Hour 19: 1 PM
Previously in Harry Potter 24:
Black Family Summer House: after escaping from Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix finds a safe house, and an elf to help care for her…
Room of Requirement: Harry sees that Draco had indeed destroyed the vanishing cabinet and he then finds the Diadem of Ravenclaw…
Malfoy Manor: Hermione attacks Ginny, and leaves her lifeless body in Draco's bedroom…
Bellatrix heads to Gringotts, retrieves Hufflepuff's cup…
Draco leaves Hogwarts and returns to Malfoy Manor, assuming it to be empty:
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.
The Nineteenth Hour: 1 PM - 2 PM, Saturday, October 19, 1996
Draco had walked into his bedroom and he was shocked to see a body laying there, clearly beaten and injured. Then he recognised the long red hair. His initial reaction was to think: "Bloody hell, a Weasley, in my bedroom, what is the world coming to." But then he realised that his world is completely different to him now than it was less than six hours ago. The individual whom he thought would lead magical Britain to a new era of glory with Draco right there with him wanted him dead, and there were people whom he had detested for years who now he held a certain amount of respect for. So Draco took a figurative step back and reassessed what he had just discovered in his bedroom.
A red headed young woman. A red headed young woman who was quite beautiful, he had to admit. A red headed young woman who may be quite beautiful but who was badly beaten and could quite possibly be quite dead lying not he floor of his bedroom. Draco's brain seemed to engage all of a sudden and he jumped down to the side of the Weasley girl. As he felt for a pulse or some sign of life he also tried to force his brain to remember her name. 'Weaslette' was wrong. So was 'the stupid red-headed Potter fangirl.' He was starting to panic slightly as he was starting to realise that this young woman was dead. He cursed himself for not paying more attention to the few lectures they had on healing charms in one of their classes. Then suddenly he thought he may have actually detected a pulse. Then his mind remembered a name: Ginny.
Draco quickly recalled that his mother had some potions stored away for use in special situations which occasionally crop up in the dungeons below the manor. Draco ran down to the dungeons and found the cabinet where the potions were stored. Surprisingly enough they were labeled, at least to some degree. Healing potions, blood replenishing potions, dreamless sleep potions, and some other more esoteric ones that he did not want to consider what their purpose could really be. He grabbed several potion flasks and ran back up stairs. He knelt next to the woman and started to gently pour the healing potion into the girls mouth. Initially he was hang no success, but then he tried sitting down on the floor, and holding her up, having her body leaning against him and he would add several drops of the potion at a time to her mouth. Draco had no idea if this would even work. He had managed to get nearly two-thirds of the portion into her when suddenly she started to spasm in his arms. She dint truly wake up, but she at least seemed to be able to swallow the small amounts of liquid he placed into her mouth. Draco recalled how the potions his mother had fed him as a child tasted so much better than any of the potions he had received at the infirmary at Hogwarts, and he hoped that the ones he was forcing upon Ginny tasted more like he remembered from his youth.
Suddenly she shook violently in his arms. Then she took a loud gasp and fell back against him. Draco feared that she had died until he realised that her breathing was now regular although it was shallow. Picking up a blood replenishing potion he began to give it to her a few drops at a time. By the time he had managed to get her to swallow the entire flask of the green and pungent liquid he noted that her colour was improving. He wondered how much more he should give her, and how much more her body could take. He looked down upon the face of the woman who he was now cradling in his arms and brushed some stray hairs out of her face that had come to lay there after her most recent bout of spasms. Absentmindedly he caressed her cheeks, but she was still near death as best as he could tell. One more healing potion, he decided. And again, drop by drop he placed it into her mouth. He started to wonder if the effect of the potion would be altered by delivering it slowly as opposed doing so all in one dose as he had experienced himself. He wondered if it would make any difference at all for it was clear that who ever had done this to her had attacked her viciously and must have just dumped her there presuming her to be dead. He could see evidence of cutting curses that had been used against her and healing spells that had been used to slow the loss of blood. He knew it wasn't Voldemort's style to be so cruel, for the Dark Lord preferred to show a display of his power by overwhelming his opponents quickly and soundly. No, whomever had attacked Ginny, his precious Ginny (Draco wondered where that thought had possibly come from) had attacked her in a sadistic fashion.
Draco shook his head to try and rid it of the sudden and foreign thoughts of compassion towards the girl, no woman, who lay in his arms. She probably hated him for the ways he had treated her and her brothers and her friends over the years. But something inside of him had changed when he learned that the Dark Lord intended to kill him. Something changed even further when he saw the frail vulnerability of this beautiful woman who was now clinging to life solely because he happened to show up when he did. He leaned forward and gently pressed his lips to hers after he placed the last drops of the healing potion into her mouth.
Narcissa Malfoy was not accustomed to being made to wait, nor being treated so poorly. But then again, her husband had been sent to Azkaban back in June, and he had been broken out of the prison just last month. She herself had not been seen in public since he was arrested that morning when Voldemort had been proven to be back with the altercations that occurred right here in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic. Narcissa would just have to wait patiently and hope that Director Bones would be willing to speak with her. She had been here for close to thirty minutes already when the door to the director's office opened. The tall woman with the monocle stood there and simply waved her in.
"You are taking a significant personal risk coming here," said Amelia as she closed the door behind her most unusual visitor on this day.
"I would consider it more that I am making a calculated play for safety for my son and myself," replied Narcissa cryptically as she walked in to the office and took a seat.
Amelia raised an eyebrow as she sat down behind her desk and looked at her childhood friend. While the Bones and Black families weren't in agreement on many political issues within the magical world, they were both old pure-blood families so they had many opportunities for social interaction. The two woman had remained friendly throughout school even though Amelia was several years ahead of Narcissa, but after they had graduated they had drifted apart and the first war with Voldemort and his followers had definitely seen a split in their relationship.
"What is it exactly that you want?" asked Amelia getting straight to the point.
"I need protection for myself and my son," said Narcissa.
"And what about your husband?"
"Lucius managed to anger the Dark Lord one too many times, and now he is dead."
Amelia detected a certain coldness in the reply. However, that could be easily understood considering the rumours of where the Dark Lord had been staying for the past few months. "And why should the ministry give you any sort of protection?"
Narcissa narrowed her eyes at the head of the DMLE who was clearly playing this hard. "First of all, I have done nothing illegal, I have never been marred as a Death Eater."
Amelia cut her off, "But you harboured a known escaped convict."
"What was I supposed to do about it? They were all there, I couldn't leave. I was in grave personal danger if I said or did anything," answered Narcissa defensively.
"But yet you find yourself here in my office today," observed Amelia. "Something has changed, obviously."
"Yes," sighed Narcissa. She cast a tempus spell and looked at the time. "I can tell you that shortly there will be a series of coordinated attacks…"
Hermione had arrived in Hogsmeade aside Alecto Carrow. The older Death Eater woman watched Hermione as she left with mixed feelings as she clearly had the right temperament to work for the Dark Lord but she still saw the teen as a mud blood. Hermione quickly made her way from the village up to the castle. She had her hair undone from the pony tail so that it was partially covering her face. She was hoping that she would not be recognised too quickly as she knew she needed to catch up to Harry and Ron to start her mission of interfering with their goal of destroying the horcruxes. Wondering where she could possibly find them she guessed that the best thing to do would be to start at the most likely place to find them so she was making her way towards Gryffindor Tower.
Outside of Hogsmeade
A series of pops indicating a large number of people had arrived by apparating could be heard in several places around Hogsmeade Village. Nearly two dozen Death Eaters had accompanied Voldemort for this stage of his plans. There was a clearing in the woods at the edge of the village where they all congregated as the Dark Lord had said they would learn the rest of their plan at that time.
Seeing that his troops had arrived he began to really the next stage. "We are about to begin the final stage of our magical coup. I am sire that many of you are wondering why we are about to attack now…" he stopped talking and looked pointedly at the Lestrange brothers and they quickly understood that he had used legilimency and read their thoughts on the matter… "it is because there has never been a more opportune time. My special lioness is on her way to deal with Potter's friends. Also, and more importantly, the almighty and all powerful Dumbledore, leader of the light and defeater of dark lords in days gone by has been weakened," boasted Voldemort. "In his foolishness and his arrogance the esteemed headmaster allowed himself to become afflicted by a curse. A curse of my own design. His arm and hand are withering. The curse is consuming his magic and consuming his life. Now is the time to strike, when he is weakened and unsuspecting."
Voldemort too a moment to scan his followers' thoughts again.
"The wards that protect the school and would keep us out should be about ready to fall thanks to the magical artefact I have obtained. One of my newer spies should have placed the magical ward disruptor and within the next hour we will be able to freely and easily walk onto the school grounds. And the issue of interference from the DMLE will be dealt with shortly."
Two groups arrived at the main business area for magical London. Twelve men, lead by Macnair and Yaxley made their way down the main area of Diagon Alley. They had their dark robes and their silver Death Eater masks securely in place as they started to cast hexes and curses at buildings and people in a seemingly random manner. Meanwhile a second group of nearly twenty men entered Knockturn Alley. They made their way to Borgin and Burkes. Fenrir Greyback snarled loudly as he walked in.
"Where is the vanishing cabinet?" he demanded.
Borgin was expecting the group, but he was obviously quite worried about the reaction he would get from the werewolf. He pointed to the cabinet that was against the wall to his left. Fenrir started to walk up to the cabinet and then he paused and turned to face the store's proprietor.
"What is wrong? You absolutely reek of fear!" he growled.
"The other cabinet, the one at your destination, I don't think it is working," stammered Borgin.
"You don't think?" questioned the large man.
"Anytime something has been sent through it has come out damaged," said the store owner, "and then since yesterday evening there have been no further attempts to send anything through."
"Maybe he fixed it all ready and he's just waiting for us," suggested one of the younger werewolves who had come with Greyback.
His comment was met with the back of Greyback's large right hand to his face. Greyback took a step towards Borgin in his anger over not being able to follow though with his part of Voldemort's plan. "I'll rip your throat out and then I'll hunt down that Malfoy brat and rip his out as well!"
Suddenly from behind the large werewolf heard the sound of spells being fired. One of the other werewolves who was there called out that the Aurors had arrived. Fenrir Greyback started to run out of the store to join in the fight and snarled over his shoulder to Borgin, "I still haven't forgotten about you!"
The battle at Knockturn Alley had begun.
Harry had met up with Ron and they were heading back to the dorms to try and meet up with the girls. As they were climbing the stairs they went to step aside as a student who they did not recognise was heading towards them.
"Harry! Ron!" squealed Hermione with excitement.
"Hermione?" asked Harry as he recognised her voice but the appearance of the woman in front of him. The tight purple leather bodice, the grey, loose and flowing skirt and her hair more manageable than he had ever seen it. Combined with the dark eye shadow and the dark red lipstick she looked much older and much prettier than he ever could imagine. Ron just stood there and ogled the Gryffindor bookworm.
Hermione smirked internally at the reactions she was generating with her new look. "Yes, it's me," she said imitating irritation with the two boys. "We decided to get a makeover when we were in the village," she added excitedly. She ran her hands from her head to her legs outlining her body for them. "You don't think this was too much, do you?" she asked. Before either one of them cold respond she continued, "So, guys, where have you been? What have you been up to today?"
Harry punched Ron in the shoulder to get him to stop staring at their friend, although part of him easily understood his reaction.
Then Harry stuttered as he tried to speak, "Um, so, uh, yeah, where is Ginny? Wasn't she with you?"
Hermione tilted her head to one side and flipped her hair back in a seductive way. "Ginny? Oh, I left her in bed. She's had a really long day already. We shouldn't disturb her."
Harry just nodded slightly to indicate he understood, sort of.
"So, again, what have you been up to?" asked Hermione.
Ron seemed to come out of the fog that Hermione's appearance had created around his brain, "Harry was just brilliant! He found another horcrux and we were about to go take care of it."
"Really? Sounds great!" cooed Hermione. "So, where are you going to do that?"
"We were going to head back to the Chamber of Secrets and take care of it there," answered Harry.
Draco Malfoy had been gently caressing the side of Ginny Weasley's face for the past fifteen minutes, wondering just how he could have ever ended up in such a position. His head was spinning trying to figure out what he should do next, but something inside of him kept telling him that where he was sitting was the place he should be.
He started to look around his room at the various items that were on his walls and on his book shelf. He came to the conclusion that there was nothing in the room that held any real meaning to him at this point. At least nothing other than the girl in his arms. He wondered if it was the fear of dying, or the knowledge that the most vile wizard in over a generation wanted you dead, or if it was the fact that he held another person's life in his hands as he was quite sure that Ginny would have died here in his room if he had not come along when he did. Draco never fancied himself as a hero, and he wasn't about to try and fool himself that he was one now. However he was now begging to understand that something he had always taken for granted, that something as simple as life was actually something very precious and something to hold dear.
As he was coming to accept these thoughts, which would have been so foreign to him before this, he noticed that Ginny's eyes started to open.
Pansy Parkinson and her group of would-be junior inquisitors were not happy that they had missed their chance on capturing Harry Potter previously when they had their best opportunity when Umbridge had managed to get into the school during the night. But the former teacher and Undersecretary had somehow been captured herself by the headmaster. But Pansy had told her small group not give up hope on getting Potter. She had gone to Hogsmeade during the morning and claimed to have met up with some others who were setting things in motion to bring about a dramatic change at the school and the rest of the magical world. They just needed to keep their eyes open and look for any opportunity that might present itself.
One of the Slytherins looked up and pointed ahead, "Isn't that Potter with Weasley and Granger?"
Pansy turned and saw the trio making their way down a stairway. "So it appears," she said with a smile. "Let's go get then!"
Malfoy Manor, Draco's Bedroom
Ginny's eyes blinked open and the world around came into focus. She felt her head throb and she realised every bone and muscle in her body ached something fierce. Then the sensations of someone holding her and caressing her registered in her mind. She looked up and saw grey eyes staring at her. Here eyes focused a little more and she noted that the face was framed with blonde hair.
Her mind felt dull and slow, but something clearly as wrong. She tried to process everything that had happened. Voldemort did something to Hermione and all of a sudden she had been acting more like Bellatrix Lestrange with a raging libido. She remembered Hermione betraying Harry and telling Voldemort what Harry was trying to do. Then she remembered Hermione attacking her, and then she had blacked out. And now she was slowly regaining consciousness in the arms of someone she thought she should recognise. 'Damn,' she thought, 'why did everything hurt so much and why was it so hard to even think.'
"Easy there," she heard a male voice speak to her. "I think everything is going to be okay."
She heard the words and the voice was somehow familiar. She blinked her eyes again as she felt the gentle caress on her cheek once more. She looked back at the face that was smily kindly at her. There was genuine concern in the eyes that were looking at her. She then felt a wave of fear wash over her as suddenly her brain seemed to kick into gear.
"Draco 'f-ing' Malfoy," she hissed.
The grey eyes shut tightly as she nearly spat the name.
"It'll be all right," he spoke gently, but Ginny wasn't sure if the words were truly comforting. "You're going to be okay, I think. You were in pretty bad shape when I found you."
She knew she was too weak to fight or even protest so she allowed herself to relax into his arms. "What's going on?" she asked in a whisper. "Where is everyone and why are you here?"
Draco sighed heavily. "What's going on is that you were nearly dead and I found you in time to be able to pour some healing potions into you. Where everyone else is, well the Dark Lord and his followers have gone to Hogwarts to attack the school. Some of them may have gone to make attacks at other places as a diversion, but everyone that was here is gone. Whoever did this to you is gone. As to why I am here, well that's the easiest one, it's my home. Or at least it was my home. I just stopped by on my way to escape. Once the Dark Lord is finished with Potter, he will either be coming for me or he will be sending one of his fanatical goons after me. That doesn't matter because either way, I need to leave. Most people would say I am as good as dead. I doubt I'd have the kind of luck your boyfriend Potter has. He seems to survive everything."
Ginny coughed slightly as she tried to speak, and the only word that Draco could understand was "not".
"Easy there," he said trying to comfort her, "what were you trying to say."
"He's not my boyfriend," she managed to weakly say as she tried to look around the room.
Draco noted her confusion. "We're in my bedroom," he explained. He noted the anger start to build in her eyes. "I found you here. Whomever did this to you just dumped you in here. I figure they presumed you were dead."
Ginny closed her eyes as she thought about those words. Whomever did this to her presumed she was dead and just dumped her on Draco Malfoy's bedroom floor.
"Hermione," she whispered.
"Hermione's not here," said Draco. "I already told you, I'm the only one here."
"No," said Ginny with a slight wheeze as breathing and talking both hurt incredibly, and Ginny figured she must have had several broken ribs. "Hermione did this to me," she said through pursed lips as she tried to deal with a spasm of pain in her chest.
Draco's face went blank as he tried to consider what the girl lying in his arms had just told him, but it made absolutely no sense. His mouth opened like a goldfish trying to breathe out of water. Ginny could tell he was shocked. Then she realised she needed to get away from this place, yet she knew she was in no condition to leave on her own, so she decided to try the only option she thought she had.
"The Burrow," she said as her eyes closed due to the pain she was in, "please, take me to the Burrow."
Draco had a blank look on his face. He was trying to figure out what she meant by taking her into some burrow in the ground. Ginny was able to see the confusion on his face.
"The Burrow is what we call our house," she whispered. "My home, you know, the place you make fun of on a regular basis. Can you take me to my home? To my parents?"
Ginny doubted that her pleading with this young man would do her any good. However, she thought she might faint from surprise and hope when she could have sworn she heard him say, "Okay, I'll take you home."