The night is still.
No breeze. No voices. No life in any of the houses. No feet on the pavement. Street lamps unlit. No breathing except for her own.
Just the quiet.
That's how she knows there are wizards in the area.
And without even thinking about it, her hand goes to her gun.
She doesn't want to deal with them, not tonight. Doesn't want to hear a whisper and have to duck and shoot, no matter how many times she's practiced it. But it's wizards, and if they're there, they must be killed. Wizards, with their robes and magic wands. Wizards who think they can just waltz into her world.
She takes a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Walk.
There's no point in listening. Their cloaking spells will cover them. She's just a ghost, walking through their midst. Blind. Two levels of reality, stacked on top of each other. Which one is real?
But they can't hurt her this way either. Unless—
And then she flings herself down and the light passes over her head and she rolls over and she's firing BANG BANG and there's a shout of pain and she rolls as two more beams of green light pass her and then she's rolling rolling rolling and then she's on her feet and fires again and the man in robes goes down.
And there's terror terror terror and a whisper. Muggle. Outnumbered. So she runs. Runs towards the main road, dancing back and forth because she knows the light deadly deadly light is coming. And then she's on pavement, firing over her shoulder, but they're too far away now. Feet crush the leaves that cling to the lattice as she scrambles up on a roof, hoping for a better place to shoot from.
A house. Empty empty empty. Emptied with a wave of a wand. And maybe a few miles away there are other towns, once bursting with magic, now gutted by fire and bombs.
Because they thought they could take what they would. They're wrong.
She clings to the chimney, leans around it, raising her gun. And then they come out in force.
And her red brick shield explodes, and she's raising a hand to cover her face and shooting shooting everywhere.
And a fragment hits her in the forehead and she falls backwards and the night sky spins above her and everything blurs and she can almost hear the crack as her head hits the pavement.
The blood of four people mingles on the street.