Harry paced the worn floor of Grimmauld place, brow in a deep furrow. He reached the wall and went to turn to resume the loop when he suddenly kicked the baseboard in anger, swearing.
Someone tapped on the doorframe behind him and Harry spun. Hermione stood in the doorway looking wary.
“Harry?” she asked tentatively.
“What is it?” he asked, snapping tiredly.
“There are new reports waiting for you in the kitchen,” she told him, moving farther into the room.
Harry sighed and turned away, stalking to the window. He looked out at the dim street and knew no one could see him. The lights in the apartment across the street flickered out and Harry watched as others followed. Muggles were remarkably predictable.
“We don’t deserve this, Hermione,” Harry said quietly.
Harry cut her off with a sharp shake of his head. “We should be at Hogwarts right now. We should be in sixth year, taking all of the classes that every normal person does. We shouldn’t be here fighting the war we had no part in starting.” Harry said in a hard tone, balling his fists at his sides.
“Harry, you know the adults are trying to help,” Hermione said placatingly.
“Help by hiding in Hogwarts? By fleeing the country? The only adult we’ve seen in a month is Lupin and he only stayed for a few days,” Harry said bitterly. “Face it, Hermione. They’ve left us to fight their war and you know as well as I do that it isn’t going well.”
Hermione’s face fell. “I thought you still had hope.”
Harry looked away. He replied softly, “I don’t know what I have anymore. All I know is that killing Voldemort is a near impossible task. Dumbledore promised he would tell me how before that-”
Hermione cut through his swear word with a sharp, “Harry!”
“-Snape killed him,” Harry finished, seething.
“You really don’t think you can kill him?” Hermione asked, biting her lip.
Harry shook his head. “It’s not like I haven’t been trying.” He turned to Hermione with a defeated look in his eye. “Maybe we should just give up. Give in. Let them do whatever they want. They’ve won.”
“Not yet,” Hermione insisted, stepping closer. “They haven’t won yet, not while we’re still here.”
“Here? What good are we doing here?” Harry demanded. “We haven’t had a single lead let alone a good battle in months! The Death Eaters are impossible to catch especially by a group of kids who know nothing about fighting.”
“We know enough,” Hermione protested. “Think of how much we’ve learned in the past few months!”
“Lot of good it’ll do us when He kills us.”
“Are you really going to give up?” Hermione asked softly after a pause. “You know you’re the only thing keeping the DA together. If you give up, everyone will lose hope.”
Harry turned to look out the window again. “None of you should be here. It was stupid for you to drop out of school.”
“From what I hear, Hogwarts isn’t much better than a war zone. It might actually be better if you let the fifth years and younger join us here too. Ginny says it’s awful,” she said with a frown.
“They’re too young. After the attack last year where Colin and...” Harry trailed off, obviously pained. Just thinking of the night when he had been persuaded to let the younger kids fight made his stomach churn. What had seemed like a simple attack by two Death Eaters had gotten very bad, very fast. Harry shivered. “We’re too young.”
Hermione stepped over and took his arm gently. “There’s nothing we can do about that. Come on, maybe this will be the day we get a good piece of information.”
“Right,” Harry replied skeptically, allowing himself to be led from the room.
As he and Hermione approached the balcony and the stairs that led to the ground floor, Harry straightened, assuming the authoritative, confident persona that the others had come to expect from him. In the beginning, it came naturally. Now, it was a constant, wearying struggle. Hermione released his arm, used to his adoption of a brave façade. Harry walked down the stairs and was instantly surrounded by several people.
“Harry, there are letters for you in the kitchen,” Lavender Brown told him as he stepped onto the landing.
“Thank you, Lavender, I’ll get them now,” Harry replied easily.
“I made some dinner for you too, you never ate,” Paravati told him.
“I’m not hungry but I appreciate it,” Harry said, giving her a small smile as he moved to the kitchen with them in tow.
As he stepped into the long room, Harry noted that several faces were missing.
“Where are Dean and Seamus?” Harry asked Ron who sat talking with Ernie Macmillan.
“They went off to scout that warehouse,” Ron supplied. “You know, the one from that tip off-”
“I know which one,” Harry said, waving him off. He took a seat. “I thought we already looked at that and found nothing.”
“We did. Well, Neville and I did, anyway,” Ron answered. “I guess they didn’t trust the fact that we didn’t find anything,” he said with a twinge of annoyance.
“That and they were disappointed,” Ernie spoke up. “That was the last thing that seemed like it might pan out and they were reluctant to let it go so easily.”
“I just wish they weren’t so eager to take risks,” Harry said with a frown.
“They’re looking for payback,” Ernie said. “Revenge.”
Harry frowned. He couldn’t blame them; he longed for revenge himself. “Where are these letters I’m to read?”
“Here,” Ron said, pushing over a small basket with three or four envelopes inside. “The top ones are the usual paranoid people responding to Fred and George’s radio plea but the bottom one’s from Shacklebolt.”
Harry nodded and ripped the top one open, confirming that it, as well as the next two, was an unfounded, very sketchy Death Eater sighting. Harry sighed, knowing that even if he believed there was truth behind it, by the time they got to the location the Death Eaters would be gone.
“The usual nutcases?” Ron asked, head on his fist as he munched on a dry cookie.
“Yeah,” Harry replied, picking up the one from Shacklebolt.
Harry drew his finger across the wax seal, breaking it open. He withdrew the sheet of parchment and read the note that he recognized as in Shacklebolt’s slanted hand.
There is word from a reliable source that Snape is hiding out in a small town on the outskirts of Kirkham. The Auror’s office is extremely understaffed due to the recent attacks upon which we are now ordered to focus our attention. I am not suggesting that you go seek him out, in fact I implore you not to. I am giving you this information so that you can relay to the Order. Our intelligence suggests that he intends to wait out the war there so, with any luck, the Order can take action at their earliest convenience.
Harry clenched his sweaty fists on the edge of the parchment.
“You okay, mate?” Ron asked in concern.
“Shacklebolt’s told us where Snape is,” Harry said. He growled, “And told us not to go after him.”
“What?” Ron demanded as the room broke out into noise from arguments, chatter and exclamations of outrage.
Harry had to strongly resist the urge to throw the paper into the fire, knowing that he shouldn’t destroy the information held upon it.
“How can he ask that of me?” Harry demanded, anger rising. “He killed Dumbledore! He destroyed my only hope of defeating Voldemort!” Harry fumed.
“You really want to fight Snape though?” Ron asked, seeming drained and wary. “Not that I think you can’t win...” he added quickly after seeing the expression upon Harry’s face.
“Send this to McGonagall,” Harry said, face turning stony as he thrust the letter at Lavender. “I have to pack.”
“You have to what?” Ron demanded. Hermione came up behind him with a look of shock.
“I’m going to hunt Snape down,” Harry said with a snarl.
“Harry, you can’t do that! We need you here,” Hermione cried.
“Need me for what? We aren’t doing anything useful and, here, we’ve finally got a lead and by Merlin, I’m taking it!” Harry shouted over the noise in the room.
“Don’t you think we should let an adult handle this?” Ernie asked, seeming annoyed.
“No,” Harry snapped. “I’m through with waiting for adults.”
“Why are you in charge anyway?” Ernie challenged.
“BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS DEAD!” Harry screamed, causing instant silence to spread throughout the room. Harry could feel his heart pumping in his chest. Moody, Tonks, Dumbledore, Charlie...Sirius. All dead. “I don’t want this. I can’t do this anymore. I am going after Snape and I’m going alone. You should all go back to Hogwarts.”
Silence reigned in the room. Everyone stared mutely at Harry for several long minutes.
“We’ll wait for you, Harry.” Hermione said softly. “Take the time you need, but come back to us.”
Harry looked at her and felt a rush of gratitude. “I should go.”
He turned from the room and went upstairs to pack a bag. His thoughts flew around as he tossed some clothes in a pack, not knowing how long he would be gone. He was angry; that much was certain. Harry was certainly angry at Shacklebolt even though he had warned them that information may have to be passed through Grimmauld place to the Order contacts. The suspected Order members were far too heavily monitored for him to get a note to them but Grimmauld Place had its own secrets.
For the first few weeks, Harry and the others had expected Snape to reveal Grimmauld Place and thereby compromise their hiding place but he had not. It was not until Lupin’s visit that they found out that Dumbledore had made him swear an Unbreakable vow not to tell. Dumbledore should have made him swear a vow not to kill him, Harry thought bitterly, tossing a scarf into his pack.
Harry needed his revenge. Harry thought back to the moments after he had watched Snape kill Dumbledore. He had made a vow to himself that Snape would feel the same pain that he had upon watching someone that he loved die in front of him. After thinking that, he had felt a surge of magic and, without realizing it, had cast a charm. He was bound to get revenge on Snape. There was nothing that he could do to resist.
Not that he wanted to.
AN: If you like this story, be sure to favorite it! That counts as a vote for the Writing Games in which I (I'mNotReadyForThis) am the tribute for District 10 and Annabeth Shadownight is my mentor. Spread the word! Harry Potter may yet survive his first Writing Games :)