Hour 12: 6 AM
Previously in Harry Potter 24:
Voldemort begins to reveal his plans to his Death Eaters:
"We will be bringing a couple of Harry Potter's friends for a visit with us today," began Voldemort. "I have something very special planned for them after they arrive. Until they do join us here, once they are captured they are to be treated with the utmost care. I hope that I make myself perfectly clear. They will be but a part of the plan that will continue to unfold throughout the day."
Scabior and Bellatrix plan to head to Hogsmeade to capture two students
As Bellatrix spoke she twirled some of her dark curls with her left hand as she spun her wand in her right hand. "Now, love, have you made sure that Potter's friends will be heading to Hogsmeade for the day?"
Scabior replied with a feral grin, "Already working on that, you may consider it a forgone conclusion that they will be where we need them to be at the right time."
Narcissa finds Lucius passed out in their room:
"Another night of drinking and raping muggle women," she thought as she stared at the man whom she had married all those years ago. The man whose own failures had led to their son being marked for death by the individual who had taken over their house and was now running their lives.
The Twelfth Hour, 6 AM to 7 AM, Saturday, October 19, 1996
Neither Harry nor Ron was able to sleep very well after their early morning row. Finally resigning himself to not being able to get any more sleep, the boy-who-lived felt more like the teen-who-was-exhausted. He pulled himself up and headed into the shower, hoping that would help him feel more alive.
As he was drying himself off, he noted that Ron was also using a shower. Apparently he couldn't sleep any better. Harry hoped that they both would move on from the foolishness of their recent argument. Harry went back to his trunk and pulled on a pair of jeans, a comfortable shirt and his trainers. After all, this was a Hogsmeade weekend, and he had been looking forward to spending the day relaxing away from the castle. He was determined not to let the events of the previous night from dampening his fun.
He went down to the common room and sat himself down in front of the fire place and he found the glowing embers of the waning fire to be strangely comforting. A few minutes later found Ron setting himself down in one of the other chairs across from the fireplace.
There was an awkward silence, which finally was broken as Harry simply said, "I can't believe Umbridge is back."
"I know mate," agreed Ron as the two friends seemed to both be more than a little tired. "It's bad enough you have He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named after you, but to have the evil toad creature after you too, I don't know how you can stand it."
Harry chuckled at his comments about the 'evil toad creature.'
"What's so funny?" asked Neville as he came down the stairs.
"Actually, it's not funny, it's kind of scary," stated Ron in response.
"Scary? If something is scary to you two who seem to face down every problem in the entire wizarding world year in and year out it must be down right frightening," said Neville as he sat down with his roommates.
"Umbridge," said Harry and Ron in unison.
The Longbottom heir paled at the name. "Merlin's balls," said a shocked Neville.
"And I have a horcrux I need to get rid of," added Harry.
"You have one?" asked Ron. "Did you find it in the Room of Requirement?"
"No, I actually found it at 12 Grimmauld Place. I had Kreacher bring me there last night," explained Harry. "It turns out that Regulus Black had defected from serving Riddle when the Dark Lord nearly killed Kreacher. He had used the poor old elf to help hide one of the horcruxes. Regulus died after retrieving the horcrux. He had asked Kreacher to destroy it. Part of the little bugger's instability is due to his not being able to fulfil the request from his former master. He gave me Salazar Slytherin's Locket because I promised him that I could destroy it for him."
"Bloody hell, Harry," gasped Ron, "and you have it with you. You need to destroy it as quickly as possible."
"How do you even destroy a horcrux?" asked Neville.
Harry looked at Neville and Ron and then stood up. "Might as well get to it then," he said. "It would probably be best to do this somewhere other than our common room."
"Where would you suggest doing it then?" wondered Neville who paled a little more at the notion of dealing with such dark magic.
"Did you ever want to see the inside of the Chamber of Secrets?" asked Harry.
"Are you sure it's safe to head down there?" asked Ron. "What about the evil toad?"
"I've got the map," answered Harry with a broad grin. "I just need to remember to use it. So, let's get to it."
2nd Floor Hallway, Hogwarts
Dolores Umbridge was not a happy woman. She had come so close to capturing the one person she truly despised, the Boy-Who-Lived and who always seemed to escape from her grasp. She thought she had him for lies and breaking multiple school rules she had imposed during his fifth year at Hogwarts, but as it turned out Lord Voldemort actually had returned and she had been forced out of the position she had fought to get, that of headmistress of Hogwarts. She had been embarrassed professionally and personally by the return of Voldemort and by her brief capture by the centaurs in the Forbidden Forest. No, Dolores Umbridge was not happy at all, and she was going to make sure that she finished her task. The delinquent that had once again gained the hearts and minds of many in their world was up to no good, and he apparently actually believed that he cold fight the Dark Lord. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was the one wizard who Dolores felt she could truly respect at this time. He stood toe to toe with Albus Dumbledore, he had a special desire to kill the brat Potter and he believed that mudbloods had no true place in the magical society. No should wouldn't take the Dark Mark, she was smart enough to know that could possibly lead to poetical suicide, and her political aspirations had already taken a major hit. She knew she was taking a big risk in coming to Hogwarts, but she had received information that had indicated that Potter would be an easier target this weekend. Now she was starting to doubt the reliability of her informant.
Her small team of former members of the Inquisitorial Squad had somehow managed to allow Potter to escape. After all, it wasn't her fault that the damnable poltergeist showed up and interfered. The students should have immediately cast a body bind or other such curse on the green-eyed monster. Of course, she could not cast any spell against the boy, because she needed to make sure she stayed above it all, without any accusations of her personally doing anything to the trouble-maker. But here it was, nearly dawn and time for students to arrive for breakfast and she still did not have her quarry in hand.
Dolores and her five disciples were making their way towards the Gryffindor tower after they finally got cleaned up. She had one final chance to capture the young man before she would have to leave the school and try again later at night. She was making her way towards the stairs and she turned the corner to come face to face with the last person she wanted to meet.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. The headmaster of Hogwarts Academy for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Professor Dumbledore smiled at the former DADA teacher. "Good morning Dolores, this is quite the surprise," he said with the usual twinkle in his eye.
"Out of my way Albus, I am here on important ministry business," claimed the toad like woman.
Albus simply raised an eyebrow, and then answered softly, "And what business would that be? I was not aware of your current position within the ministry at this time."
His calm demeanour was infuriating to her. "I will have you arrested by Aurors right now for obstruction of justice if you do not get out of my way immediately!" she said adamantly.
"Really? That is a most unusual claim for you to be making at this time, Dolores," said Albus in his typical unflappable response. "Why I was just having tea the other day with Madam Amelia Bones and she did not make me aware of any new appointments within her department or of any reported wrong doing on behalf of either my staff or the students. So, Dolores, I would have to ask you just what am I obstructing? If you needed to get past me in this hallway all you would have to do would be to ask. Asking politely would make it even more likely that I would comply. However, that would lead us to the next problem that I see. Where is it that you are heading? You are not on the staff here at the school. You do not have a current active ministry appointment that would entitle you to free access of the castle and school grounds. So I find myself in the position of having to refuse your request and not move out of your way at this time."
Umbridge briefly considered pulling her wand on the old man, but she had heard how he had duelled with the Dark Lord and she had to admit to herself that her own magical skill just might come up lacking in the face of a duel with this man. She was clearly becoming agitated and was about to threaten him verbally one more time, but the headmaster spoke up again.
"Now, if you plan to tell me that your men will come and take away me or even anyone else here within the castle then I feel I need to inform you that would not be happening." He paused as he let his words sink into the pink dressed woman's mind. "Yes, I know about those two men. Shortly after someone arrived on the school property, which includes the Forbidden Forest, we did send someone to investigate and they came upon your two associates. I do believe that they are being questioned by Aurors at this time. I did speak with Amelia about this unfortunate situation just a few minutes ago, and she assured me that she would have additional Aurors here presently if there were any further difficulties with trespassers on the school grounds. So, I would very much appreciate it if you would accompany to my office while we await the arrival of the Aurors."
Dolores was speechless.
Then the headmaster turned to address the five students who had been following the former High Inquisitor. "Now, as of this point in time I am not aware of any specific rules that you may have broken other than possibly being out and about the castle before curfew is over. So, perhaps it would be best for you to return to your dormitory at this time and freshen up before heading to breakfast."
The four students turned to their leader Pansy, who had turned red with embarrassment upon their being caught by the headmaster. Pansy Parkinson turned on her heals and started heading back towards the Slytherin dungeons. The other students were quick to follow.
Chamber of Secrets
Harry had led Ron and Neville down to Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom and then down unto the Chamber of Secrets. The presence of the dead basilisk was initially quite intimidating to Harry's friends.
"You killed that when we were second years?" exclaimed Neville.
Ron's eyes looked away from the giant snake carcass as he scanned around the room. Harry noted that is friend seemed to be concerned about something else other than the basilisk. Harry stepped up to his friend.
"If you're wondering where Ginny and Riddle it was right over here," said Harry as he led his friend over to the place where he had found Ginny's unconscious body next to the diary that was actually a horcrux. Harry then pointed out the place where he had collapsed and stabbed the diary with the basilisk fang. There was still a dark stain on the stone floor from the effect of the venom seeping through the magical book.
Harry hadn't really spent much time thinking about that day. He recalled the pain of the venom starting to spread through his body. He unconsciously grabbed the scar on his right arm where he had been impaled by the fang as he killed the deadly serpent. Neville and Ron looked at Harry who was lost in thought.
"Sorry mate," said Ron, "I really didn't mean to bring back bad memories. I was just curious, you know, about…"
"It's okay," said Harry as he cut off Ron. "Well, then, we better get to it now, let's take care of this locket."
Harry pulled the locket from around his neck and placed it on the floor in between them.
"Now what do you need to do?" asked Neville.
Harry then pulled one of the basilisk fangs he had wrapped up from out of his magical satchel. "I guess we stab it," offered Harry. He lifted the fang up and went to stab it into the old locket and the locket started to roll across the floor.
"Bloody hell," exclaimed Ron. "That thing is acting like its alive!"
"Do you want one of us to hold it still?" asked Neville.
"No," answered Harry, "I wouldn't want to slip and stab either one of you with the venom."
"Yeah," agreed Ron, "I wouldn't want that either."
"It looks like the locket has a latch, maybe if you open it the locket won't be able to roll around anymore," suggest Neville.
"Sounds like a great idea," said Harry. He picked up the locket and tried to open the latch but it wouldn't budge. All three of the teens tried to open it but they could not get the latch to move.
"It could be locked," suggested Ron.
Harry tried casting the aloharama spell to unlock it, but again he was unsuccessful.
"It was Slytherin's locket," commented Ron, "and Riddle turned it into a horcrux. They both used parseltongue. It worked to get down here, maybe you need to use it to pen the locket."
Harry wondered why he hadn't thought of that all ready, but he then placed the locket back on the floor and held the fang in his right hand. Neville and Ron only heard Harry hiss unintelligibly, but suddenly the locket spring open. Harry pulled his arm back to swing it down hard on the locket but he stopped in mid motion as a face appeared from within the locket.
"Harry Potter!" hissed the voice. "Stop! Don't destroy this locket! Us it for yourself, I can give you power through this locket!"
"I don't need your power, Riddle," yelled Harry back at the locket.
"You can't destroy this locket, you already know that your friends don't trust you, the other students don't trust you. You're a parselmouth, to them you must be evil. If you start down this path they will still all turn on you and betray you. Join me, take this locket and its power and I can make you strong, I can help potent you from the betrayal of your friends, of the ministry, of Dumbledore!"
"No!" screamed Harry as he slammed the fang down into the locket. There was an ear piercing screech as the venom leaked into the piece of jewellery and a dark mist rose up out of the locket. Harry felt a sharp pain in his scar as he did this and fell backwards catching himself with his left hand. He then dropped the fang and crawled away from the evil object that had apparently just died.
The three of them stared in silent awe at what they had just witnessed. After a few minutes in silence, Harry finally spoke quietly, "Three down, three more to go. But where will we ever find them?"
"Well, guys, I'm starving," said Ron as he stared at the mist as it dissipated, "what do you say we go get some breakfast."
3rd Floor Hallway
Seamus was walking the halls early in the morning. To any who might be observing him, it appeared that he might be looking for something that was lost as he would occasionally duck his head in to classroom or a broom closet. As he neared the stairwell on the third floor he noted a broom closet that he thought appeared to be prefect. "This should work," he said to himself. He walked up to the closet and opened the door.
He was startled to find a blonde haired student sitting in their bound with ropes.
Luna Lovegood looked up with surprise at the young man who was her rescuer. "Thank you, Seamus Finnegan," she said happily, "I was starting to get stiff sitting here."
Seamus was shocked, to say the least, to find the young Ravenclaw student here. "Well, here you go," he said as he untied her. He felt uncomfortable under her gaze, which he somehow felt was accusatory.
Quickly he tried to explain himself, "I couldn't sleep, as Harry and Ron had been fighting earlier, and then as I was walking around I thought I heard something over near here. Then I looked inside here and, well, it's a good thing I found you when I did."
Luna stood up after she was untied and stretched her arms and legs as she stepped out of the closet. "Thank you again, Seamus," she added. Then she stared at him sideways, and before she walked away she added, "I think the gargles are back again, Seamus, you may want to ask Harry if he knows a good way to get rid of them, as he hasn't had any at all this year."
Seamus watched her walk away and quietly replied, "Sure, I'll do that straight away." Once she was far enough he way he added, "No wonder they call her Loony." He looked back into the broom closet and then he muttered again, "Right, this should do the trick nicely." Then he closed the door to the broom closet and turned and walked away.