Hour 14: 8 AM
Previously in Harry Potter 24:
Harry, Ron and Neville catch up with Hermione and Ginny at breakfast, but are unable to tell them what they have done due to other people showing up...
The group makes plans for heading to Hogsmeade for the day…
At Malfoy Manor, Narcissa prepares as special hang over remedy for Lucius…
Back in the Great Hall, Dumbledore and Snape discuss plans for later on in the day…
Draco Malfoy receives a message from an unfamiliar owl…
The Fourteenth Hour, 8 AM - 9 AM, Saturday, October 19, 1996
7th Floor Hallway
Draco had stopped in front of the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy trying to teach trolls to dance. Instead of pacing back and forth three times as he usually would he stood there and retrieved the letter form his pocket. He had recognised his mother's handwriting on the parchment. The fact that his mother used a strange owl to send him a message was concerning to him. He wondered what it could mean and he wanted to be away from everyone when he finally looked at what she had to tell him.
I hope that this letter makes it to you. I need to let you know that things are not all that they seem. I overheard the houseguest speaking to his associates this morning. To be blunt, no matter what happens today, whether you are successful in your project or not, you are marked for death by the associates. I think that your only chance would be to get as far away as possible. Completion of your project would only make it easier for someone to find you and for them to finish their mission. I will need to be making arrangements shortly for my own safety. When this all is over, I will try and find you. Remember not everything is as it seems. Not everything you have been taught is true. Blood purity is not what is really important. Family is more important. Perhaps your cousins are proof of that.
Please do everything in your power to remain safe. If we both make it through this day, I will make eery effort to find you my son. You are all that I have left,
Draco's mind was reeling at what he read. His world had been torn down around him. For years he felt his mother did not understand what was important, that she did not see the truth of the blood purity movement as his father explained it to him. That the Dark Lord was the one who would set things right in the magical world. But as he read the words that his mother had written to him, he considered the past year. Lord Voldemort had indeed returned, and he had taken up residence in their home. He treated everyone as servants, no matter what their blood status was; however if you were a pure blood you were slightly less likely to face his wrath. He had seen his father change over the past five years from a proud man who had power and money to a cowering fool who was sent to Azkaban only to have the Dark Lord break him out of prison and treat him as a slave.
Draco had considered his own actions. He had hoped that by volunteering to do anything for the cause that he would be able to bring back glory and pride to the name of Malfoy. But if what his mother had just told him then there was no way that would be possible. One lesson that he had learned from his father was that of survival. Draco realized that he now needed to concentrate on his own survival.
He began to pace back and forth in front of the tapestry. On his third pass a door appeared in the opposite wall and Draco walked towards it with a new outlook and a steely determination. He would start making choices for what he wanted, not the Dark Lord, not his father and not what he thought his father would want from him.
Hogsmeade Village, back alley
In an alley way off of the main road in Hogsmeade there was a pop as two people appeared by apparition. The man had short blonde hair and a clean shaven face, while the woman had wavy light brown hair and a slight smirk. There robes were simple and dark. They began to walk towards the main road and then seemed to be inspecting the various establishments. On one end of the village was a quaint shop that only was rarely frequented by students. The two strangers made their way into Madam Pudifoot's Tea Room. The woman had to stop herself from retching at the gaudy decorations and the sickly sweet perfume of the potpourri that was causing the fragrances in the room to be overwhelming.
A stout woman, with shiny black hair pulled back into a tight bun stepped out from behind the counter to greet the two customers who had just walked in. While they did not appear to be her typical clientele, she reminded herself that a customer was a customer, so she warmly said hello and offered them a seat.
"Oh, we won't be needing a seat," said the woman with a slight cackle. She then immediately drew her wand and cast a spell.
The imperius curse was simple and quick, and there were not many people who could throw it off. Madam Pudifoot's expression went blank for a moment.
"Now, love," spoke the woman, "if you be so kind as to show us the rooms on the second floor. We will need to use them for the day. And you of course will tell no one about our being here. You will conduct your business as normal until we say otherwise."
The stout owner of the tea shop simply nodded in acceptance of the commands she received. Then she indicated the way to the stairway through the back of the shop. "Right this way," she intoned as she slowly led the two intruders to the back of the store and up to the rooms which they had commandeered.
Once they arranged themselves in the room that gave them the best view of the village they sat down to wait for the students to start to arrive.
Room of Requirement
Draco had entered the Room of Requirement and initially he paced back and forth. He was unsure of what he should do. He had already decided that he was not going to finish repairing the vanishing cabinet, but what to do after that. He knew that the Dark Lord was planning something big today. Part of those plans were about to be ruined. Once it was discovered that he had failed on his end, or that he had deliberately not completed his task he knew that he would be a marked man. Hell, he was already a marked man based on what his mother had said.
"I need to do something," he said as he walked back to where the vanishing cabinet was.
Draco let all of his anger and frustration build and then he focused all of that raw emotion into the blasting hex he directed at the cabinet that had been vexing him for months. The resulting explosion and flying splinters of wood was somehow deeply satisfying.
Draco simply stared at the mess that now littered the floor where the vanishing cabinet once stood. He laughed slightly as he realised that the 'mess' he had made was hardly noticeable due to the disarray of everything else in the room.
He then sat down in a couch to consider what he was going to do next. He was pretty sure that by the mid afternoon, if not earlier, that the Dark Lord would be coming to Hogwarts to go after Dumbledore and Potter. He briefly considered warning them, but he wasn't sure there was any point. But more importantly, he knew he needed to leave, but he just wasn't sure when that would be. He couldn't return to his home if the Death Eaters were still there. He only knew a little of the timing that the group had planned.
So for now, he decided he would just wait here, and avoid contact with any of the other Death Eater wannabes who were possibly involved with other plans to prepare for the coming invasion.
Hogwarts Castle, main entrance
Hermione and Ginny were waiting near the main entrance to Hogwarts. They were expecting the boys to meet up with them any time now. After several minutes, Harry, Ron, Neville and Seamus finally arrived. As they were about to leave both Luna Lovegood and Hannah Abbot joined their group.
"All right then," said Harry as he looked over the group of friends, "are we waiting on anyone else to join us?"
"I don't think so," answered Hermione.
"It's such a nice day today," commented Luna, "who wants to walk down to Hogsmeade instead of taking a carriage? It's a great day for a nice stroll."
"That sounds like it cold be fun," answered Ginny.
Ron glowered at her briefly.
"Hey, as long as we're heading down there, I'm fine with that," added Seamus.
Hogwarts Castle, Main Entrance
Several minutes after the group of Gryffindor students who were accompanied by Luna and Hannah had left, two sixth year Slytherin Witches stepped outside of the Great Hall. Peering down the long path towards the main gate, Tracey and Daphne noted the group of students walking to the village.
"Really," exclaimed Tracey, "they're walking there? Great, I suppose that now you're going to say we have to walk to Hogsmeade too."
Daphne smirked at her friend. "You know it, girlfriend. And the walk won't hurt you. Besides, it might just help you tone those muscles in your legs and your butt, maybe that red-headed Gryffindor might see past your slimy scales and take interest in you," she added with a laugh."
"Did I ever tell you how much I hate you?" asked Tracey with a pout.
"Not if I help you land a date with the Weasel-pig you have your eyes on," added Daphne.
Tracey responded by sticking her tongue out at her best friend.
"Let's start walking," added Daphne as she took her friend by the arm and they began to walk to the nearby village.
Severus Snape walked into the headmaster's office to find Dolores Umbridge magically tied to a chair.
"So, Dolores, it is true what I heard, you actually did decide to come back to Hogwarts," said the former Death Eater with a wry grin.
"You better let me go right now, Severus, or so help me…" snarled the diminutive woman.
"You'll do exactly what will you do, Dolores?" he asked. "You know what is happening, the Dark Lord will be here later today, and you failed in your mission to capture Potter. The Dark Lord's plans today will not fail. If I release you , you would need to leave before Lord Voldemort arrives and shows his displeasure with you for your lack of success."
Snape pulled out his wand and pointed it towards her. As he was doing this the door behind him opened up and two Aurors arrived. Snape looked over his shoulder and then turned back to Umbridge. "Too bad, Dolores, your chaperones for bringing you to the Minister and the offices of the DMLE have arrived. "Have a pleasant day," he said as he turned and walked away after hiding his wand in his robes.