Harry wasn't bothered.
Really, he didn't care.
He didn't care what the consequences would be if this was all just an elaborate trap and he would be caught.
Didn't care at all about going back to tell Ron and Hermione or anyone else what had happened and where he had gone.
He definitely didn't care about the handful of Muggles that had almost had a heart attack after seeing him vanish with a loud cracking noise, or about the other handful of Muggles that saw him appear out of thin air with an identical 'crack' in the middle of a Muggle street a split second later.
He was too busy wildly casting a murderous gaze around, wearing a most frightening expression on his face, breathing hard and storming off like an enraged hippogriff into the other direction to give them any notice.
He could not even bring himself to care about the penalty he would most likely receive from the Ministry for Apparating in front of Muggles, just one week after getting his official Apparation license.
They would probably need to send a team of Obliviators soon too, if he had to go by the gasps and shrieks of disbelief that exploded behind his fast-retreating back.
He knew he was probably going to regret his rash decision making sooner rather than later.
He knew that the dark angry cloud that hovered on the edge of his mind, contributing to his already incensed state, was probably an indication that he should not have been making decisions in the first place.
He was pretty sure that he perhaps should take note of the little nagging voice (which sounded remarkably like Hermione) that was buzzing some where near the edge of his consciousness.
It was trying to convince him that he was being unreasonable and should just stop to think for a second before he got himself killed in a most unpleasant way.
It was probably right, he thought resentfully, but right now he really didn't give a shit.
The buzzing was persistently getting louder with every step he took towards his purpose.
It was getting more frantic the closer he got, begging him to 'Please listen and think about how it would be better to form a plan first instead of flying head first into a doubtlessly less than advisable position.'
He ignored it completely with a vicious snarl directed inwards, willing the Hermione-like-voice to shut up.
Because he really did not care.
Not right now anyway.
Because right now, the overwhelming roar ringing in his ears, egging him on, seething with vengeance and boiling over with uncontrollable pent up rage, droned out any clear thought his mind was able to form.
And he was grateful for it. Grateful that he didn't have to feel anything else but this scorching ferocity, because he wasn't at all sure what would happen if it left him.
He revelled in his state of fury, pleased with the feeling of invincibility that came with it.
It possessed his spirit, and tainted it a dark black, making him believe that he could take on anything at all.
Even if Voldemort himself spontaneously decided to materialise out of the flowering shrub that stood just to his right, he was certain that he would be able to strike him down with a well aimed Avada Kedavra and blow him to little bits and pieces once and for all, in one magnificently terrible blow, without bothering with Horcruxes.
He gave the bush one last suspicious glance, willing Voldemort to appear so he could have it all over and done with. Before continuing his determined stride along Benedict Lane until he came to a juncture in the road, where he turned left into a narrow street called Spinner's End.
The sky was radiating with rich warm colours that marked the end of what should have been a wonderful summer's day.
Really, it should have been perfect.
A perfect day where he, for the last time, would be able to see all of his friends together laughing and enjoying each other's company, celebrating the bonding of two souls so obviously in love.
And it had been perfect really, just for a little while;
The back garden of The Burrow, transformed by the astonishing decorations made by the twins' ingenuity, shimmering in the bright light of the sun.
Overflowing champagne and a ridiculous amount of mouth-watering food which had taken Mrs. Weasley weeks to prepare, leaving everyone gasping in pleasure with every new delicious flavour discovered by indulged taste buds.
Ginny's fiery red hair that clashed prettily against her purple dress as she walked to the altar with Gabrielle, whose dress was of the same shade, holding immense bouquets of wild white daffodils that smelled of spring, grass and the burning sun.
Mr. Weasley's proud face as he looked upon his eldest son promising his vows to his soon-to-be wife, apparently stocked with a never ending supply of handkerchiefs that he handed to a blubbering Molly Weasley clinging to his arm on regular intervals.
Fleur's snow-white gown, which flowed around her like a sea of white, soft rose petals as she twirled in Bill's arms when they danced for the first time as husband and wife.
Bill's hearty laugh as he accepted congratulations and slaps on the back from his friends, while he kept gazing passionately at his wife with eyes that shone with love and devotion.
Countless streams of freckled redheads amongst silvery blond, accepting each other readily into their families with pride.
It should have been perfect, and it had been, when being with Ron and Hermione, laughing and talking about nothing in particular, had made him feel happier then he had in months.
Finally able to forget the building pressure that had been resting on his shoulders, like a sleeping Hungarian Horntail with an alarm clock hanging over its head, for a couple of hours.
He hadn't thought of Voldemort, he hadn't thought of prophecies or Horcruxes or about Dumbledore, who should have been sitting next to Professor McGonagall with his twinkling blue eyes that penetrated souls, offering people lemon drops.
Even Percy, that humungous prat, had made the day a little more perfect by showing up, even if it was just for a short while.
He had almost had it too, his one last golden day.
He hadn't cared about tomorrow or the day after that. All he had known was that moment, his attention focussing on every single perfect detail, absorbing and cherishing it with an intangible air of a man living his last minute on earth, trying to take in as many different things he could to take with him to the land of the dead.
And after that who knew?
After that he would have faced his fears, dealt with the prophecies, evil Dark Lords, and treacherous, two-faced, hooked-nosed spies.
But at least it would have been on his terms, he would have been ready.
He should have known better, though. Perfect things had never lasted long in his damnable life, so why should today have been any different?
He should have expected Voldemort to refuse him this, this little peace of mind, this anchor of light in the steadfastly sinking abyss that was his existence.
He trembled with unrestrained animosity as he marched on, wand clenched in his left hand, and a piece of yellowed parchment in the other, kneading the flimsy paper on the same steady beat of the grinding of his teeth. The only distinguishable sounds were of his boots echoing loudly on the paved street, as he walked resolutely along the dilapidated houses of Spinner's End.
So why had he been so surprised, he mused, why had /everyone/, for that matter, allowed themselves to be caught off guard so badly?
Had it all just been happiness for the striking young couple, or was it that everyone had wanted this day to be perfect as badly as Harry, that they had turned a blind eye to imposing danger?
The day had gone from being perfect to disastrous in a matter of seconds, when suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, the Dark Mark had shimmered in luminous shades of stabbing green across the clouds, casting dark shadows over the field of bladed grass, quickly accompanied by a small army of black robed figures with white masks.
They had been brandishing their wands in quick succession, sending bright beams ricocheting all around.
It had happened so quickly and abruptly that everyone had stood frozen, then cutting shrieks of horror, fear and pain started piercing through the warm breath of the summer breeze.
It had taken him a moment to register what was going on, for his brain to catch up with what his eyes were seeing, and by then it had already been much too late.
A light gentle wind played with the leaves of the surrounding trees, rustling Harry's hair from his face, leaving his old scar standing emblazoned on his hot skin and making his deep red dress robes, which were covered in mud, flap restlessly about.
He could hear the faint rush of water from the river that lay just to the side of the cobbled road, and smell the damp scent of the soiled stream as it travelled through his nostrils. He welcomed the sound of little waves crashing against the rocks on the steep banks of the river, as it soon joined the ever growing uproar in his mind that overpowered the Hermione-like-voice with expected ease.
He was getting close to his quarry now, just a little father.... Number twenty-five...number twenty-seven...number twenty-nine....
He could see people screaming helplessly, falling over and trampling each other in their haste to get away from the vivid flashes of blue and purple light that flew everywhere.
He could see Bill and Fleur's blank stares as they fell like rocks in a heap to the ground in a haze of green light, so stunned that they didn't even have the chance to get away.
He saw Remus, the last standing Marauder, howling with rage at the attackers, eyes flashing and changing from a deep amber to an almost glowing yellow as a severing hex hit him across his face. Soon he was fighting back with a ferocity that Harry would not have believed existed in the man, who was always so composed despite his Lycanthropy, if he had not seen it with his own eyes.
He could see blood being spilled everywhere, spilling from people caught unawares.
People were getting hit by curses, people unsuccessfully attempting to evade explosions and going down in a blaze of sickly light...
He could see mothers anxiously trying to find their children in the confusion of chaos, and the ones that succeeded quickly Apparating away.
Others were trying to gain some order of control by assembling small opposition groups to fight off the Death Eaters with no little vehemence.
He heard Mrs. Weasley's terrible cry of outrage and grief, and looked on as she single handedly fought off three Death Eaters after discovering that her sister too had fallen at the hand of one of the masked figures, just like Bill and Fleur.
And he saw the sparkle of Tonks' hair changing from a mild brown to electric blue as all her clumsiness left her and her auror instincts kicked in and took over while she fought back to back with Kingsley Shacklebolt.
He could see Ginny's broken body as she was flung several feet backwards through the fence with the force of a small cannon as she was hit by a blasting curse, a touch of a smile still playing on her lips from just seconds ago when she was laughing at a joke Fred had made. A definite hollow /thud followed as her head connected with the concrete wall of the house./
And he froze.
It was all he could do.
Just stood there, rooted to the spot in horror. His mind utterly blank, staring at the unmoving form of the youngest of the Weasley clan, as blood started to form a crimson frame around her head like a mockery of an angel's halo.
Everyone else had exploded into movement all at once, so many things were happening in the few seconds that had passed since the arrival of the Death Eaters.
But he couldn't hear anything anymore; it was as if he had gone temporarily deaf. He couldn't think straight, and he was unable to move.
At first he thought someone must have thrown a body-bind at him, and that was why his arms and legs felt like they where made of concrete, but he couldn't remember getting hit by anything at all. And body-binds didn't make you lose your hearing.
And then he noticed that he wasn't breathing, eyes wide and fixed on the scene in front of him as he tried to make sense of it all at once.
"Death Eaters?" he whispered under his breath. "What? At the Burrow, but... how? What happened to the protection shield? Scrimgeour...he assured us...he, he swore...that...that...
"This isn't real, this is not happening. It's a joke, a cruel horrible joke; Ginny will get up any second now, laughing at how I fell for this immense, malicious joke."
He begged piteously, "Please let this be a joke...please not yet, I only wanted today."
Seconds had gone by, maybe even minutes, and it was a miracle he hadn't been killed, just standing there motionless without getting hit by some ghastly curse.
And then a burst of sudden clarity had hit him straight in the chest with such vehemence that almost overwhelmed him as he felt his stomach roll and bile threatening to come up his throat in a sudden flood of dry heaves.
He still couldn't hear anything, and he still wasn't breathing. His head began to spin like a top, spinning out of control.
Black spots started to randomly fleck across his vision, like a distortion of the brain.
It was all so painfully clear, and he knew.
He knew it couldn't all be some cruel joke.
And he knew Ginny was dead.
And he could have died right then, hit by the same curse that had lead his parents to their downfall seventeen years ago.
He could have died in that very moment of total clarity, and would not have cared at all what became of him or of the world.
He almost choked as his brain screamed for oxygen and his breath came back to him in a long, suffering, painful sob that felt as if his chest was being clawed open by long vicious nails, torn wide apart from the inside out.
His body trembled with the suddenness of it all, and he forgot how to breathe again for a second. His lungs started gulping in short, shuddering mouthfuls of air.
He vaguely heard Hermione's voice urgently calling his name somewhere to his right, and someone was tugging on his arm with relentless force, probably Ron.
But he couldn't form one rational thought in his overflowing mind; he had pressed everything not in his direct line of vision from his thoughts with a great shove.
He let out an incoherent sound that vibrated out from the back of his throat and moaned wretchedly.
"Oh god, Fleur and Bill. No. No. Not Ginny, please. We broke up, I...you, you should have been safe! You should have been safe here at The Burrow!"
He started forward trying to get to her, scrambling over what felt like dead bodies.
He stumbled clumsily and fell more than once, a good thing too because it saved his life when he swerved unintentionally out of the range of a familiar green light, one that was the same shade as his eyes.
She was so close then that he could have touched her.
Her face was already losing traces of that healthy rosy colour her cheeks always sported with every passing second, her freckles standing in sharp relief against the sallow pallor of her skin. Even her hair seemed to lose that fire he loved so much.
He crouched down beside her and reached out a trembling hand to stroke away the hair that had fallen limply across her face, obscuring her features.
He hesitated a second, wondering with an odd detachment if her skin would already feel as cold as a Dementor's breath, when someone grabbed him from behind, covered his mouth with a firm grip and Apparated away with the echoes of Hermione and Ron's joint startled cries of dismay ringing through his eardrums as his chest tightened in fear and the world went black before his eyes.
Shaking with uncontrollable rage, he continued his way down the mismatched stones of Spinner's End. The towering mill chimney cast big shadows over the narrow street as it hovered in the nearing twilight. He was still clenching the now heavily crumpled piece of parchment in his right fist.
He stopped in front of the house which sign read thirty-one in flaking letters of faded paint, the very last house that by far looked worse then all the others.
The newly familiar feeling of being scrunched through a rubber tube had left him dazed for a few seconds, too long to get his bearings when he felt the ground return under his feet.
Just as he reached up to claw at the hands of the anonymous attacker that had been holding him so tightly, he heard the murmur of a sleeping spell being cast, and he found himself descending into darkness once more.
He had woken up in a low bush with a lingering presence of a concealment charm that had been cast over him, and a piece of parchment pushed into his left palm.
It had taken him a few seconds to orientate himself and then he had noticed that the sun was just starting to go under, and he saw thick layers of black smoke coating the golden sky to his right.
And he knew he was still in Ottery St. Catchpole. If he squinted his eyes just so, he was just able to make out the top of the Burrow, swallowed by licking flames before it disappeared again behind a curtain of black looming smoke.
Everything that had passed had come speeding back to him, hard and brutal like a bludger to the head. He was struck rigid by the full force of his grief for the first time.
He had no state of mind left to contemplate rationally what had happened to him to make him wake up on the other side of the village from The Burrow. With all these feelings racing through him, his inner turmoil boiled hot and heavy under his skin, setting his bones afire.
He had felt all kinds of feelings he couldn't define, while thinking off Ginny, and Fleur and Bill and how they only just had been married, and if Hermione and Ron were okay and the rest of the Weasleys.
And he had wondered what had happened to Remus, Tonks, Kinsley and the other Order members. All the wedding guests, and those little kids that were playing so joyfully with the garden gnomes before.
He had just sat there staring at the palms of his hand, at the piece of parchment he was still holding, as everything went through his mind at once like wires of some complicated piece of machinery twisting and turning over each other trying to reach their outlets so it could function again.
He hadn't cried though. Not even a tear.
He hadn't cried since Sirius.
Not even when Dumbledore...when Dumbledore...
Slowly the words started to seep through the thick fog of his thoughts and he tightened his grip on the paper and gasped as he read:
The secret hide out of Severus Snape can be found at number thirty-one, Spinner's End.
He had almost torn the parchment in two as he had snapped out of his stupor and jumped up.
"Snape!" he had cried out stupidly.
And slowly those unidentifiable feelings had started to make sense and form themselves into a simmering heat, gaining intensity every second longer he stared at the name of the man he had loathed for so many years.
The boiling under his skin flared up as he gave a focus to all those feelings blazing and burning through his very being.
It felt as if his body was an inferno, and he could almost imagine rings of smoke pouring out his ears and puffing from his nostrils like a fire-breathing dragon.
It was unadulterated rage which he felt then, fury he had never ever experienced in his entire life in this intensity before, and he felt a silent pang when he couldn't feel that gaping hole that had been growing ever so slow since Cedric had died.
And then had grown steadily wider when Sirius had fallen through the veil, and wider still when Dumbledore had been murdered.
The hole that had been slowly healing in a cloud of contentment and joy just a few hours ago, had been ripped open mercilessly along the still-healing seems.
And he had felt it growing again silently but surely, causing coldness to leak into his heart with a steady drip where Ginny used to be, and Bill and Fleur.
He made his decision there and then as he was blinded by rage, numb with the fire of fury that took control over his entire body, and stood up without stopping to think sensibly what it meant that he woke up under a bush unharmed after being taken from the site of a Death Eater attack by some stranger, with Snape's address scribbled hastily on a piece of paper placed in his hand.
He hadn't cared.
No, he hadn't cared at all.
It had probably been some Order member anyway, hiding him there to get him out of harms way. And they probably had known he would have wanted revenge and helpfully provided him with the address of the man, he had convinced himself easily, disregarding the little buzzing of the Hermione-like-voice as it flared up in one last futile attempt to get through to him.
Yes that must have been it, either way he hadn't given a shit.
He had walked out from underneath the cover from the bush he was sitting under to the edge of the street and had noticed for the first time that there were Muggles walking around.
Well, that's just too bad, he had thought savagely and ignored them completely, as he Apparated away to pay Severus Snape a visit.
He barely spared a glance for the Muggles he had frightened by his abrupt appearance, and had stormed off menacingly, finally having a focus for all his flaring rage.
And that's how he got here, standing in front of Spinner's End, number thirty-one. Seething and fuming with unruly anger.
Someone was going to suffer for this, he told himself as he took in the state of the house with disgust, noticing the boarded up windows, and the filthy looking curtain of the one unbroken window directly in front of him, drawn closed.
And Snape deserved a lot of suffering.
If it hadn't been for /Snape/, he thought bitterly, Dumbledore would have still been alive and none of this would have happened. Ginny would still be alive, and Bill and Fleur would still be dancing together, and everyone would have been happy and he...
He would have had his perfect day, he was sure of it.
Yes, it had all been /Snape's /fault, he thought irrationally, and pointed his wand at the wooden door.
A surge of malicious wrath coursed from his body through his wand arm, it trickled through his veins and blood.
He felt it moving and he could pin point the exact moment it flowed through his hand and then through his fingers, out of his wand, destroying the door utterly in a blazing light of pure white as if it were nothing but a flimsy twig.
He saw a red light flicker briefly on the outlines of the little house before dying out as he stepped over the remains of the broken door, and stepped in to the house of Severus Snape.
Enjoyed reading? Reviews are appreciated!
Made possible by Colon, my wonderful beta.
Look out for:
Chapter 2. Uninvited
What will Harry find within the walls of number thirty-one Spinner's End?