Hour 1: 7 PM
Story Summary: This is an AU story. It takes place in the fall of Harry Potter's 6th year. The events of the story will take place in a 24 hour period. Each chapter will represent one hour of story time - beginning at 7:00 PM on a Friday evening - continuing until Saturday evening at 7:00 PM. Some characters may come across as OOC, there will not necessarily be canon relationships.
Warning: This story will follow the premise of the Kiefer Sutherland TV series (but no, Jack Bauer himself does NOT show up) (however, there will be thousands of innocent lives at stake!). Therefor there will be character deaths (not necessarily the ones in canon). There will be betrayals and their will be allies who may first appear to be enemies. Please review, feedback is always helpful. So, I hope all of you who read this story will enjoy it. This is fiction, it is meant to be fun. And as I have posted on my profile page - I don't own any of this, I am just having fun.
AU elements: This story is compliant with the books up until it begins in October of Harry's sixth year. This story WILL contain: Non Canon relationships; character deaths that are non canon; characters that may be OOC although there will be reasons made clear in the story for why they are acting OOC compared to canon; changes in how the final battle comes about...
Harry Potter 24
Friday, October 18, 1996
Dinner was finishing later than usual for Harry and he was in no mood to rush. He had another meeting scheduled with the headmaster. He appreciated that he was finally having meetings with him, but he had hoped that he would be spending the time learning new and advanced magic. But instead of learning useful skills that would help him in a fight with Voldemort, he was reviewing the history of Tom Riddle's time as a student at Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione watched him leave and they could sense their friend's frustration.
"I was hoping we could play a game of chess," commented Ron.
"That's all you ever think about," stated Hermione. "Maybe you should spend this time catching up on the essays you need to write, so that way you'll have some free time to enjoy Hogsmeade tomorrow."
"What? And ruin a perfectly good Friday evening? You're barmy," snapped Ron.
Neville just shrugged his shoulders as he watched the two interact. "Hermione's right, you know," he interjected, "if we get some school work done now we'll have a more relaxing weekend, and with this being a Hogsmeade weekend, I'm hoping not to have to spend time writing essays or studying tomorrow."
"That's the spirit!" encouraged Hermione. "Why don't we gather our things and meet up in the common room and get to work on the essay for charms?"
Slytherin Common Room
In the middle of the room Draco sat in the nicest arm chair, like a rule holding court. Over half of the students in Slytherin were present, waiting on their unofficial leader to begin his weekly list of commands for how they were all to behave.
"Now every one you better listen up," he commanded in his superior tone, "Potter's up to something, he keep s meeting with the headmaster. You all have a mission, and that mission is to find out what he is up to. And I don't trust the mudblood or the blood traitor Weasel either, so keep tabs on them."
"Why do we have to this?" asked a young second year girl.
Draco narrowed his eyes on her, trying to place her. From the looks of her chubby cheeks he surmised she must be a cousin to Crabbe. "One because I said so," he snarled, "and two, because I have more important business to attend to. I have my own special mission from The Dark Lord, and none of you want me to have to give a report to him. I don't think things would be too pleasant for your parents if The Dark Lord found out that one of his follower's brats wasn't doing their part. Potter is marked for death by the Dark Lord. And anyone who gets in the way of that inevitable outcome will have their own problems to deal with."
There was an uneasy quiet that passed over the room. This was the first time that the young Malfoy had admitted to more than just his few close friends that he had been in contact with He Who Must Not Be Named. A first year boy was so nervous he wet his pants, he just hoped his robes would cover it until he had a chance to clean up his mess.
"Now, I have to go work on my special mission right now, so you all better find out what the Golden Trio is up to and have a report ready for me when I get back."
With that he stood up and marched out of their common room. He turned and silently glared at his two cronies, Crabbe and Goyle, who instantly knew they better follow him again.
Harry was preparing himself for another look at old memories of Tom Riddle as a student, and he wasn't sure how that would help. He had been sitting in the chair for a few minutes, waiting for the headmaster to return with something he said was very important. His eyes wandered around the room, looking at the various gadgets that he had destroyed at the end of his fifth year after his godfather had died. He was surprised that Dumbledore had somehow managed to repair them all.
"Ahh, Harry, my boy," said the headmaster, startling Harry as he had not heard the professor enter the office. "I'm so glad you're here, and on time too. Good, good."
The twinkling of his eyes was unnerving to Harry even after all of these years.
"I'm sure you must be frustrated to not be learning any spells yet, but you see, there is a problem," explained the headmaster. Harry could detect a little sadness in his voice.
Dumbledore held out his right hand and Harry could see that it was black and withering like a dying vine after the first frost in the fall. Harry's expression immediately turned to one of worry, which did not go unnoticed by the headmaster.
"No, it does not hurt," he quickly stated, "but it is a dark curse and it cannot be reversed I am afraid. I guess I got a little careless, let my guard down as it were, and this is the penalty I must bear."
"But sir," asked Harry trying to be polite, "there must be something that can be done."
Albus Dumbledore sighed heavily, "I'm afraid not," he explained, "I've already talked to the best curse breakers and healers and potion masters, and there is nothing that can be done about this.
Harry quickly wondered how the headmaster had been able to hide the damage to his hand from everyone, and just when had the curse started.
"If you're wondering what happened, or even when it happened, and even wondering what this has to do with Tom Riddle," began the headmaster with what Harry presumed would become another one of his long speeches that had a lot of words but actually told him very little of importance, "and I will explain that all right now."
Harry wasn't planning to hold his breath to see how true that statement was.
"We've been learning about Tom's fascination with dark magic, and with power, and with immortality. He is very afraid of death. In fact the name he gave himself literally means to feel from death. And he went to amazing and absurd and dangerous lengths to protect himself from death," stated the headmaster.
"But no one can prevent death completely," claimed Harry.
Dumbledore let out a weary sigh. "Normally I would have to agree with you, Harry, but I am afraid that there is evidence to the contrary, at least as far as it goes with Tom Riddle." Dumbledore paused again in his explanation. "However, young Tom delved into some very dark magics. Something called horcruxes."
"I've never heard of such a thing," stated Harry.
"And well should not have," acknowledged the headmaster, "however, you have encountered at least one horcrux already."
Harry was confused, he had no idea what the headmaster was talking about nor what a horcrux was.
"You see, Harry," Dumbledore began to explain, "a horcrux is most simply understood as a soul container. Or more correctly, an anchor for part of someone's soul. Making a horcrux requires very dark magic, the ritual is completed by deliberately murdering another person, and a portion of your soul breaks off and is placed in the item, making it a horcrux. As long as this container is holding part of a person's soul, they cannot truly die."
Harry was horrified as he considered what he was told. That would explain how Tom Riddle's soul seemed to possess the diary. He looked up at the headmaster. "The diary, that was a horcrux," he said simply.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled slightly as he was glad to see Harry catching on so quickly. "Yes, my boy. And it is not easy to destroy a horcrux, and you inadvertently discovered one of the ways to destroy a horcrux. Basilisk venom. And it was quite successful I might add."
"So, Tom Riddle was able to come back because he had a horcrux. But if I destroyed the horcrux," Harry's voice trailed off as the enormity of the conclusion hit him.
"If you destroyed that horcrux, Harry," continued the headmaster for him, "then he must have made more than one."
"How many?" asked Harry, who was feeling ill at the thought.
"That is a good question, and I do believe that the answer may astound you," said Dumbledore sensing Harry's worries and fears. "I believe he planned to make six horcruxes, in order to split his soul into seven pieces, believing that seven was the most powerful magical number. I am worried that he might have actually made more than six."
"But if he made so many, how could we even begin to find them?" asked Harry.
"That is precisely why we have been, or at least I have been, studying Tom's past." Dumbledore paused again to let Harry absorb this new information. "I believe that Riddle has hidden the various items in places that are somehow important to him. I also believe he used items that held special meaning to him. The diary was his first diary he had here as a student. He quickly learned how to enchant it so that others could not easily see what he wrote into it. Then he left it with one of his trusted lieutenants, Lucius Malfoy, who must have had no idea what it was that he actually had in his possession or he never would have slipped it to young Miss Weasley."
Harry nodded in understanding. "But what other items would he have used."
Dumbledore reached into his drawer and pulled out a ring with a large dark stone. There seemed to be some sort of intricate design on the stone. Harry went to pick it up slowly, as he knew that the diary had been able to possess someone and he wondered if this ring would have similar properties.
"It's perfectly safe to touch at this time, Harry," said Dumbledore as he noticed the hesitancy in Harry's reach. "The horcrux in this ring has been destroyed. And the curses left behind to protect the item have been removed as well."
As Harry heard the phrase about the curses left behind he looked at his mentor's hand that was withering.
This did not go unnoticed by the headmaster. "Yes Harry, in my foolishness upon discovering this item, which was hidden in the little shack that was the Gaunt family home, not far from where Tom had performed the ritual to give him his current body. The ring was protected by a very unusual curse. That dark magic is what is destroying my arm. Tom did not want anybody touching the ring if they even managed to find it."
Harry stared at the shriveling hand, the damage being done to it while grotesque was oddly mesmerizing. He then broke his gaze away from the diseased limb and looked back at Albus. "I foolishly put the ring on my finger," explained the bearded teacher, "I must have missed the compulsion charm that was placed on the box in which the ring was hidden. And once I had the ring on my finger, the curse was activated to slowly cause the tissue to wither, and eventually spread to the entire body. There is no cure for this curse, but I have some help from a friend who has been able to at least find a way to slow the progress, however, the end result is still inevitable, just merely delayed. Although whether it be delayed for weeks or months, at this point I am not quite sure."
Harry was smart enough to know that further questions about the curse would lead no where. He also realised that if neither Dumbledore nor any of the many powerful witches and wizards he knew from around the world could figure out a way to stop this curse, then he must be correct, the end result would be inevitable.
"Well, then, sir," began Harry timidly, "that is two horcruxes down, and I guess four more to go. Do you have any idea what the items are or where we can find them?"
"That is something that I have been spending much time and energy on, my dear Harry," answered the headmaster.
Slytherin Common Room
Daphne Greengrass was considered nigh on unapproachable by almost every male student at Hogwarts. She and earned the nickname, "The Ice Queen" for both her stoicism and her response to any person who tried to make a move on her, or even simply ask her on a date. Her captivating electric blue eyes, her wavy and long blonde hair that surrounded an angelic face, was more than enough to attract the attention of any young male, and perhaps even a few females at the school. It was rumoured that she had a beautiful body, but it was hard to tell with the usual baggy robes that she wore. She had few friends, and was usually seen in the presence of her best friend, Tracey Davis. Tracey was a dark haired sixth year Slytherin student as well, and many would have considered her quite attractive if she wasn't seemingly always in the shadow of her best friend.
Most of their classmates had little interaction with the two young ladies, but they were generally assumed to be supportive of Draco and his gang. They had never once spoken up against any of Draco's machinations within the house, but they had never overtly shown support for anything he did either. Little was known about the actual allegiances of the Greengrass or Davis family, or at least it was not clear what side they had chosen in the last war. However, Daphne's father was a well known attorney and he was known to work with many Death Eater families and other professed followers of the blood purity movement, but it was also known that he had several clients that were definitely considered light sided families. The Greengrass family had supplied attorneys to the magical world for many generations, and this lead to the family's prestige and status. Tracey's family had run a potion ingredient business, and while they were located on one of the alley's off of Diagon Alley, they were not overtly dark as they were not located on Knockturn Alley.
The two young women had been present for Draco's little speech earlier and had listened quietly even if they had no visible reaction to any of his pronouncements. They had stayed in the room, watching as several small groups of students first banded together and then made their way out into the hallway and then to the rest of the school to begin their reconnaissance for Malfoy. In silence they waited for most of the students to leave. Finally, they got up together and made their way to the door that would lead to the headway outside of their dungeon dormitory.
"Going to do what Draco commanded," stated Pansy Parkinson. Her voice was a little nasally whine that the two friends had found irritating from even before they attended Hogwarts. "Its about time you two started becoming more a part of this house, and following Draco. You wouldn't want him giving a bad report about you or your families to the Dark Lord, now would you?"
Daphne never turned to look at the pug faced girl who had irritated her since they first met on a play date when they were three years old. Tracey, however, turned and spoke to her with a saccharine sweet reply, "We would never do anything to upset the status quo here, dear Pansy. We really do need to find out what certain individuals are up to and if we find out anything that would be remotely useful, we will be sure to pass it along."
Pansy smiled at the reply, missing the sarcasm that was in Tracey's words. The two friends then quickly escaped through the door and into the hallway.
"Why the bloody hell did you tell her we would report what we learned?" demanded Daphne.
"I only said that we would report if we found anything that was remotely useful. If we find something that is probably useful, that doesn't count," answered the brunette witch with a smirk.
"Aren't you the clever little bitch," snapped Daphne.
"You mean witch," replied Tracey.
"Yeah, what I said," finished Daphne with a smirk of her own.
Professor Dumbledore was still explaining about horcruxes to Harry.
"I believe that young Tom deliberately chose items that were either important to him or important to powerful witches and wizards. The diary was important to him. The ring was important to his family, which he believed to have been powerful at one time. I know he tried to obtain an item known as Helga Hufflepuff's cup. He was making inquiries into the long lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw, and I believe that he had a lead on finding an important artefact that once belonged to Salazar Slytherin."
Harry was awed by the sheer audacity that Tom Riddle would have had to track down such items and then to desecrate them by placing a portion of his soul into them.
"But that's only three items, professor," commented Harry.
"I think he managed to place a portion of his soul in a living creature," stated the headmaster.
Harry's eyes went wide as he considered the comment.
"You've told me that I have a connection with Tom through my scar, which is why I have been able to see things from time to time," said Harry as he plainly spoke his thoughts on the matter. "But I have had times where I have seen through the eyes of his snake, Nagini I think he calls her."
"Yes, quite observant of you, my boy," praised the headmaster. "The snake is quite unusual for such a reptile, neither vipers nor pythons grow to be so large. And there seems to be an unnatural ability to communicate between them, and ability that goes beyond the use of Parseltongue."
"That would explain so much," added Harry thoughtfully. "But how would we either find these items or destroy them?"
"As I was saying earlier, you already found one way to do it," answered the headmaster with a little more cheer in his voice. "The basilisk venom from the fang would do the trick. The Sword of Godric Gryffindor has been imbued with the venom of a basilisk after you used it to slay that great beast down in the Chamber of Secrets. I was able to use that sword to destroy the horcrux in the ring, after I had managed to remove the cursed object from my hand."
"But wouldn't the sword or even a basilisk fang be dangerous to carry around?" asked Harry.
"Not to you," smiled Dumbledore. "I do believe that your experience at the end of your second year may have rendered you immune to the poison."
Harry laughed at the thought. "So, you mean to tell me that being bitten by a basilisk may actually have been beneficial to me? That would be a first. Something happening to Harry Potter that actually was helpful."
Dumbledore was happy to see his young student find something positive out of this whole mess.
"Well, you best be running along," added the headmaster, "I'm sure your friends are looking forward to being able to spend some time with you this evening. We'll continue this discussion at another time."
Harry was making his way towards the Gryffindor common room, unaware that two young women are following him in the shadows of the hallways.