; Dawlish, Proudfoot and Savage.
The fact that they might have to use magic to rescue Ginny Weasley presented a whole host of problems. They couldn't use any magic in front of the Muggle who had abducted her, or any other Muggles, so they had to rely on other methods.
But Moody already knew which direction the Muggle was going in, so they had that problem under control.
Kingsley had spent the night leafing through the Muggle newspapers at his home, all taken from the warehouse. He had suspected that if the killer had gone to Northern Ireland, there was plenty of reason to suggest that he had also gone to the Republic of Ireland.
He had found something on an article regarding Kendra Donovan, about other Irish murders.
He had seen something about a girl named Alana Dunn, who had been ten years old when she had been snatched from her bicycle in County Meath on 27th June 1979. She was only found in a bog in County Westmeath when some Gardai had lost a helmet and uncovered her body.
Another case that sent chills down Kingsley's spine was of Jade Ferguson on 13th April 1985. The black-haired eight-year-old had been taken near Green Lough. She had been walking down the road to her neighbour's house and the imprints made by her wellingtons stopped in the mud by some tyre tracks.
Jade was never found, despite a drench of the Lough and a search of the surrounding area by thousands.
Kingsley hoped that whatever fate befell Jade wouldn't come to Ginny.
Livingstone rode through Oxfordshire, taking in the scenery, as he always did when he drove in the countryside, whether he had a child tied up in the back or not. He had listened to little Ginny babble on for over half an hour of his precious time about that Tom person. He hadn't managed to work much out, as she had been breathing heavily and her eyes darted around, possibly because she wasn't entirely here.
But he had worked out some facts. Tom had been sixteen, as Livingstone had been when he was first arrested. Tom had hospitalized some other children; a boy from Ginny's year named Colin, a boy from the year above her, a much older girl named Penelope (who apparently was one of her brothers' girlfriends) and a girl with an unpronounceable name. He had also hospitalized a cat and a much older person named Nick, but Ginny said something about him being already dead, which Livingstone didn't understand.
Tom was also sneaky and lied to Ginny about who he was. He had made her do things she didn't want to do and hadn't been 'awake' when she had done them. Then Tom had tricked her into going to his home.
That was as far as the girl had gotten.
But Livingstone had decided he liked Tom. Here was someone like him, who didn't care who he hurt or killed. Livingstone thought that this young man seemed like a serial killer in the making.
Unfortunately, from what information Ginny had given him, it seemed as if Tom was dead now. Possibly. She said that someone she loved had stopped him, stabbed him, so it seemed as if this man was dead.
Pity. Livingstone would have loved to have met him. He somehow always desired a partner, someone to share his habits with and come up with cunning plans to abduct and murder. But a partner might want to control him and that was something Livingstone didn't want.
Maybe he'd keep Ginny alive a little longer. Just to see if she could provide any more details.
He didn't know how long the longest time he had kept a child had been. He knew that he had driven all over Denmark with Sara Nordskov, around a year ago, for at least twenty-four hours. He had abducted her in mid-afternoon and knew that it was the second night when he murdered her and discarded her in a forest near Velling, but he wasn't sure how long it had been.
He knew that Sara had begged at the end of it and scratched his face with her nails. Sara Nordskov was not his favourite.
This girl wasn't much younger than Sara. Sara had also been his oldest. She had been twelve years and seven months when he murdered her. The next one in both age and order had been Lizzy Hier, who had been kidnapped from a small village in Powys, by the border. Now Lizzy he enjoyed. Livingstone smirked to himself as he remembered seeing her with her friend in the front garden, as he was driving back to Sawley from Fishguard. Still fresh in his mind, that pretty little blonde-haired girl with a high giggle. So much different from dark, curly-haired and spotty Sara.
Right, Lizzy had been in...end of January. Only six months ago, Livingstone mused. The length between successful abductions were getting shorter. There had been three years between the day he killed Alana and when he had stalked Francis Clarkson in Warrington. And just under three years before that day and when he had taken Jade Ferguson. With eight months from then and Lucas Coutroue.
Was he slipping up? Of course he was; this was his twelfth victim. He was getting too cocky and he had convinced himself he was invincible.
When Livingstone had stopped for a breath in Montgomery and had a ploughman's lunch at some pub or other, he had been raring to go when he saw two girls in the front garden of a nearby house on a slanted hill.
He had wanted to take both of them, the hunger for blood had pumped inside him uncontrollably, but the smaller girl – who he had guessed to maybe have been younger – had gone inside and the other one followed some feet behind.
Livingstone had been almost caught, as Lizzy had kicked out and screamed and the younger girl – as she reported in the news later – had seen Lizzy's pink-and-white trainer at the end of the stone wall when she kicked out.
Now, he had taken another girl and he was certain that Ginny's brother had seen him. Seen his van. Maybe seen the licence.
But nothing had happened. Nothing happened in the news. How was this possible?
Livingstone glanced over at Ginny, who had duct tape wrapped around her head again. She was lying on her back, looking dazed. He knew that she wasn't really here and that took the fun out of this.
It was as if he was being mocked.
It was as if someone much better than him had got to the girl first and ruined everything for him.
But Steven told himself that he just had to give himself time. No-one was looking for the girl and he could take his sweet time with her.
Lucky gypsy, he told himself, you're going to make me enjoy myself.
"Right, she's somewhere north," Moody told the others as they walked along the road by the motorway, "And this is the road she took." He swore loudly and shouted that he needed to fix this.
Kingsley groaned inwardly as he thought about what to do now. Ginny had been missing for nearly twenty-four hours and so far they were walking down a Muggle road and no clue as to where she was, other than she was alive and somewhere north-west of wherever this was (Dawlish thought it was near Birmingham).
This would have made the lot of them a laughing stock if this hadn't been so serious.
It was late in the afternoon when Livingstone drove up into a car park in Stechford in Birmingham.
He'd slept in a lay-by on the M40, after again sedating the girl, for around six hours. He was now behind schedule. He'd spent too much of it having fun, listening to the girl talk about Tom and what he had done to her.
What Steven did to her.
Now he needed to deliver goods to a business in Stechford, as well as Warrington, Blackpool, Kendal and Carlisle and the Scotland route. He started to regret offering to take up the Scotland route. He knew it was rewarded with a bonus pay, but he doubted if he should really abduct when he had such a long stretch.
Now he had a decision to take. He could do what he had done with Jade Ferguson and Lizzy Hier and strangle Ginny Weasley in the Forest of Bowland, near his Sawley home. Or he could simply take her up further north and let her live another twenty-four hours. After all, he felt as if he hadn't enjoyed himself enough.
Best to let it go on for a little longer then.
Livingstone was greedy. He didn't know it, but his greed would be his downfall, as it had done with so many predators before and after him.
His hunger for blood and his lust for power over others made him so dangerous, but at the same time, it was his fatal flaw.
He had murdered so many that the feeling would wear off quicker and he would take more and more and never be satisfied enough. That was why the gap between Lizzy Hier and Ginny Weasley had only been six months.
Later, as Livingstone drove through Warrington, he remarked on how this place had seemed so different from when he had taken Francis Clarkson. His friends would be all grown up and other children would have taken their place.
As usual, Steven drove through the same tunnel that he had dragged Francis Clarkson from, over eleven years ago. There had only been one photo of him in the local newspaper that Steven had picked up a week later. It hadn't even been a good one. It had been taken from an angle and in black-and-white, so his blonde crop wasn't visible.
Later editions had one from the front, where the nine-year-old had been in colour, in a yellow jumper. But Livingstone only had four cuttings at home, a rather feeble souvenir.
Livingstone had wanted to take another child from Warrington, since he travelled through it so often. He had tried, definitely. He had three separate cuttings. A seven-year-old girl from outside a grocery in 1984. A ten-year-old boy at a gym in 1987. An eight-year-old girl (who had been too spotty for him, really) who had been taking part in a cricket match on a green in 1991.
But he had failed every time. He had lost his nerve or someone saw him or the child screamed if he got near.
But the cases had not been connected. He knew that much.
There had been other times he had failed to take a child, of course. When he had been driving through Virginia in County Cavan, days after the one year anniversary of Jade Ferguson's murder, he had gotten drunk and tried stalking a nine-year-old boy. Maybe he shouldn't have gotten drunk first. The boy had got as far as a tailor's when the Gardai arrested Livingstone for being drunk and disorderly. His superiors had told him off spectacularly for that.
He remembered another time, when he had driven through Bury St Edmunds, back in 1980, thinking that an eleven-year-old boy seemed alone. It turned out later that the boy had actually been fourteen, but Livingstone hadn't known at the time. If the kid had looked his age, Livingstone wouldn't have bothered.
He had followed the boy down the street and when he had begun to catch up the boy had hammered on a nearby door and repeatedly rung the doorbell. That scared Livingstone off.
Another memorable time had been when he had delivered biscuits to a boat company in Southampton and he had seen an eleven-year-old girl painting on an easel at the pier. That was more recent, only in 1989. He had asked her if he could buy some paints from her and she had said no. Livingstone had gone closer and actually grabbed her when she bit his hand and poked a finger into his eye.
Livingstone had let go and swore as the girl ran off screaming down the pier to an older friend nearby. To make it worse, a flock of seagulls had been alarmed by the noise and flew closer. Livingstone had left an imprint of his boot on the girl's knocked-over easel and the police undoubtedly had it in their evidence storage.
He heard Ginny stirring in the back and he knew he'd have to stop soon and scare her into being quiet. But for now he needed to take some biscuits to a business.
The five of them Apparated into the car park when Moody's wand had started flashing brightly at the outskirts of Birmingham and had appeared at that spot.
Moody swore again and told the others, "We've got here too late. But Ginny isn't too far away. That I know. We need to work out where the guy will go next."
Kingsley sighed to himself. "It's likely that the Muggle has a destination. The van implies that he is a delivery driver. We need to take another look at the camera, to see if he belongs to a company."
Moody grimaced, but then mumbled, "Seems like the best option. Kingsley, head back to the Ministry. We'll keep up this way."
After Kingsley Apparated back to Whitehall and entered the Ministry, he made a mental note to also take a look at the licence plate. He knew that 'please-men' sometimes looked at the bar at the back of a car to locate them. He didn't know how it would work this way, but when he had an idea of what he was looking for, he could know what to do.
The answer came quicker than he thought it would. He would ask any wizards with Muggle neighbours to tell him if they recognised the plate. Put out the call through to any wizarding houses – those that he trusted, anyway – and wouldn't say why, except that this person possibly had information that may lead to their discovery.
He would get an answer if they believed that.
He'd also inform Dumbledore about this. He knew that the headmaster would not be pleased about the Weasley girl being taken again, but Kingsley felt that if Dumbledore knew, it may help in some way.
Livingstone had already delivered to the English destinations and was now outside of Coatbridge in Lanarkshire. It was now almost four, about twenty-seven hours after he had taken Ginny. She was in the back; awake, but bound with tape and underneath some empty boxes in the back.
He needed to go to Stirling, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen, before going south the same way and going to Edinburgh and Gretna, before back to Sawley.
Then, when he was back there, in approximately ten to fifteen hours' time, he would get rid of her.
As he drove north, he wondered what sort of family wouldn't even tell the police, if they had. The gypsy theory sat with him best. He knew little about travellers, but enough that they kept to themselves.
He thought of himself as a traveller, but only so that he could be a bogeyman to children.
He knew that gypsies, like the circus and fairs, kept to themselves.
Livingstone knew fair people well. He had learnt French and Dutch from one fair that operated in Belgium. They had a contract with the biscuit company. It was by one of these fairs that he had taken Lucas Coutroue.
Livingstone smirked and stroked the steering wheel as he recalled. A cold day at the end of January seven years ago. He had delivered and was leaving the field where it was held, near Maldegem, when he saw eight-year-old Lucas and asked him how to get to Bruges.
Lucas had barely opened his mouth when Livingstone had forced him inside the van. The boy's body had been found that October in a lake near the Dutch border. That Steven knew.
There had, of course, been ones outside of the British Isles that had never been found. Sara Nordskov was one, but he had also taken Margot Langbroek. The nine-year-old, also with dark, curly hair, had been taken from a small town in the Netherlands, back in 1991, when Livingstone had been driving back to the dock to take him back home. Margot had been sedated quickly and in the next four and a half hours, she hadn't woken once.
That had been one of Steven's merciful kidnappings.
His last foreign child had been Petr Olson, aged ten. Snatched in Koling in Denmark, back in 1990. Livingstone had taken him only twenty minutes from where he would later snatch Sara. Petr was found the next day in a stream twenty-five miles away, nine hours too late.
But now, Livingstone had to concentrate on Ginny. He was growing tired of listening to her cry about Tom and he would get rid of her soon. He would have preferred to just dump her in Scotland, but he felt a small satisfaction if he buried her body in Lancashire.
Livingstone had a great view of the Forest of Bowland from his home. A great view that, if he held the binoculars at the precise angle, he could see where he had buried Francis Clarkson, all those years ago. He could place the girl there. He felt there was something poetic about leaving two children so close together. It was why Kendra, Laura, Felicity and Wayne had been so close together in death.
Or maybe, as he had gone with other girls, place her to the west of the River Ribble. Jade and Lizzy, placed just over a hundred yards apart. He had visited the hill where he had buried Jade so many times over the last eight years. He had considered once placing a plaque there. In memory of Jade Ferguson, April 1st 1977 – April 14th 1985.
But he couldn't. People would ask why and besides, the place was now cordoned off by a fence so Steven could only see it from afar. For a similar reason, he couldn't go and see Lizzy. He had trespassed onto farmland when he had buried her in woods.
Soon, he told himself as he drove north from Coatbridge, soon.
2nd July 1993
When Livingstone had finished in Scotland and drove into Gretna, it was just after dawn. He felt worn out. He had been driving non-stop aside from a four-hour sleep in-between Dundee and Aberdeen.
While he had been there, though, he had been certain that a dark blue light was waving in front of the van and a terrifying-looking man with a huge eye had stooped over the window. Livingstone had screamed loudly and darted off into the darkness.
Now he was worn out and grateful that he only had a few hours left to get rid of the girl. Sawley was just two hours away and he would finally strangle her there.
Would he do it at the spot? Or would he do it while she was still in the van? He would make up his mind when he got there.
She had been in his clutches for thirty-eight hours now and the novelty was wearing thin. Oh well, it was nearly over.
When Livingstone got back home and drove into the garage, dragging the girl out by her legs as she writhed on the floor, trying to scream and weeping, he flung her onto the carpet as he went upstairs to have a rest.
Ginny had barely registered where she was, but she knew that she was in a Muggle house. Normally, she'd have been interested, but now she only wanted to get out of here.
For hours, she had tugged at the tape around her wrists and loosened them slightly. She knew that she could have used wandless magic, but they hadn't been taught that yet and she had been in no state to do it, anyway.
She pushed herself up against a wall and screamed into the tape as a hot, crinkled surface hit against her back. As she regained her bearings, she remembered that it was what Muggles used to heat their homes.
OK, OK, time to try and find something sharp. Shuffling over to a door slightly ajar, she pushed her hands against the side and pushed in.
Rubbing frequently and winching when splinters hit her hands and wrists, she soon got the tape loose enough to get free.
Once she was standing up, free of the tape, she looked around.
She had no idea where she was. She knew that her kidnapper was asleep upstairs, but she didn't know where he kept his keys. First things first, she had to get her wand back from the van. She hadn't heard him lock it.
When she did take it back, she held it out as she walked through the house. The keys weren't anywhere.
They could be in his room.
No, that would be walking into the sphinx's den. And he may have a gun (a Muggle metal wand) or a knife up there that he could attack her with. She knew that there was a law about defending yourself with magic, but she knew little about it and didn't know if there was anything about defending yourself against a Muggle.
But Ginny had little choice.
Talking a large gulp, she gingerly trod upstairs and started to push open a door.
Livingstone had fallen asleep on the unmade bed. Beside him lay a chest of drawers with some of them open.
Ginny opened the drawer open further and just stopped herself from gasping aloud.
Her shoes were in there, placed on top of a folded blue jumper. But that was not all.
A plastic doll was pushed between the jumper's folds and a bead bracelet was at the side. A tie with the nametag 'Alana Dunn' sewn inside, an empty purse with the nametag 'Laura Fitzpatrick' on top of a swimming costume, a pair of shorts with the nametag 'Wayne Robins'.
Newspaper cuttings, not just in English but in French, Dutch and Danish, of many different faces of Muggle children.
A butterfly hairclip, a school emblem cut from a blazer with Dutch words inscribed on the front, a pair of green socks with the nametag of 'Felicity Jackson', a football shirt, a child's bucket from the seaside with dried mud on the side, a few hair-ribbons of different colours, a pair of trainers and a green school jumper, with the name 'F. Clarkson'. There were still a few strands of hair attached to hair-ribbons.
Then she felt someone grab her hair and felt hot air breathing down her neck.
"Nosy little cow," he snarled into her ear, "time to go."
Kingsley had somehow found that the man (from a source at a biscuit company) lived in Lancashire and his house was somewhere nearby. The five of them were now standing in Sawley, by the side of the road, trying to find the house.
Kingsley had the plate number written down and they were looking everywhere. But they didn't know what to do.
He was about to suggest to Moody about taking an aerial scan when they heard a piercing scream.
The scream from a girl.
Ginny Weasley was begging as Livingstone pulled her through the woods, up the hill.
He was dragging her by the hair and held her wand in his hand. He had grabbed it from her and said this was now his, before shoving her out. She had pleaded and cried, but she only screamed when he tugged a clump of her hair out.
He swore and kicked her when she fell down and now threw her onto the ground, pushing a boot down on her throat.
He surveyed the area and then pointed with a nasty finger at the ground about ten yards in front of him.
"Missy, that is where Francis Clarkson is. I took him eleven years ago and you're going to lie in his grave. He cried, you now. He cried like you're crying now. He was pathetic. You're all pathetic. You like to think you're so great but in the end you all meet your fates at my hands."
Ginny grabbed his leg and dug her nails in. Taking a chance, she bit his leg when he let go.
Livingstone swore repeatedly as Ginny pushed him down and ran down the hill.
She didn't know where to turn. She couldn't see the village from this angle. She just ran off, her heart pounding in her mouth.
Weeping, she concentrated hard as she ran.
I'll see them again. I'll see Mum and Dad and Ron and everyone else. I'll see Hermione and Scabbers and Errol and Harry...Harry...Harry, please save me. Save me from Tom – no, he's not Tom. He's not Tom. Is he?
She had reached a brook by a farmhouse when she finally ran out of breath. It felt as if she had been running for ages. She was sporty, but even so she needed to catch her breath.
Going further into the wood, she tripped over a branch. Her hands landed in the wet mud and as she drew them out, her hand caught something.
She screamed loudly when she pulled out a pink-and-white trainer, still attached to a rotting foot.
The wand flashing and the screaming led the Aurors to Ginny. By the time they had conjured up a stretcher and Kingsley had sent an anonymous phone call to Muggle authorities to go to Livingstone's address, pretending that some illegal contraband was there, Ginny had lain still with her eyes open.
Sending her to St Mungo's, all that her rescuers had worked out was that Ginny had been saying the same words repeatedly.
Tom. Bad man. Don't. Harry.
Mr and Mrs Weasley came to the hospital as soon as they could. Their daughter had been gone for nearly two days and now she had come back in a dreadful state.
From what healers told her parents, Ginny was catatonic. It was likely that when she recovered, her memories of the incident would be combined with whatever had happened to her in the Chamber of Secrets.
"Did –" Arthur managed to stammer, holding onto his wife. The healer nodded.
Arthur swore, but Molly didn't even care.
All that mattered was that Ginny was back.
Later, when Arthur was in his office, Kingsley came to visit him.
"Arthur, we tried everything we could. You knew we couldn't have told Muggle authorities. It was very difficult, even for us."
"I know," Arthur sighed, "but it just feels as if I failed my children. I don't know what to do. I know that not all the Muggles are the same, far from it, but I can't even tell anyone outside the family about what happened. Ron's nearly in pieces. Molly – I have no clue what to do."
Kingsley tried to cheer Arthur a bit by saying, "When the Muggle authorities arrested – him – at his house when he was trying to start his van, they found evidence linking him to the murders of several other children." Arthur winced, but Kingsley held a hand up. "They found the bodies of two children so far, where Ginny had been, where we managed to tell the police – before modifying them – and they're looking on a hill for a third. This is going to bring closure to many Muggle families, Arthur. That's more than what most wizards have done."
Arthur sighed. "I still don't feel any better."
Kingsley then held out something for Arthur. "This is the winning ticket for a holiday in Egypt. After everything that's happened over the past two months, I think it's the least you and your family deserve. A change of scenery might do everyone good."
Then he added as an afterthought, "Don't let Ron into what happened to his sister. He's still a bit young to understand. Just reassure him that everything is alright. If she ever knows what happened to her, it might have dire consequences."
And as Arthur felt Kingsley's office, the wizard sighed and hoped that this would be the last danger that the Weasleys would have to face.
But he knew the truth would likely be far from this.
Meanwhile, Livingstone sat in his jail cell. His lawyer was coming soon and he was furious about all of this. How could he have been found out? Who sent the call?
He had asked the police arresting him if they had information because they found a girl in the fields. But they'd said they couldn't find the girl.
"You have to," he'd argued, confused, "I took her two days ago. Ginny Weasley, aged eleven. I think she's a gypsy or something, because I never found anything about her in the newspaper."
The policeman had raised an eyebrow. "There was no girl in the fields and believe me, we searched thoroughly." he spat at Livingstone, before he turned and left the room.
How could that girl - that girl, he thought with disgust and concept, who managed to get me caught - have simply disappeared like that? She seemed to have come from nowhere and had disappeared into thin air. Was she even a ghost? He brushed those thoughts away as another police officer had walked in and stood by him.
But he didn't need to think about her for long.