"A Shove Towards Insanity"
A/N: Well, here it is as promised: the first chapter of A Shove Towards Insanity. This is the un-edited version, as we're waiting for cyropi to send it back, but I wanted to just test out the first chapter to see what kind of feedback we'd get! I wrote this chapter, and ms.understood (Nicole) is writing the next, so we'll probably just switch off like that. Mmkay, please review because we need some feedback! We're not positive of the length between updates, but with school coming up, we'll eventually set one. Have fun and REVIEW!
Chapter 1 – "At Spinner's End"
"Harry, can we please slow down for a bit?" pleaded an exasperated Hermione, adjusting the magical bag that was slung over her shoulder into a more comfortable position.
"Yeah, mate, at least fill us in on exactly where we're going!" Ron chimed in, running up and catching his friend's elbow, forcing him to stop.
Harry looked back at Ron with an extremely irritated expression, but obliged and stopped in his tracks.
"Oh, thank you," said Hermione, sitting down on the curb and looking up at Harry with a curious air, setting the bag down beside her.
"Yes, Harry, don't you think you ought to explain before we proceed any further?" Remus Lupin said. "They do, after all, have a right to know what's going on."
Harry stared at him, his tongue moistening his top lip, thinking.
After the students had returned to their homes, Harry only stayed at the Dursley's for a fortnight, just like he did the previous summer. Some members of the Order, including Lupin and Kingsley, had come to fetch him just as Dumbledore had done. Harry had expected to return to number 12, Grimmauld Place, but to his surprise, Lupin and Kingsley had led him to another building, one which Harry had never seen before. This, he supposed, was to be the new headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. According to Lupin, Grimmauld Place was not safe anymore.
"Severus knows where the house is," he had told Harry plainly, "And, as Dumbledore was our Secret Keeper, the curse has been broken. But no matter, I've been appointed that responsibility, and this place will do for now."
Harry and the Order all lodged at these new headquarters, so Harry didn't hesitate to tell them all what Dumbledore had taught and showed him the previous year. He had explained to them in detail every memory he had seen, everything about the Horcruxes, and everything about his and Dumbledore's recent and final adventure. To Harry's surprise, the Order seemed to know most of what he had told them.
"Dumbledore explained about the Horcruxes the minute he recruited the Order back together," Mad-Eye Moody had explained. "He was just waiting for the right time to tell you, I reckon."
Harry also hurried to tell them about his plans to seek out the remaining four Horcruxes, and how he wanted to start out his search at Godric's Hollow. Again, to his surprise, no one had objected.
"Of course," they had said to him, nodding gravely. They all had spent the next couple of weeks planning and preparing for their extraordinary adventure, the only thing interrupting it being Bill and Fleur's wedding ceremony, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione's apparition test. All three of them had passed.
Ron and Hermione had not been able to come to the new headquarters before this time; Ron's mother insisted that he stay home at least until the wedding, and Hermione had chosen to stay with her parents until that time as well, as none of them knew how long they'd be gone. After the wedding, all three of them returned to the Order's headquarters, and Ron and Hermione immediately joined in happily in the preparation to go to Godric's Hollow.
"Fine," Harry said finally, returning his mine to the present time, "Can we keep walking as I talk, at least?" Harry looked pointedly at Ron and Hermione, who were both looking exhausted.
"Sure," said Ron, immediately joining Harry's side. The group turned to stare at Hermione, who was still sitting on the curb, looking reluctant.
Harry raised his eyebrow at her.
"Oh, oh, alright!" she said angrily, picking up the magical bag and once again positioning it over her shoulder.
"Good, let's move, then. The quicker we get to the spot, the better," said the deep voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
They all resumed their pace, Lupin walking hand in hand with a young woman, whose hair was bubblegum pink, her heart shaped face smiling cheerfully.
It had originally only been Kingsley and Lupin who were to accompany Harry, Ron, and Hermione on their journey, but Tonks had insisted that she come along. Harry knew she wanted to help, but he thought he knew the real reason Tonks had put her foot down when she had learned that Lupin would be away for an unknown amount of time.
"Ok, what do you want to know, then?" Harry asked Ron and Hermione, knowing it was an extremely stupid question to ask, as he knew exactly what they were wanting answered.
"Well, where are we going, first off?" Ron asked.
"Spinner's End," Harry answered shortly, continuing to look straight ahead.
"Where?" asked Hermione.
"Spinner's End," Harry repeated, "It's Snape's house."
A shocked silence followed this statement.
"Snape's house?" Hermione asked, looking taken aback. "But, Harry, I thought we were going to Godric's Hollow before anything?"
"We were, until we found out that Severus has been keeping another house all to himself," said Lupin, looking at Hermione. "None of the Order ever knew or heard of this place, until now, of course," he added.
"But how did you find out about it?" Ron inquired, looking confused.
"Kreacher," said Harry flatly.
"Kreacher?" gasped Hermione, face now matching the look of puzzlement on Ron's. "How did Kreacher –"
"Remember the time he had disappeared two Christmases ago?" said Tonks in an out-of-place cheery voice.
Ron and Hermione nodded.
"Well, he had stayed at the Malfoy's, hadn't he? With Mrs. Malfoy, right? Well, Kreacher seemed to have over-heard some interesting conversations during his little visit," said Lupin.
"Oh," said Ron, frowning, "well, at least he's some good use, right?"
Hermione gave him the faintest of scowls, but you could tell her heart was not in it. Lupin smiled softly.
"How'd you get it out of him?" Ron asked as the all turned a corner and walked down a deserted Muggle street.
"Well, I'm his Master, aren't I?" said Harry, "We heard Kreacher muttering under his breath as we were searching for other possible locations. When we heard a glimpse of something he said about Snape, I ordered him to tell me everything he had found out when he had stayed at the Malfoy's."
"Do we know how to get there?" asked Hermione.
"We managed to piece everything Kreacher knew together, and with a few useful spells, we were able to locate it," Kingsley added, making Hermione and Ron jump; they had forgotten he was there. "At least, we know enough to find the basic location. It's most likely we won't get to the exact place," he added as an afterthought.
"So," Hermione started in a small voice, "do we know where Snape – or anybody else – is? How do we know he's not at his home right now?"
"We don't," said Tonks. "But we're thinking that Snape and the others are probably not sitting at home, lounging, instead of serving their – master," Tonks spat the last word mockingly.
There was silence that followed Tonks' statement; everyone seemed to have been reminded of the dangerous risk they were taking.
After a while, Ron spoke, "We're not walking to, uh – Spooner's Point, are we?"
"Spinner's End," Harry corrected, still not looking at anyone, "And no, we're not. We're just moving to a place to apparate. In case you haven't noticed, we were right smack middle of a Muggle town, so, we needed to find a more deserted place."
Ron nodded, looking a bit paler than he had when they'd started their journey.
The six of them walked on, breathing heavily against the mean hills, and squinting their eyes as the sun slowly started to sink into nothingness, the whole while none of them talking, their silence only being broken by the very distant shouts or lawn mowers of the people in the apartments they had passed.
Hermione was scratching at her arm, trying to swat away the bothersome mosquitoes that were flying about them, Ron kept casting nervous glances at Harry, who was still gazing straight ahead, Tonks and Lupin were still holding hands, and Kingsley walked gruffly next to Harry.
"Just up here," said Lupin, making everyone jump at the sudden sound of his voice. He was pointing about two-hundred feet ahead, to where a large area of field and weeds lay in the middle of old, broken down buildings.
Ron looked as if he were about to be sick. When Harry and Hermione gave him questioning looks, he said, "Well, we – uh – we've only just passed our Apparition Test, and, uh, well, we're going a bit further then we're used to, aren't we?"
"You'll be fine, Ron," said Lupin, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Just concentrate, stay focused, and remember the three –"
"The three D's, yeah, I remember," said Harry, looking over at Lupin with a small smile on his lips that didn't quite reach his vivid green eyes.
Lupin smiled his soft smile back at Harry, nodding his head. "Exactly," he said, "Now…just concentrate on 'Spinner's End', do the normal routine, and then you'll be perfectly fine."
The three teenagers nodded at Lupin, and all six started spreading a bit further apart then they were before to give them some room.
"Alright, you lot," Lupin spoke again, "on the count of three, yes?"
"Yes," replied Harry and Hermione in unison. Lupin looked around to check that Ron, Tonks, and Kingsley had all agreed and understood the instructions.
When he was satisfied that the group was with him, Lupin resumed, "Alright, remember: Destination, Determination, Deliberation!" he spoke pointedly to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They nodded, all three starting to get a little impatient now and wishing that Lupin would stop stalling and get on with it. "Ok, ready? One –"
All six moved into their positions, concentrating on their desired destination.
Spinner's End, Spinner's End, Spinner's End –
And in complete unison, the four wizards and the two witches turned on the spot, feeling their way into nothingness, and then with six simultaneous pops that echoed loudly around the deserted vicinitythey disappeared without a trace left behind them.
In an instant, there was a combined pop of the group, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks and Kingsley appeared out of thin air, little ways from a black, filthy looking river. All six were looking around at each other, making sure everyone had made it safely, and when each person clarified that their five others were indeed whole and secure, they began to peer curiously around at their surroundings.
The black river of which they had landed so close was wound snake-like between overgrown banks, which had piles of rubbish strewn about it. There was a large chimney of an abandoned mill that reared up, looking shadow-covered and ominous. Ron, yet again, looked slightly green.
"Is – is this right?" Hermione asked in a small, timid voice; something about this area caused a shuddering chill to run up her spine, making the back of her neck tingle.
"We can only hope," Lupin answered her in a similar voice to Hermione's, though more soft and wary rather than frightened. The sun was just about set; they could see tiny stars start to appear next to the fully-exposed moon.
"This is it," said Harry, his voice hard and determined. Everyone's head turned in his direction, not sure how to respond.
"How can you be sure?" Tonks spoke up.
"I can't be. I just have a feeling. I'm pretty sure we're in the right place. We just have to search around for a bit, don't we?"
Nobody answered, but the air was agreeable. They waited, all gazing at Harry, silently deciding that it was best if they let him make the moves. Harry looked around for a minute, before seeming to make his decision and starting to trudge up the bank.
Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks, and Kingsley all shared a look before beginning to follow Harry. As they all got the top of the bank, they found a line of old, rusted looking railings separating the river from a very slim, cobble-stoned street. Rows and rows of ramshackle brick houses, whose windows were dull and blind in the now completely dark night, ran along the sides of the street in which they were standing. The street lamps flickered in exhaust.
"Wait," said Hermione, grabbing Harry's arm to prevent him from going any further.
"What?" Harry asked, staring at her in confusion.
"Look," is all Hermione said, peering around at the rows of houses.
"What?" he repeated, this time impatiently, after having found nothing interesting about the houses that surrounded them.
"They're – they're Muggle houses…"
Everyone did a double take, afterwards realising that Hermione had been right; there was not one single magical object around them, nothing to suggest that wizards or witches lived there.
"Well, we're at the wrong place, then, aren't we?" said Ron, squinting his eyes at a garden hose that lay curled in one of the houses yards, looking confused.
"No," said Harry softly, eyeing the houses with what seemed to be great concentration. Again, all faces turned towards his. "No, Snape wouldn't have wanted to live near wizards, would he? If this house of his was a secret, then he wouldn't want to be exposing it to people who knew him –who knew Dumbledore."
"You're right, Harry. That's very true," said Lupin thoughtfully, a mildly impressed look on his face.
"So, how do we figure out which one's Snape's?" growled Kingsley.
"Locus,"said Hermione at once, looking between Kingsley, Tonks, and Lupin for conformation. "The spell Locus: to locate someone, right?"
Lupin smiled, nodding, "Indeed, Hermione, indeed," he said, looking amused. He pulled his wand out from his robe and pointed it into the air, seemingly at nothing in particular, and uttered, "Locus: Severus Snape!"
A green wisp of light burst from the tip of Lupin's wand, halted for a moment, sputtered, and died.
"What happened?" asked Harry, annoyed: he just wanted to get on with what he had come for.
"Hmm, I'm not sure," said Lupin, frowning and lowering his wand.
"It could be protected!" said Tonks, "Snape could have placed a barrier that deflected locater spells."
They all considered this; yes, it would seem something Snape would have done. He was, after all, exceedingly intelligent.
"So, what do we do?" asked Ron, his voice somewhat hoarser than usual.
"We could search the old-fashioned, muggle way," suggested Tonks. "You know, peeking through windows and that kind of thing," she looked slightly amused as she said this, obviously poking fun at this extremely inefficient way of getting something done.
"Oh, wait!" Hermione exclaimed suddenly, whipping out her own wand and crying, "Vestigium Veneficus!"
Another light shot out of the tip of Hermione's wand, similar to Lupin's failed Locater Spell, but this one did not sputter and die. The light flew threw the air like a firework, only horizontally, about twenty feet ahead of them. It turned sharply to the left, going down another street named Spinner's End, over which the towering mill chimney hovered. The group quickly started to run, making sure they didn't lose it. The light zoomed straight to the very last house, and when it had reached it, burst into thousands of tiny, shimmering sparks, raining upon the house is question.
"Well, that worked," said Ron in awe, looking at the house that the spell had showered upon.
Hermione beamed, not even attempting to hide the look of pride and smugness that her spell had been useful.
"Nice one, Hermione!" cried Tonks in glee, also beaming.
Kingsley nodded at her, smiling slightly, and Lupin said, "Well done, Hermione, very well done."
Harry turned to grin at Hermione, who grinned back, and then questioned, "What was that spell?"
"Well, it's a magic tracer. The spell will go immediately to the first trace of magic it finds, except it only goes for objects, not people," she recited proudly, still grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
"And," added Lupin, "It's been used numerous times by Aurors. It's useful if one wants to find a wizard in disguise, quite like our situation here," he gestured toward the house.
"Ok, then, shall we carry on?" Harry pressed in, eagerly.
"We shall," said Lupin, "but first…" he pulled out of his robes a piece of parchment, slightly ripped and bent at the edges from being shoved into a pocket.
Lupin unrolled it, pointed his wand tip at its face, and muttered a quick succession of words that neither of the rest could hear. After a few moments, just as Ron was going to ask Lupin what on earth he was doing, the parchment glowed; red light illuminated everyone's faces in the semi-darkness, followed by a ring of gold around it, and then disappeared as soon as it had come.
Shocked silence followed. Everyone was staring at the piece of parchment which was now covered with curling black ink, forming itself into shapes and angels. Harry recognized the form of which the ink was settling itself at once.
"Is that the Marauder's Map?" he asked, aghast.
"Similar to," said Lupin, smiling serenely down at Harry. "But instead of Hogwarts, this map is showing us right here," he gestured around the street.
"Wow," whispered Hermione, her eyes wide in amazement.
"So…" continued Lupin, "we can now see if our predicament was correct is thinking that neither Severus nor any of the Death Eaters are there. Let's see."
Harry, Ron, and Hermione pressed closer together so they could get a better look.
Rosanne Winkman, Francis Otto, Edith Otto, Mr. Rogers (the dog), and Charlotte Eberly, were a few that they had seen but, they noticed as they scanned the map closer, there didn't seem to be anybody in Snape's house.
What they didn't notice, however, as the patches of dark caused by the broken street lamps had prevented them from seeing it, were two small dots sitting in one of the rooms of Snape's house. The dots were labeled: Draco Malfoy and Peter Pettigrew.
"I don't see anyone," said Hermione, her brows furrowed.
"Nor do I," said Lupin, tapping the map and causing it to go blank. He straightened up, as did the others, and looked closely at the end of the street.
"So let's go, then! We have the spells to break the sensors, don't we? The stealth sensors?" Harry asked, his green eyes seeming to glow in the flickering light cast by the street lamps.
"Yes, we do," said Kingsley.
"Ok, then! Let's go!" said Harry.
Lupin's lined face looked down carefully upon Harry. It almost looked as though Lupin was going to say something in protest, but then he said, "Yes. Alright, then."
The remaining four that didn't have their wands out retrieved them, and positioned them at the alert.
Harry and Lupin took the lead, slowly making their way to the last house of the street and stepping upon its lawn. Harry, Lupin, and the others walked straight up to the front door, leaving a few feet between them and it, incase of wide-range sensors.
The three Aurors all raised there wands, and uttered the same spell, "Declino Obex!"
Transparent, silvery light was created from all three wands and excited with a soft poof. The three separate lights all joined together, forming what looked like a protective shield around the house. It seemed to do nothing for a few minutes but glitter softly in the moonlight. Then, it vanished.
"Did it work?" asked Harry quizzically.
"Yes, it did, but, strange as it is, there doesn't seem to be any protective spell here," said Lupin, looking as puzzled as Harry. "But, of course, it could just be for muggles…"
"So it's safe, then?" questioned Hermione, starting to shiver a bit in the cool night air.
"Yes, it seems so," Lupin answered, taking a step towards the door and placing his hand upon the doorknob. He paused, not noticing that Harry, Ron, Hermione, Tonks, and Kingsley were all staring at him anxiously.
Lupin gave the knob a turn, muttered something, and then gave the door a push. To everyone's amazement, the door flew open without any objection. Lupin swiped his wand around the door frame, but nothing happened. He turned back to the others and, with a nod of his head, beckoned them to enter. Harry, Ron, and Hermione crept into the house, followed by Tonks and Kingsley. Quietly, Lupin shut the door behind him.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked around. They had entered directly into a sitting room, rather tiny, which gave them all the impression of a dark, padded cell.
"Ooh!" whispered Hermione, but with a spark of delight.
Harry and Ron looked to where she was pointing; the walls were completely covered in books, most of them covered in rotting leather; a tattered sofa, an old armchair, and a rotting, rickety table were grouped close together, illuminated by a dim light cast by a large, candle-filled lamp that hung from the ceiling.
"Yeah, this is definitely Snape's place," muttered Kingsley darkly, observing one of the books on the shelves entitled: Poisons and Curses: Various Ways to Torture Your Victim.
Hermione joined Kingsley in examining the books upon the walls, but Harry, Ron, Lupin, and Tonks spread out to inspect the other strange things that resided in Snape's house.
"Look at these," said Harry quietly, pointing towards a shelf in which there were various jars filled with different coloured liquids, rather like those that used to be in Snape's office at Hogwarts.
"Yuck!" said Ron, pointing to one of the jars. Harry looked at it, making a face; a large, oddly flat eyeball (though it looked hardly like that of a humans) that glowed a sinister red was floating in the thick, jelly-like goop.
"Let's go in here," Harry whispered to Ron and Hermione, who joined him at once. The adults were clustered around a large dusty tome, muttering quickly under their breaths, oblivious to the teenagers.
They entered another room, slightly smaller than the one they had just come from, more square than the previous had been round. Its walls, instead of book-covered stone, were instead dressed in peeling wallpaper, which looked gloomy and solemn. There was a large, wooden door to the right of them, but it was closed, so they couldn't see where it led to. In this room, there were more jars filled with even more gruesome objects, and there was a slight stench radiating off of them. There was no furniture except for a single chair, a wooden desk which was pressed up against the south end of the wall, and a golden-arched mirror.
Harry and Ron turned to find Hermione squatting in front of what looked like an incredibly thick book that was lying, opened about halfway, on the grimy, dusty wooden floor.
"What is it?" asked Harry, joining her at her side and also examining the book.
"I don't know, it must be a book Snape's reading, or something," she said softly, flicking through the pages.
Harry caught glimpses of phrases like "one of the most brutal attacks of the century", or, "the largest batch of muggles killed by a single person: 200"
"What is this book?" said Harry in disgust, as he read the line, "Horance, smug with his superb success, kept an eye and a foot from one of the muggles he slaughtered"
Hermione closed the book as to check the cover. "Famous Murders of the Ages: A Wizard's Triumph," she read, scowling, "These people are so –"
But Harry never got to hear what exactly "those people" were, because at that moment, there came a "Sssh!" from behind them. Hermione and Harry looked around. Ron was standing dead still, like a dear in the headlights, a look of pure terror upon his face.
"Ron, what –"
"SSH!" Ron repeated, cocking his head to the side, as if trying to hear a mouse.
And then Harry and Hermione heard it too, they went stone still, their hearts pounding against their chests as they heard voices. Not a high female voice like Tonks', not Lupin's smooth calmness, not even Kingsley's booming, deep voice; a drawling voice was talking angrily through the closed door, getting closer and closer.
"How many times, you filthy man, do I have to tell you that I don't need you following me around!" the drawling voice said.
"But, young sir, Professor Snape and your own Mother told me strictly to look after you!" answered another voice, a new voice; squeaky and timid.
"Do I look like I give a damn what Snape or my Mother say, Pettigrew?" snapped the first voice.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione all looked at each other, too shocked to move.
Harry motioned for Ron to go get Lupin or Tonks or Kingsley, but before Ron was able to move so much as a step, the door in which the voices were coming from swung open, and Ron froze.
None other than Draco Malfoy protruded out of the hall behind the door, followed by, as Harry, Ron, and Hermione had heard, Peter Pettigrew.
Please, let the others hear, let them hear and come to help…
"Now, Pettigrew, leave me be or I'll –" Draco had turned to face the room and spotted Harry and Hermione, still squatted by the now closed book, and Ron, feet away from the doorframe, each looking as though they were made of stone.
"What is it, young sir, what – ooh!" Wormtail squeaked as he saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
There was a long silence, every one of them too shocked to utter a single word.
"What the –" Malfoy began, his face turning scarlet with rage and confusion, but before he could finish his sentence, the members of the Order had come into the room.
Thank you…thank you, thank you, thank you…
Malfoy and Wormtail turned to gaze at them. Lupin's face darkened as he spotted Wormtail.
Without so much as a warning, Malfoy raised his wand.
Hermione sprang up suddenly, and to everyone's amazement she hurdled toward Malfoy, knocking him to the ground and into the shelves which held the jars full of ominous objects, and they crashed to the ground, Malfoy's wand shooting out of his hand and landing some five feet away.
This seemed to be the starter for everyone else, because right as Malfoy and Hermione crumpled to the ground, the rest jumped and made a move towards Wormtail, who squeaked, and tried to scuttle back into the room from which he came, only to be petrified by Kingsley. Wormtail's body went as stiff as a board, and he crashed to the ground, unable to move anything. Hermione was struggling to pin Malfoy the ground.
"Get off me, MUDBLOOD!" Malfoy screamed in rage, as Hermione pinned him with all her might, and Harry and Ron came rushing to help. In his fury, Malfoy was trying to shake her off of him, banging into the shelves behind him.
Hermione bit her lip and, with much thought put into it, struck Malfoy across the face. However, Hermione fist barely grazed Malfoy's nose, which seemed to infuriate him more. Malfoy struggled more to push Hermione off of him, causing some of the items on the shelf to fall and shatter.
"Hermione!" screamed Ron, rushing towards her, but, too late; a small vial had tipped over on the shelf, smashing, but it's contents oozed downward, enveloping Malfoy and Hermione with thick, gray goop.
There was a loud sizzling noise, and everyone looked toward Hermione and Malfoy. The sizzling grew louder and louder until finally – CRACK!
Everyone gaped in horror at Hermione and Malfoy.
A/N: Yes, we're evil. Cliffhangers are our best friend. Except for when we're not the one writing them. Alrighty, I'm rather proud of this chapter so I hope you like it! Please review! I need some feedback! I wrote this chapter, and ms.understood is writing the next! We're probably going to switch off. Toodles!
A/N: Yes, well, Tayz basically wrote the whole damn thing because she has the patience of an emu, but that's okay. I still love her. Next one might be a bit different (suckier) because yours truly will be writing a fair bit of it. But I hope you enjoyed the chapter and let us know what you think. (And don't listen if my co-author says I don't have any confidence and am actually a good writer. Believe me, I'm not.) So, look for the next installment soon, because, as I've said, patience of an emu and all that jazz
Tayz: Shut up, Nicole. Yes you are. Yes she is, readers.