Hour 18: 12 PM
Previously in Harry Potter 24:
At Hogwarts: Harry runs into Draco Malfoy:
Draco warns him about Voldemort's plans and tells him that Seamus is working with Parkinson and for Voldemort
He then tells Harry that he is leaving because the Dark Lord wants him dead
Narcissa tries to head to 12 Grimmauld Place – but can't get in…
Malfoy manor – Hermione tells Voldemort about Harry's plans to destroy horcruxes
Hogwarts: Harry runs into Snape in the hallways
Snape had an evil grin. "I've been looking forward to the chance to do this for so long."
Harry closed his eyes tightly as he heard Snape's next words.
"Avada kedavra!" he exclaimed as he swished his wand.
Harry was hit with a bolt of green energy directly in his forehead. He collapsed to the floor without making a sound...
Several minutes later:
Once Potter's eyes seemed to be able to focus on his surroundings, Snape spoke to him. "Sorry about that Potter, but we needed to get rid of one more horcrux."
"What the bloody hell," screamed Harry, "you killed me!"
"Stop whining," replied Snape, "you don't look so bad for someone who is supposed to be dead, again." He waited a minute while Harry propped himself up into a sitting position leaning against the wall he had backed up against just a few minutes before.
"Your mothers love wasn't here to protect you," Snape began to explain, "instead you have the deathly hallows."
The Eighteenth Hour: 12 PM - 1 PM, Saturday, October, 19, 1996
Black Family Summer Home
Bellatrix had landed in a field that had not been cared for in many years. She looked around and noted the old Black Summer Home appeared much as she had remembered it, other than some obvious weathering and a lack of care for the yard and garden. She let out a deep breath as she fought the emotional response of seeing the place that held so many special memories of a happy and untroubled childhood. That seemed like it must have been someone else's life as she recalled how the last twenty years of her life had been spent. She walked up to the door and placed her hand on the handle. The magic of the house recognised her as a black and the door slowly swung open. Bella looked around and saw that the place was filthy with dust and cobwebs. She stared at the mess and she tried to remember the names of the house elves that the family had when she was young. The name Ariel came to mind, but that was a long time ago and she worried that there was not enough magic left to have sustained the house elves if no one had been here for so many years.
She closed her eyes and softly called out "Ariel" hoping that the house elf might still be here. Or maybe another house elf might be in the home and hear her calling out. She stood there for a couple of minutes, and there was no response. She opened her eyes and she looked around the house.
"Bloody hell," she muttered to herself, "I never learned any house cleaning spells. Or cooking spells for that matter. I'm as useless as a muggle."
She was starting to feel depressed when she heard a pop and looked down to see a house elf. The elf seemed to be somewhat familiar. Their skin was pale, their eyes were sunken and yellowed, and their hair was unkempt, but the smile on the elf seemed to be familiar.
"Ariel," she asked, "is that really you?"
"Mistress Bella," croaked out the elf weakly, "have you really come back?" The weary elf lunged forward and grasped Bellatrix around her legs and hugged her tight. "No one has come by for years," she cried, "the others didn't have enough magic to sustain them for so long, I'm sorry but I have been too weak to take care of the house. Please forgive me, Miss Bella."
Bellatrix looked down at the top of the head of the house elf that was weeping as she held on tight to Bella's legs. She wasn't sure how to respond to the small creature. Tentatively she reached out with her hand and patted Ariel on her head. She heard the sobs grow louder as the elf grabbed her legs even tighter. For over five minutes the house elf just held on and sobbed. After the first three minutes Bellatrix noted a pull on her magic. She could feel her magic flowing out of her and into the elf. Briefly she considered pushing the elf away from her, but then she decided to just wait. The elf's sobs began to subside but the grip on Bella's legs remained firm. After ten minutes Ariel finally pushed herself away.
"Thank you, Miss Bella," said the frail elf as she wiped a tear from her eye.
Bellatrix noted that the eyes seemed a little less yellow and Ariel's hair seemed a little less flat. The ears seemed to even perk up slightly.
"It will be okay," said Bella.
"Can Ariel do anything for Miss Bella?" asked the elf.
Bellatrix actually considered telling the elf 'no' out of concern for her frail nature, but then she saw how just the brief contact had already started to affect her, how it seemed to be making her healthier.
"Well, Ariel," spoke Bellatrix hesitantly, "if it wouldn't be too much trouble, I am rather hungry. And thirsty," she added but internally she worried about over taxing the miniature servant.
"Ariel be going to get food for Miss Bella," announced the elf with an excitement that would have until very recently been incredibly irritating to the proud Bellatrix. "Ariel get food and drink for Bella. Then Ariel come back and clean the house. Then Ariel can take care of Miss Bella properly. Ariel can prepare the beds and make sure the linens are properly cleaned."
"Slow down, my little friend," said Bella. The word friend coming across her lips was odd, but nice she thought. "Fine, get me a sandwich and some juice, please, and then we will talk about what else needs to be done."
There was a slight pop as the house elf disappeared. Bellatrix was amazed at how much healthier the house elf already appeared compared to when she had first shown up. Bella then looked around the house and saw a room with a rug that did not seem quite as dusty as the rest of the house. Sitting herself down in the middle of the rug she pulled out the pieces of the moving picture that she had previously torn and layer them out on the floor. Carefully she arranged the pieces together and she felt a little anger at herself for ripping apart this picture that was bringing back so many happy memories.
A minute later there was another pop as Ariel arrived with food. Quickly she had cleaned the kitchen table and made a place where Bellatrix could eat. Leaving the shredded picture on the floor, she stood up and went to the table to sit down. She had to refrain from swallowing too fast as she felt like she had not eaten in years. Once she had finished the sandwich and the juice, Bella stood up and was about to head abc to the parlour where she had left the picture. Ariel walked into the room upon hearing Bella push away from the table and she went to clear the plate and the glass.
"Thank you, Ariel," said Bella politely to her new friend.
Bellatrix could have sworn the elf's skin seemed to look healthier by the minute at this time.
"Miss Bella doesn't need to be thanking Ariel for doing her job," said the house elf who seemed to blush slightly, "Ariel is just happy to be able to serve Miss Bella, to serve the Black Family again. Miss Bella has come home and her magic is saving Ariel and saving the house!"
Bella wasn't sure what to make of all of this, so she just smiled and walked back into the parlour. She looked down at the floor for her picture pieces but they were not there. Bella felt a sudden panic rise within her, and then she noticed something on the shelf by the mantle of the fireplace. Ariel must have picked up the pieces and used her elf magic to restore the picture. It was now framed and sitting on the mantle. Bellatrix stepped forward to take a closer look and she wiped a tear from her eye. "Damn," she thought to herself, "I better not be making a habit out of this emotional crap."
Steeling herself from the emotional outburst she was feeling she turned and faced the little elf. "Ariel, thank you again for repairing the picture," she said with a large smile. "I need to go though, I have something important I need to do.I will return as quickly as possible," she added, "but I have to go get something."
"Miss Bella needs to go somewhere," commented Ariel, "Ariel can be helping Miss Bella."
Bellatrix realised that she needed a safe way to get to where she was going as she was currently a wanted criminal, an escapee from Azkaban. "Actually, I think you might be able to help."
Room of Requirement
Harry was starting to feel like a yo-yo, going one way and then the other. He had started to head towards his dorm when he changed his mind and decided that he needed to make a determined effort to find the horcrux that he had assumed was hidden in the castle. So Harry had changed direction and made his way to the 7th floor corridor. There was no door across from the tapestry that depicted a wizard trying to teach trolls to dance, so Harry knew that there was no one using the room. He wasn't sure if Draco had left the school yet, but somehow Harry felt that he could believe the blonde who had been a throne in his side for so many years. After pacing back and forth three times and thinking only about needing to find a horcrux, he was relieved that a door appeared.
Harry slowly opened the door and he was almost surprised to see the room of missing things, the room where he had searched before, the same room that Draco claimed had a destroyed vanishing cabinet that he had been assigned to fix to assist with an invasion of the school by Voldemort's followers.
He walked in and looked for the area where he had seen Draco working on the cabinet. He quickly saw the truth in Draco's words as there were only splinters and broken shards of wood where the cabinet had been only the night before. Harry sighed deeply as the reality of an attack from Voldemort and the Death Eaters was truly going to happen this very day sunk in.
Shaking off his fears he began to search in earnest for the unknown object. He hoped that he wouldn't have to take to long to look for it when he noticed something catch his eye to his right. Turning he noted there was a bronze bust of someone Harry presumed must have been a famous wizard at some point in the past. On top of the wizards head was a tiara or diadem, with jewels that actually seemed to sparkle. Harry pulled out a cloth from his satchel and he carefully picked up the diadem and he could feel an ominous presence as he did so. "This had better be what I need," he thought and then he turned to leave.
Hermione Granger had just released the Death Eater from her first cruciatus curse after Voldemort let her play and learn new skills. She was so excited she was rubbing her hands up and down the tight bustier that covered her body. Voldemort thought he could detect a slight shiver from the young woman.
"So, you have something special planned for our guest?" asked the Dark Lord.
"Oh yes," she purred in response. Her words sent a chill through Ginny.
"While trying out the killing curse might be oh so much fun," explained the teen who was previously known for her strict adherence to the rules and authority, "I think that it would be over much to quickly. I was hoping that the experience would be a little more fulfilling. Besides, it would allow me to try some new things if I took my time with this," she added with another lick of her lips.
Several of the Death Eaters present cringed at the comments from the person in front of them, a person who until just a couple of hours ago was prim and proper and polite; but now she seemed to be even more consumed with perverse sadistic pleasure than Bellatrix had been when she had been under the power of the dark amulet. No one really wanted to know anything more about that amulet, what they were seeing in front of them was more than knowledge enough.
Voldemort reclined in his throne as he waved his hand towards the prisoner that was still bound to the wall.
Hermione took a few steps towards her former friend. Ginny whimpered and cried, but she realised that begging for mercy at this point would probably only make things worse for her.
"Goodbye Ginevra," said Hermione with a hiss as she rested her left hand on her hip which she suggestively stuck out to one side. Lazily she twirled her wand with her right hand for a minute before making a quick and sudden movement as she cast her first spell.
Hermione sent a bludgeoning hex directly at Ginny. Then she followed that with a cutting curse. She then proceeded to alternate the curses rapidly, but she mostly used the bludgeoning hex. She paused briefly and stared at the bleeding form the various wounds on the red-head's arms and legs.
"Oh, that won't do at all," she said with mock concern, and then Hermione used some healing charms to stop the bleeding. After observing her handiwork she sent a couple more bludgeoning hexes at the suffering girl who had stoically tried to avoid screaming out in pain, but the final curse was too much. Ginny screamed once and then she collapsed unconscious. Hermione then released the magical bonds and the body fell lifelessly to the floor.
Watching the scene unfold before him, Yaxley said out loud to no one in particular, "Remind me never to piss that woman off…"
Voldemort stood up and applauded the sadistic display they and all just witnessed.
He then turned to his followers, "Now everyone, we must get going, we do have a schedule to keep. Remember your assigned roles." Then he turned to Hermione, "My little lioness must head back to school before she is sorely missed." He reached out and caressed the side of her face. Then he added, "But clean up this mess before you go," as he waved his hand in the direction of the lifeless body on the floor.
Hermione sauntered over to the corner of the room and used a levitation charm to lift Ginny's body. She brought to upstairs and thought about placing it in the room where she had changed earlier, but then she decided she didn't want to make a mess there in case she wanted to 'borrow' any more of Bellatrix's clothes. Looking around she noted the door across the hall, and opened that and she found a large bedroom decorated in typical Slytherin colours as well as several Quidditch posters. "This must be Draco's room," she thought. "This is as good as nay place else," she said to herself as she then levitated the body and dumped it on the floor.
Laughing to herself she walked back downstairs and she saw that almost everyone had already left. Alecto Carrow walked up to her and said softly, "Let me side along apparate you back to Hogsmeade so you can get back to your school. I am sure that you will be having just so much fun the rest of today."
12: 25 PM
Bellatrix had no idea that it was possible to apparate directly into Gringotts. The bank had some of the best magical wards in the world. Ariel let go of her hand after they had arrived in a room adjacent to the lobby. The house elf noted the confusion on Miss Bella's face and so she explained that house elves had long ago been granted the ability to apparate directly to the antechamber off of the lobby. This was originally allowed to placate wizards who did not want to have to deal with other people's house elves, even if they had passed the laws that allowed house elves to access your vault for you if you specifically requested them to do so.
Bellatrix thanked her house elf for the assistance and then she walked up to the teller, trying to maintain the air of superiority she used to have before the amulet had been removed. It was soon quite obvious that the goblins were not looking forward to dealing with her and she could easily understand why as she remembered the last few times she had entered the bank. She waited patiently for the next available teller and then she quietly explained that she would need an account manager as well as she would need to access her vault.
The goblin seemed tense, as if he was waiting to be threatened in one way or another, but Bellatrix simply stood there and waited patiently while the account manager was summoned. Two minutes later an older goblin with little hair but noticeably sharp teeth came up behind the teller. He looked at the teller and then he looked at the woman who seemed to be waiting patiently.
"Very well, Mrs. Lestrange," said the goblin, "I am account manager Strongclaw, would you follow me please."
He was surprised to receive a civil reply without any arguing or complaints as they headed down the corridor and into the first conference room.
"Please have a seat, Mrs. Lestrange," commented the goblin, "we will of course need to do a blood identity test before we proceed. Standard procedure, as you may well understand." He braced himself for a verbal tirade from the woman who was all too well known in the back as being one of the least pleasant or stable witches they had ever seen. He was sure this must be an impostor trying to break into the Lestrange family vault as this person was clearly not behaving like Bellatrix Lestrange.
Strongclaw produced a small but ornate ritual knife. He held it out towards Bellatrix and she allowed him to prick her finger. Three drops of blood were collected on a piece of magically prepared parchment. The goblin watched the words from slowly on the document, eagerly anticipating the results that would indicate he would have the right to take this person as a prisoner for attempting to steal from the goblins and from one or more of their customers. To his surprise the parchment revealed that indeed her identity was Bellatrix Lestrange, nee Black, and that she had access to the Lestrange Vault, her old trust vault and limited access to some items in the Black Family vault but not to any of the gold in that particular vault.
Bellatrix was relieved to see she still had access to those vaults and then she looked up at the now stunned and disappointed goblin banker.
"Account manager Strongclaw," she said respectfully, "would it be possible for me to open a new account, under my maiden name, that no one other than myself would have access to?"
"But of course," came the immediate reply. "It would only take a moment to arrange, and I am sure you understand the cost for such a vault would depend on both the level of the vault and the security measures put in place."
"Very good," said Bella, "then I would like to open a new vault, it can be on one of the higher levels, but no higher than the third tier. The standard security measures should be put in place, with no access to anyone other than myself, including my husband or brother in law. Oh, and by the way, how much of the contents of the Lestrange vault can I access today?"
"There is a limit to no more than 50% of the gold galleons being removed at any one time," explained the account manager. "Although you can remove any items that you have placed in the vault, as well as any items with a maximum retail value of 100,000 galleons."
"That would be fine," said Bella with a sly grin. The goblin somehow felt more comfortable as he recognised that grin from observing previous encounters that the goblins have had with her. "I shall be back quickly," he added as he left to go get the required paperwork and authorisations.
While he was gone she thought about the things she had overheard before she had left Malfoy Manor. There was talk about soul anchors, a topic which she had delved into researching when she was younger and had access to the Black Family Library at 12 Grimmauld Place. She quickly discerned that the item which her former master, Lord Voldemort, had given her, the golden cup of Helga Hufflepuff was actually a horcrux. She considered how easily in her mind how she had referred to the Dark Lord as her former master as she had felt so completely betrayed when he had removed the amulet. But the longer she went without the amulet, the more she felt she had merely been subjected to some very powerful mind control that totally controlled her actions and her beliefs. She shivered slightly as she thought about what the cursed necklace could possibly be doing to the mind of the mud-blood, Granger, who would have been completely unsuspecting and if she had no occlumency training she would have had no defences to protect herself from its influence. Yet there was nothing she could do about that now, all she could do was work on seeking her own revenge, and right now that was to bring the cup to the one person who might be able to do something about it.
Her thoughts were interrupted as Strongclaw returned to the conference room.
"Just a moment, Mrs. Lestrange," said the goblin, "all we have to do is have you sign these papers and we can have the vault prepared for you by the time you get there after accessing the Lestrange vault, as I assume that is your first priority."
"You assume correctly, Strongclaw," replied Bella as she quickly reviewed the forms she would need to sign. "Now, as my account manager, can I pay your services out of any of the vaults to which I have funds?"
"But of course," answered Strongclaw. "Then I would like you to take a full 10% of the total value of all properties and monies which I transfer from the Lestrange vault to pay for your service fee. And please do that AFTER I have removed my funds from the vault."
"That will be done as you wish, Mrs. Lestrange," acknowledged the account manager as he tried to suppress the feral grin which was arising from displaying to many of his teeth, lest he be seen as being too eager.
Voldemort and his followers had all vacated the Manor. One house elf appeared in the manor and quickly made their way to the master bedroom. They were under strict instructions to obtain just a few simple items. The elf noted that Lord Malfoy appeared to be sleeping on the bed, but she paid him no mind as she had a clear directive for getting a few articles of clothing which her mistress had left behind. With another pop, even the house elf was now gone.
Bellatrix Lestrange walked into the vault where many years ago she had carefully placed Helga Hufflepuff's cup to keep it safe for the Dark Lord. She had the goblins remove all of the magical enchantments on the vault which she had commissioned herself at the time. She was grateful that she had been the one to arrange the protections as that made it much easier for her to have them revoked. Looking around briefly she quickly spied the historical goblet high on a shelf in the back of the vault. Silently she indicated to the goblin who was with her which item she needed, and the goblin retrieved it quickly and brought it back to her.
She slid the cup into the magical satchel she had obtained from the bank, and then she gave the order for half of the contents of gold galleons to be removed and placed in her new vault which was only accessible by Bellatrix Black. Upon retrieving the gold and the item she had come for, she then arranged for the goblins to acknowledge her magical divorce based on betrayal and enchantment. Soon she would be legally known as Bellatrix Black once again, and while she did not have the total wealth that her family had when she was younger, absconding with half of the fortune of her now ex-husband and his brother was more than enough for her to live off of for a very long time.
12: 50 PM
Professor Snape's Quarters, Hogwarts
Draco Malfoy stood outside of the personal headquarters for his head of house. He was worried that this might prove to be a dangerous move on his part. Finally he knocked on the door and he heard the deep drawl of the former potions professor call out "Come in."
"Professor," began Draco as he approached the greasy haired man, "I need to request a special leave."
Snape raised an eyebrow at the young man. His look made it clear that he expected Draco to explain further.
"I cannot stay here. I am sure that you are aware of the coming events. Or at least part of them. If I am still here at the castle when the Dark Lord arrives, I have heard that he plans to have me killed as an example to my father as well as to others who might think they can get away with failure in the eyes of the Dark Lord."
Snape was surprised as this was a turn that he had not expected. He tried to appear to actually take some time and consider the options, and then he finally replied, "And just how do you plan to leave?"
"I was hoping to use your floo so that I could travel home to make sure that certain others are safe." Draco shifted uneasily as he awaited a response.
"Very well, Malfoy, you may feel free to use it."
"Thank you sir," was all Snape heard before he realised that Draco had grabbed some floo powder and stepped through the fireplace.
Draco now found himself stumbling into the manor's lounge which he hoped would keep him away from any possibly remaining Death Eaters.
He wondered if his mother had managed to get away. Carefully he made his way upstairs just in case there was anyone who had actually stayed behind. He first went to his parents' bedroom to see if there was any sign of his mother. He immediately noted his father was sleeping on the bed, but as he approached closer he then discerned that his father was, in fact, not breathing.
A quick visual search of the room told him that a number of his mother's belongings and clothing items were missing. Draco assumed that his mother had been able to leave the manor, and he hoped that it would have been successful escape.
Draco slowly turned and walked down the hall to his own bedroom. He pushed open the door and his jaw dropped. There, lying on the floor between the bed and the wall was the body of the blood traitor, Ginevra Molly Weasley.
"Merlin's hairy…," he said to the emptiness of his home.