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Halfway To Infinity by Eponine
Chapter 18 : Chapter Seventeen: Andrea's Discovery
 
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Author's Note Thank you so much to TheBird for helping me with this chapter!

This chapter is dedicated to my dog, Bow.

Alright guys, with the release of DH just around the corner, I just want to confirm that I'm continuing writing and I don’t plan on stopping -- the story, though, will become AU. Yay!

Happy reading!

~ ~ ~

Chapter Seventeen: Andrea’s Discovery

Another Valentine’s Day rapidly approached and the students of Alsemore were allowed to visit Odin Alley again to refill their supplies.

With careful planning, Lottie and Andrea managed to cut every line and gather their toiletries and school supplies as quickly as possible. Andrea, who was quite smaller than even most first years, slipped through breaks in the line and collected everything before anybody noticed that she was there. By the time they reached the room where they could choose one object for themselves, everybody else was still waiting in line for a new bar of soap.

It was eerily quiet in the room of miscellaneous items. Andrea and Lottie pushed right past the shelves of books, potion ingredients and chess sets and stopped in front of the Defense Against the Dark Arts materials. “I don’t know what any of this is,” Lottie said slowly.

“Well—er—that’s a Sneakoscope,” Andrea replied. “But that’s the only thing I can identify. How are we supposed to choose one?”

“Let’s just take evrything,” Lottie said, picking up the Sneakoscope.

“Lottie!’ Andrea grabbed it back. “We’re only allowed to have one thing per person, remember?”

“Well nobody’s here right now.” Lottie smiled at Andrea’s disapproving glare. “It’s going to an important cause isn’t it?”

Andrea picked up a small mirror. “I suppose,” she muttered.

“Here, come on.” Lottie started filling her bag with one of every object she could get a hold of. “Oh don’t tell me you’ve never done this before,” she said to Andrea, who was still holding the mirror.

Andrea didn’t glance over her shoulder as she slid the mirror into her pocket, but glared at Lottie instead. “I told myself I’d never do this again when I left,” she hissed under her breath. Lottie didn’t need to ask what she was talking about; she had told herself that she’d try to stop stealing when she left the camp also. That hadn’t worked out as well as she had wanted, but it was all in an effort to win the war, wasn’t it?

“Hurry up,” Lottie answered in response to Andrea’s glares. “Everybody will be showing up soon.”

Sure enough, seconds later, Palmyitor pushed the doors open and stood in the doorway. “Rowe? Woolbright?”

Lottie nearly panicked, but recovered quickly and dropped everything that she hadn’t managed to tuck away and spun around, smiling innocently. Andrea wasn’t doing as well, though, and froze with her back to Palmyitor.

“What are you doing here already?” Palmyitor asked with a raised eyebrow.

“We wanted to get here first,” Lottie lied coolly. “Last year we didn’t get very good choices because everybody else got here before us.” She was grateful that Palmyitor was staying in the doorframe. If she got any closer, she might have been able to detect Lottie’s lies through Legilimency. Or see the hidden Dark detectors up her sleeve. “So this year we-er-cut the lines a bit and got here early.”

Andrea turned around just enough so Palmyitor could see her nodding vigorously.

Smiling knowingly, Palmyitor said, “Alright. Well, remember, only one item per person.”

Lottie picked out a nice shield cloak and stuffed it in her bag. She turned to Andrea, whose hands were shaking, and stuffed another one into her hands. “No, see, this cloak is the same thing we wanted last year, but they were all taken,” she said slightly too loudly, checking to make sure that Palmyitor was listening out of the corner of her eye. “It might be a little too small, but hey none of those little first years’ jinxes could reach the top of our heads anyway, right?”

Andrea gave her a puzzled look, but didn’t protest. She folded her new cloak and slipped it into her bag and left through the other door with a glance back at Palmyitor.

“I really can’t stand lying,” she said through gritted teeth.

“I think you’re in the wrong House,” Lottie chuckled. “You’re going to be horrible at disguises.”

“Not that you’re very good at much else,” called a voice from behind them.

Lottie didn’t need to turn around to guess who it was. Nobody else she knew made remarks that stupid. “You know, Scrivener, there are other people in this school besides us,” she said, with her back still to him.

“Well, yes, but nobody else is wandering around this early with nothing to do, are they? What did you do wrong?”

“And what exactly are you doing?” Gritting her teeth, Lottie spun around and reached for her wand. “Just looking for trouble?”

“I just ran into you, if that’s what you were asking,” Colm answered swiftly. “I was wondering what you were doing out so early, considering that you’ve already gotten everything before most people are even halfway finished.” He paused. Lottie held out her wand so that Colm could see it. “So what have you been up to? Stealing?”

Lottie was about to open her mouth to retort, when Andrea spun around and shouted, “Shut up! Just shut up, will you? And leave us the hell alone!” Colm looked stunned for only a moment, but then pulled out his own wand.

Before he could even open his mouth to say an incantation, Andrea flicked her wand very matter-of-factly and muttered an incantation that Lottie didn’t recognize. Colm smirked at first when Andrea put her want down.

“See? Like I said, you’re not good at--” A chunk of dirty blonde hair fell from his head.

Immediately, Lottie doubled over with laughter. Andrea chuckled too and tucked her wand away.

Colm, rubbing his brand new bald spot glared at them. “You--you’re going to pay for this!” he shouted.

Lottie’s laughter brought her to her knees. She pounded her fist against the cobblestones. “Really?” she gasped. “You think we’re scared of you? You can’t charm your way out of a paper bag!”

Andrea smirked. “Let’s go,” she said, helping Lottie to her feet. “I don’t want to hear him start crying.”

Lottie snorted through her laughter and began walking. Distantly, behind her, she heard, “Petrificus Totalus!

Andrea limbs obeyed and snapped together as though Colm was pulling invisible puppet strings. Promptly, she fell to the ground, completely unable to move.

“Andrea?” Lottie fell to her knees and tried to pull Andrea’s arms from her body. They were completely stuck. “What did he do?”

Andrea clearly couldn’t move her mouth. Lottie glared up at Colm, who was now completely bald.

“I cannot believe,” she began, starting towards him, “that you would ever do something so-”

“Rowe!” Lottie stopped in her tracks. It was Palmyitor, of course.

“Rowe, what do you think you’re--” Palmyitor raised an eyebrow at Colm’s lack of hair. “Scrivener?”

“Woolbright did it,” Colm said, pointing at Andrea who was still lying a good ten feet away. “She just insulted me and insulted me and then--” He paused for dramatic effect. “Then she did this.”

Lottie exploded in laughter and rubbed Colm’s bald head. “Hey, I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s a pretty good look for you.”

“Rowe, that is very much enough.” Palmyitor pulled Lottie away from Colm by the back of her robes.

“Well what about Andrea, huh?” Lottie snapped. “She’s still lying there. She can hardly blink!”

Palmyitor sighed heavily and flicked her wand. Immediately, Andrea scrambled to her feet, shouting, “He’s lying, Professor! He provoked me! It’s completely his fault! His hair will grow back in two seconds; he did more harm to me! I nearly hit my head!”

“Be that as it may,” Palmyitor began, rubbing her temples, “you attacked him when you could have found a teacher.”

Lottie’s jaw dropped. “You can’t actually be saying--”

“Detention, Woolbright.”

Andrea seemed to shrink. “I’m sorry, Professor,” she sniffed.

“Naesa?” Professor Stainthorpe ran down the alley. “What’s going on?”

“Oh, just second years dueling. No big deal,” Palmyitor said sarcastically. “Woolbright, of all people! Woolbright! She has detention tonight.”

“Oh, Naesa, you were hoping to take tonight off,” Stainthorpe said with a sideways glance at Andrea.

“Well, for the good of the school…”

“Don’t worry about it Naesa. I can take care of the detention tonight.” Stainthorpe smiled genuinely. “You take your night off.”

“Thank you, Marianne.” Palmyitor rubbed her eyes. “I need a few hours of free time for my own mental health.” She spun around on her heel and strode down the alley.

Stainthorpe turned to the three second years. “Scrivener, I suggest you find a teacher to help you back to the hospital wing to see what Professor Waterman can do with your hair.”

Lottie had to bit the inside of her lip until her eyes watered to stop herself from laughing.

“Can’t you do anything?” Colm asked.

“I’m afraid I don’t know how to grow hair,” Stainthorpe said carefully. “At least not with Professor Waterman’s efficiency.”

Colm glared at the professor and headed down the alleyway.

“Don’t worry, Woolbright,” Stainthorpe said calmly. “I’ll see you tonight after dinner.”



Flatware clattered against Andrea’s plate. She rested her face in her palms and sighed heavily.

“Oh stop being so over dramatic,” Lottie said bitterly, dropping a healthy sized dollop of mashed potatoes onto Andrea’s plate. “Detention is just detention. You’ll be out of it in two hours at most and then you can get back to the common room.” Andrea opened her mouth to speak, but Lottie stopped her before she could. “And you’ll forget about it in a month or so. So just eat and forget about it.”

Andrea spooned the mashed potatoes back onto Lottie’s plate. “Sure, it’s no big deal for you, but Palmyitor was so angry at me! I hope she’ll forgive me…”

Lottie stared at the mashed potatoes that had been unceremoniously plopped in front of her. “Of course she will. Her job is to be angry at people.” She turned her plate upside down over Andrea’s and watched the potatoes fall, splattering Andrea with potato bits.

Through gritted teeth, Andrea said, “Well Colm Scrivener didn’t get a detention.”

Lottie laughed sheepishly and wiped some of the potato goop off of Andrea’s glasses. “She probably guessed that having to walk by all of the older students completely bald was punishment enough. I’d take detention over that any day.” Lottie scowled. “Shame she let him fix his hair, really. I think he looked rather good bald.”

Andrea broke her glare and smiled. “I’m going to go,” she said. “I need to go change out of these clothes.”

Lottie followed a silent Andrea through the bustling Great Hall and down the stairs to the Palmyitor common room. Light from the glimmering fireplace danced across the shadowed dungeon floor, bathing Lottie and Andrea’s feet in a shimmering glow. “You can wait down here,” Andrea said, finally breaking the mind numbing silence. “I’ll be right back.”

Lottie collapsed onto her favorite chair and rested her head against the patched arm. She felt bad for Andrea, but continued coming to the same conclusion; she was being extraordinarily overdramatic. Detention is never fun, but it’s not like she was being asked to sacrifice her life.

Andrea came upstairs in jeans rolled up several times at the bottom and a shirt that came down to her knees. “I don’t know what I might have to do,” she whispered. “I don’t want to get my uniform dirty.”

“…Okay,” Lottie said, at a complete loss for words.

“You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to,” Andrea muttered, turning towards the exit. “I’ll be back later tonight.”

Lottie sighed heavily. “Okay. I’ll see you tonight.” Andrea was halfway out of the common room, when Lottie added, “Have fun,” with a sly smile.

The door in the clock slammed. Lottie rested her head in her hands. She should have just stayed in the Great Hall and finished her dinner.

The door creaked open and Stanley stepped into the firelight. “Feeling sick?” he asked.

“Andrea has detention,” Lottie explained. “She wanted to change clothes or something.”

“Ah, the first detention.” Stanley nodded knowingly. “A milestone, I’d say. Who gave it to her?”

“Palmyitor.”

“I’ve yet to meet a seventh year who hasn’t gotten at least one from her.”

Lottie rolled her eyes, muttering, “Over-controlling--”

“I’d watch what you say,” Stanley said quickly. “She knows everything that goes on in this castle.”

“Well Andrea’s just over-reacting. I mean, it’s just detention. She was acting like it was the end of the world.”

“That type of person always takes it a little too seriously.” Stanley paused as the door opened and Langley poked his head in. “Look, I’ve got to go. If Andrea’s upset when she gets back, tell her to talk to me.”

“Okay.” Lottie waved at his retreating back.



An hour and a half later, Lottie’s eyes were drooping when someone shouted, “I’m back!” Lottie’s head snapped up.

“Glad to see you enjoyed your detention,” Lottie grumbled, rubbing her eyes.

“Oh, it wasn’t bad at all!” Andrea sat down on the coffee table across from Lottie’s armchair. “We just worked on stuff for her class. I helped her grade the first years’ homework!”

“Yeah, well don’t get used to it. Most detentions aren’t like that.”

“Oh, I know,” Andrea said with a dismissive wave. “But I don’t plan on getting any more detention, anyway.”

“I wouldn’t be sure of that,” Lottie said. She lowered her voice and continued. “Palmyitor is always looking for an excuse to give detention.”

Andrea frowned and said, “Well I’ll just lay low around her.” She paused and, seeming to remember why she had been so excited in the first place, said, “Wait! But guess what!”

“What.”

“I asked Stainthorpe what she knew about the Order of the Phoenix.”

Lottie turned away from the fire. “And?”

“She told me a lot. How they were trying to find the Dark Lord. Their headquarters was hidden magically by a—a Fidelius Charm.

“We already knew that.”

“But now it just confirms it. So we know that nobody can see it unless if the person who’s been given the secret, the Secret Keeper, tells them! Longbottom must have written a bunch of these and handed them out so new Order members could see the location.”


“Wow.” Lottie tried to absorb all of that information at once. “So we found one of Longbottom’s original snuffboxes and now we can see Grimmauld Place, but nobody else can?”

“Not if we don’t show them the note.”

“Did she tell you anything else?”

“Yes!” Andrea scooted the coffee table closer. “The first Secret Keeper was Albus Dumbledore, but before he was murdered he switched it to someone else.”

“How did he know to switch?”

“Nobody really knows, I don’t think. People thing that maybe he was planning it with Severus Snape. He changed Secret Keepers so the Order could continue and grow even with him gone.”

“And the person he changed to was Neville Longbottom?”

By now the common room was empty.

“Probably not,” Andrea said. “Stainthorpe said that they switched a lot because the name of the Secret Keeper kept getting leaked.”

“How?”

Andrea shrugged. “A spy?”

“Oh.”

“So Neville Longbottom must have been the last Secret Keeper!” Andrea said triumphantly.

“Do you think he’s still at Grimmauld Place, then?”

“I doubt it. The Order was destroyed after the Dark Lord took over. I would guess he’s not alive anymore.”

“But Grimmauld Place is still there?”

“Well, if Longbottom didn’t tell any Death Eater, they’d never be able to destroy it. They’d never even be able to see it. But that’s not all Stainthorpe told me; apparently, the headquarters of the Order is in London.”

“Excellent! So we can go find it this summer!” Lottie paused and stared at Andrea for a moment. Everything was starting to fit together, but still one piece of the puzzle was missing. “But how would Stainthorpe know all of this?”


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