Harry Potter 24

Hour 20: 2 PM

Previously in Harry Potter 24:

Draco finds Ginny at Malfoy Manor, she is near death, lying on the floor in his bedroom..

Narcissa Malfoy meets with Amelia Bones at the DMLE headquarters…

The Death Eaters arrive at Hogsmeade, Hermione returns to Hogwarts…

Greyback and his pack of werewolves arrive at Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley, while a group of Death Eaters attack Diagon Alley…

Hermione arrives at Hogwarts:

"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?"

Ginny wakes up and finds she is being held by Draco Malfoy:

Malfoy tried explaining what was going on to her, "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.

"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."

The Twentieth Hour: 2 PM - 3 PM, Saturday, October 19, 1996

2:00 PM

Malfoy Manor

It was obvious that Ginny was still too weak to be able to walk, so Draco had to carry her in his arms down the stairs to the fireplace. He held then had to put her down as he picked up some floo powder and then looked at the red-head who was now holding on to him just to stand up. "So, are there any protections on your floo connection that would stop us from coming through?"

Ginny thought hard for a moment and then she realised that Dumbledore may have placed protections that only allowed members of the Order of the Phoenix to win access to their home. "I'm not sure," came her weak reply. "It's possible that the headmaster made some extra precautions to keep us safe."

Draco frowned at the thought. "It probably wouldn't matter then if I am with you," he said with concern, "such wards might let you through but they would still probably stop me. And we can't have you just falling out of the floo and onto the floor on your own. What if there's no one there to help you up?"

"I can manage," she said weakly as she looked around the room where she had been experienced so many horrors earlier this day. She closed her eyes so she wouldn't have to look at anything anymore.

"There is another way to get there," he suggested.

Ginny looked up into his eyes as she asked, "And just what would that be?"

"I could apparate us both there," he said with confidence.

"Right, like that would work. You're not even 17 yet, you haven't got your permit to apparate yet. So, unless you have anymore brilliant ideas…"

"I can apparate," he replied defensively. He noted the doubtful expression on her face. "Look, there are some perks of being around here. The ministry just assumes that anyone apparating in or out of Malfoy Manor is an adult, and the ministry has been persuaded to ignore the goings on here. And I have been practicing apparating all summer."

Ginny was still suspicious. "We'll probably get splinched," she protested. Draco ignored her protest as he lifted her up once again and carried her bridal style out of the house and through the garden. Ginny thought there was no way he would be able to carry her the entire way but she saw no visible sign of strain on is face. When they reached the far side of the garden, he asked her to describe as carefully as possible a location near her house. He held her tight as he concentrated on her words, and then there was a loud pop as they vanished from his family's home.

2:10 PM

Hogwarts halls

The 'Golden Trio' of Gryffindor was making their way down a hall heading towards Moaning Myrtle's bathroom on the second floor. As they were about to take a turn down another corridor, Harry noted Seamus Finnegan was up ahead.

"Finnegan!" yelled Harry as he moved closer to his house mate.

Seamus was startled by hearing someone shout his name, and he was sure he did not want to have to have a run in with the person whose voice he had just heard call out to him. He was trying to figure out how to avoid a confrontation with Potter when he heard Ron call out as well. "Bloody hell," he muttered as he turned around to face the two boys. Then he noticed a girl was with them, but he didn't recognise her at first. He sure did appreciate the curves on her though as she walked up behind the boys. But then it felt like he had been splashed with cold water across the face when he heard Hermione Granger ask "What are you up to Seamus?"

Seamus just stared at Hermione until Harry stood in front of her, stopping the Irish teen from continuing to ogle their classmate.

Harry then spoke to his roommate who had often made his dislike for Harry known in the past, particularly last year when everyone seemed to think Harry was a liar and was crazy. "Seamus, I've heard that you've been staring to hang out with the wrong sort lately."

"What are you on about?" questioned Seamus in reply, but there was clearly some nervousness in his voice as he spoke.

Before Harry could explain himself Ron yelled "Duck!" as he saw the red light of a stunner hex coming towards them.

The three friends dove to the ground while Seamus took the opportunity to run the other way. Harry, Ron and Hermione jumped up to see a group of Slytherin students, the same group that had cornered Harry with Umbridge, come charging towards them with their wands out. Harry immediately threw up a shield charm as he quickly realised that they were outnumbered. "Let's run! We're sitting ducks if we stay here," he called to the other two.

Ron and Hermione started to run away with Harry behind them. It became clear to them that the group must have had some sort of training as the spells were coming faster and stronger than they would have otherwise suspected. One of the students cast a bombarda curse that hit a wall and showered debris throughout the hall. As a result the three friends ended up getting separated and ran off in different directions.

Ron eventually ended up hiding in a classroom to get away. Harry had run down a hallway and hid in one of the boy's bathrooms on the first floor. Hermione felt foolish running away while her so called friends were being attacked but she also understood that none of the Slytherins would have any idea which side she was on at this time and she needed to wait for the opportune time to take out Harry and even Ron if necessary. She had managed to escape the group as they had seemed more focused on capturing Harry Potter than either of his friends. Hermione came to a stop near the transfiguration classroom as she cursed her luck. She had managed to meet up with Harry but now she had once again become separated from him. And with the latest altercation she was not sure where he had gone.

2:15 PM

The Burrow

Draco had managed to arrive outside of Ottery St. Catchpole in Devon, and both he and Ginny were still in one piece. He gently placed her on the grass in the clearing where they had landed as he looked around to get his bearings. He had never been to this part of England before but he couldn't help but admire the beauty of the gently rolling hills.

"So, which way do we go, and how far is it do you reckon?" asked Draco as he stood up to try and find where even a road might be.

Ginny looked around and indicated to a small hill only a couple of hundred yards away. "The Burrow is just over there," she said. She looked at the hill and the nearby road which Draco had just spied, and then she added, "Although I am not sure I have the strength to walk that far quite yet."

"Well, then we will either wait until you can, or I will just have to carry you again, Miss Weasley." Draco's face was set in a serious expression as he told her this.

Ginny rolled her eyes and let out a heavy sigh. This was not exactly how she ever wanted to show up at her home. She could just imagine how the scene could play out: 'Hi mom! Hi Dad! My former best friend became possessed by some dark amulet and tried to kill me, and then one of our family's oldest rivals or enemies shows up, finds me to be mostly dead, lying in his bedroom, saves me and then illegally apparates us here so he can carry me to my room. Oh, have you ever met Draco Malfoy? His dad is the one who tried to kill me when I was a first year.' No, that would definitely not go over well she decided.

"I think I can manage to try and walk," she said tentatively.

"As you wish," the blonde young man answered. Ginny noted that the former arrogance which tinged everything he said was quite clearly missing.

Draco then reached out and pulled her to stand. Ginny was surprised by how weak she still felt, however she thought she was getting stronger by the minute. "I may have to lean on you though," she said softly as she turned her face away to hide the growing blush.

Slowly the couple made their way down to the road and then onwards to the Burrow. Soon the silhouette of the oddly shaped house came into view. Draco wasn't sure what to think as they steadily got closer to the house that obviously was being held together by magical means and not by sound civil engineering principles.

They were still about 100 yards away from the house when Draco paused to look at the home more closely.

"Not what you expected, I'm sure," whispered Ginny.

"I'm not sure what I expected," replied Draco without taking his eyes off of the building. "It is definitely unique," he added, "definitely unique."

"It's nothing at all like Malfoy Manor, obviously, but it is warm and comfortable and it has been a marvellous place to grow up," she said with a tinge of pride.

Draco simply nodded as he then started to lead her towards the house. When they were still over fifty yards away the front door flew open accompanied by the sound of screams. Draco and Ginny froze in place as they observed a large woman come running towards them waving a wand.

"You unhand my daughter right now!" screamed Molly Weasley.

Draco wasn't sure whether to let go of Ginny and draw forth his wand, or if he should hide behind the still weak and injured teenager on his arm.

"Mom! Stop! It's not what you think!" yelled Ginny, who started to feel faint from putting so much energy just into trying to get her mother to calm down.

Molly Weasley came to an abrupt stop about ten feet away. She looked at her daughter who was clearly not well, and she looked at the young man whose family was effectively in a blood feud with the Weasleys. It was the first time she had ever seen young Draco actually look to be afraid.

"He is only trying to help, mom," pleaded Ginny. Draco gave an awkward smile as Mrs. Weasley turned to look at him again.

"She really needs to lie down, and probably sleep too," said Draco. "We need to get her inside, then we can explain."

It only took a minute for them to get Ginny situated on the couch in the main room in the house. Molly had made some soup for her daughter while Draco seemed to only be concerned with making sure Ginny was going to be okay. Molly could tell that Ginny had been severely hurt. Then she turned to Draco and asked him some questions. "It is apparent that you have been helping her," she said pointedly. "What have you given her so far?"

"She has had two healing potions and a blood replenishing potion," answered Draco. "Although she only took them by sips or drops at a time. I have no idea if that would affect how they work. I'm sure she needs something more than what little I have been able to do for her."

Molly looked at the young man who was being so attentive to her daughter, and then she went off to another room as she called back "I'll get something more for her…"

2:25 PM

Hogwarts Castle

Many students were arriving back after spending their day at Hogsmeade. Others were just hanging out, and some were playing Quidditch outside in a pick up game out on the pitch. There were even a few students who were holed away in the library getting extra study time in during the afternoon before planning to take the evening off for fin and relaxation.

Then suddenly there was a tremendous crash that echoed throughout the school. The very foundations of the castle shook. A broom closet on the 3rd floor lost its door due to forceful emanation of magic from the artefact that finally detonated. Some students fell to the floor due to the force of the magical blast. The professors and staff at the school stood still and some were even visibly afraid.

The magical wards that had been protecting Hogwarts had definitely fallen.

2:30 PM

Hogwarts, Main Entrance

Lord Voldemort had been standing just outside of the wards of Hogwarts and he easily felt the magical backlash as the once powerful wards protecting the school collapsed. Confidently he strode towards the school across the grounds. His followers who were with him were instructed to wait behind for ten minutes before they entered the school grounds and then they were to start their own invasion of the school.

As the Dark Lord waved a hand the large doors at the main entrance swung open allowing him to stride into the hall. He looked around and was actually slightly surprised that the area was devoid of students and staff. 'Perhaps they are all too scared and hiding away in their rooms,' he thought to himself.

Then he noticed one of the professors heading down the stairs towards him, and he stifled a laugh when he noticed it was the part goblin charms teacher. Voldemort was aware of the man's skill in duelling as he had won several prestigious international competitions in the past. Yet he doubted the professor would have enough power to truly pose any sort of threat.

Filius Flitwick drew his wand and called out to the Dark Lord, "You are not welcome here sir, I suggest that you leave immediately."

Voldemort felt he could admire the bravado, no matter how misplaced it was, and decided to not destroy him immediately.

"Thank you very much, but I do believe I know my way around," he called out to Professor Flitwick, his words conveying that he really paid no mind to what the professor had said.

Voldemort made a quick swish with his wand towards Flitwick and the half goblin immediately erected a shield. However, the shield spell gave no real protection against the power of the spell which the Dark Lord had cast. The diminutive professor found himself blasted towards the ceiling by the reducto curse, and then he ended up grabbing onto a chandelier so as not to fall to the ground. Voldemort did not even bother to look at what happened to his opponent but just marched onwards to his destination.

2:35 PM

Diagon Alley/Knockturn Alley

The store front to Borgin and Burkes was now the scene of what had quickly developed into a war zone. Shortly after Fenrir Greyback and his pack had arrived and discovered that they had no way to get to Hogwarts through the vanishing cabinet a group of Aurors had arrived. Borgin himself had been hiding behind his counter hopping that the damage to the items within his store would be minimal.

Out in the street, the battle between the Aurors and the Death Eaters and werewolves had finally ended. The additional presence of a team of hit wizards had helped turn the tide of the battle. The casualties on the side of the DMLE were minimal, Rufous Scrimgeour was overseeing the clean up of the mess while assessing the damage both to people and to property.

He had just written down some notes on the names of the victims who had been identified so far. He was not at all displeased to read the name of Fenrir Greyback as one of those who had died. He was finishing jotting down some short notes when he heard his supervisor calling to him.

Amelia Bones had arrived after making sure her informant about the attacks, which had just taken place was safe, and now she wanted to hear a quick report from the Head Auror. Rufous quickly ran down the basic information on how many were killed and how many were captured from those that attacked the two business districts. Then he listed the casualties from the Auror Department. "Williamson is the only one who didn't make it." He then pointed at the list of names that included known werewolves. "It was quite surprising that there was a pack of them here, a full week before the full moon. Things could have been a lot worse if they had waited until next week for this attack."

"Any other serious injures?" she asked Scrimgeour.

Alistor Moody limped up and joined the conversation. "Other than some splinters blasted off my wooden leg, I can't say that we had any other losses, ma'am," added the gnarled veteran with the disconcerting magical eye.

Amelia nodded in response but continued to speak with Scrimgeour. "There is also reportedly to be an attack at the school, at Hogwarts."

Scrimgeour sighed at that news. While he wondered where she was getting her information, considering what they found when they arrived here at the intersection of Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley he felt it was best not to question the veracity of her source.

"We have too much to do with this lot," he explained slowly, "whether it be cleaning up the mess or hauling the ones who are captured back to headquarters, I won't have anyone to spare to go to Hogwarts for a while yet. At least not a full force to take on another band like this one. By the way, how exactly did you know we needed to send a full detachment over here?" Rufous ultimately decided he would at least try one more time to learn how his boss knew this was about to occur.

"A new source of information, and we'll leave it at that," said the head of the DMLE curtly.

2:40 PM

Hogwarts Halls

Harry Potter slipped out of the bathroom where he had hidden. He was hoping to find whomever had ambushed him earlier which allowed Seamus to get away. He assumed it was the group of Slytherin students who had been patrolling the school in the early morning hours with Parkinson and the pink toad. As he was starting to wind his way back towards the stairs he heard some heavy footsteps. He slipped behind a tapestry and waited for the person to walk by. Once the sound of the footsteps had passed Harry removed himself from his hiding spot and noted that today just might be his lucky day as was now able to confront the person whom he feared would be nothing more than just another Peer Pettigrew, a Gryffindor student who betrayed the light in an attempt to gain personal power or perhaps some other baser motivation.

"Finnegan, hold it right there!" demanded Harry who had his wand trained on his roommate.

Seamus stopped and turned slowly, his right hand twitching as he tried to figure out to draw his wand. He had seen Harry duel in the DA last year, and he knew Harry was fast. He tried to tell himself that he had that extra training earlier this summer after he had hooked up with Parkinson, but Seamus wasn't fool enough to try and convince himself that he would be that good in a one on one duel with Potter, especially when Potter already had his wand in hand.

"What are you on about? Have you gone round the twist again?" he asked, trying to unnerve Harry. Seamus at least understood one thing. Potter would fight fair and he would not cast at him if he didn't have his wand in hand.

"You know very well what I'm talking about," snapped Harry. "That crash that occurred just a little bit ago. What do you know about that? And what did you have to do with it?"

Seamus noted that Harry's wand hand was faltering a little, aiming a little lower. He decided to make him talk a little longer as that might help distract him long enough to be able to draw his wand. Seamus had been holding his hands up to either side but he slowly let them fall to his sides as he stammered through an answer.

"You wouldn't understand, Harry," he began by pleading. "You have no idea what we've been going through, what my family has been going through."

"Try me," demanded Harry, while his wand arm dipped a little more.

"Well, it all started after school was out. There were new rumours and new stories. About you and the rest and what happened at the ministry. About you-know-who really being back," added Seamus.

"You're just rambling now," said Harry, who thought he saw doe movement in the shadows behind Seamus. "You were in the DA, you eventually told me that you believed me before I went to the Department of Mysteries and battled Voldemort that night."

Harry thought he saw more movement in the shadows but then he noticed a red curse coming from somewhere else in the hall. All he could do was dive to one side to be sure he wasn't hit. As he rolled to get to his feet he saw Seamus run off, hand in hand with Pansy Parkinson. He realised that she was the one who had been in the shadows but who had fired off that curse. By the time he had got back on his feet there was no sign of anyone down the hall where that curse had come from. "Bollocks," he muttered, Then he started to make his way back towards Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.

2:45 PM

Hogwarts, Near Headmaster's Office

Tom Riddle had arrived at the gargoyle statue that marked the entrance to the headmaster's office. He had been here plenty of times in the past. He was a prefect and then head boy after all. The gargoyle silently moved to one side and out stepped Albus Dumbledore.

"I'm surprised that you would dare to come here, Tom," commented the headmaster whose expression clearly was not one of surprise.

"I do not acknowledge that name any more," said Voldemort.

"But our past defines us," explained Albus, "you cannot hide from your past."

"This confrontation has little to do with either of our pasts," hissed the Dark Lord.

"Oh, but you are wrong there, Tom, it has everything to do with our past," smiled Dumbledore.

"No, it will just help define my future and put an end to yours," replied Voldemort, mimicking the headmaster's smile.

Before the headmaster could add another quip, the Dark Lord continued, "You cannot win and you know that. The castle is vulnerable. The wards have already come crashing down. I am sure you know that and the entire school felt it. You and your pitiful staff cannot hold back the tide as my followers will soon be taking over the school. And for you, headmaster, it ends here. You are no longer the threat which you once were. Oh yes, I know of the curse which afflicts you. I designed it myself as I am sure you are now all too aware," he added with a sickening chuckle.

Then with lightning fast speed he had drawn his wand and was casting curses at the bespectacled old man in front of him. Dumbledore had managed to raise protective shields and even batted away many of the curses that Voldemort was casting at him. The curses were starting to get more powerful but it was clear that Dumbledore's responses were getting slower. The Dark Lord could see that the blackness was spreading more quickly now, as Dumbledore was expending more power and using more magic to defend himself.

Then with an overpowered bombarda curse Voldemort sent the headmaster crashing into the wall. Albus Dumbledore, the defeater of Grindelwald, slumped into a barely conscious heap on the floor. Wearily he gazed up at the man who had finally bested him.

"You are old and you have become weak and slow," stated the triumphant Dark Lord. "In fact you have been quite disappointing today as an opponent." Then he stabbed his wand forward as he silently cast the expeliarmus spell and Dumbledore's wand flew out of his hand and was grabbed out of the air by the man who had just defeated him.

Voldemort examined the wand closely, running his delicate finger tips along the shaft, holding it gingerly. Then he looked back at Dumbledore. "Yes, I have taken the Elder Wand away from you. It is mine now, mine to control. And this wand, known as the death stick, shall be the death of you." Then with a sudden flash of motion the Dark Lord had waved the wand as he shouted avada kedavra, and a sickening green light issued force and slammed into the headmaster. The now lifeless body slowly fell to one side, eyes white and unfocused.

"All too easy when the plans are properly set in motion," whispered the Dark Lord to no one. Then he turned to leave. But instead of heading towards the Great Hall, he knew he had to check on something first based on what his special lioness had told him earlier.

2:55 PM

The Burrow

Molly Weasley had obtained some more potions. Healing potions, another blood replenishing potion and even a pepper-up potion. Draco Malfoy had been visibly surprised to see her return with so many different potions as he had assumed that there was no way that this family could have afforded to by so many expensive brews. Mrs. Weasley noted the expression on the young man's face and immediately began to explain. "I am not at all bad in the kitchen or in a potions lab. And with so many boys growing up, it became necessary to be prepared for dealing with the results of their various activities."

Draco had to admire the logic and the resourcefulness.

Molly had begun to give the healing potions to Ginny and then even the pepper-up potion. Not only did she want to help her daughter heal, but she wanted, or needed, her daughter to wake up enough to be able to finish explaining just what had happened. There were too many mysteries still surrounding the events of the day. How did her daughter get hurt? How did she get healed? How did she end up with this pureblood bigot who seemed to be doting on her every need?

Ginny started to stir and she finally seemed less pale and more alert then she had all day. She looked up at Draco who was sitting nearby, and she could see the obvious concern in his eyes.

"Apparently this young man saved your life today," said Molly softly as her daughter was becoming more aware of her surroundings. When she had sat herself down in a chair opposite from where Ginny was lying, Molly looked at the two young people and then she commanded, "Now start explaining, I want to know everything about what happened to you."

Ginny began to tell her story. How she and Hermione had gone to Hogsmeade, and then how they must have been imperiused to enter Madam Pudifoot's Tea Shop and then how they were kidnapped. She then went into further detail about being brought before He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Then she began to shudder and to cry. Draco stepped over to her and embraced her in a hug. Molly was shocked to see this young man offering such comfort to her daughter. Her motherly instincts were telling her to push the blonde out of the way but she could sense her daughter calming down in his arms, so she used an amazing amount of willpower to stay in her seat.

"What happened next?" she asked quietly, understanding that something horrible had happened. Molly could only begin to imagine what the Dark Lord would have done to her daughter, and to Hermione, to put her in such a state.

Ginny whimpered slightly and then she began to speak again, almost choking on the words as she told the rest of her story. She described the scene of Hermione becoming possessed by an amulet that had made Bellatrix Lestrange the evil and sadistic person she was, and then she sobbed as she told her mother of Hermione being the one to attack her.

Draco had tears in his eyes as he listened to the details. He then turned to face the Weasley matriarch as he completed the story for Ginny. "I understand you might feel you have no reason to believe anything I am about to say, but I am being completely honest with you. Earlier this morning I received a message from my mother, the Dark Lord has made it clear to his followers that I am to be killed today. I considered my options. The first thing I did was I took steps to make sure the mission I had been given to accomplish would absolutely fail. The second thing I did was I found Potter. I told Harry {Draco clearly had a hard time using Potter's first name} everything I knew about Voldemort's plans for today. Then I decided I needed to make my escape. I returned to my home, which is where the Death Eaters have been staying, using it as a base, but I knew that they would have left to start the next phase of their plans. Well, after I arrived I soon found that my father had been killed. After that I found that someone had left Ginny there to die. Actually I am quite sure that whoever did this to her thought she was already dead before they left. I can only assume that they are on their way to Hogwarts now to attack the school."

Molly was horrified at the tale she had just heard.

"We need to inform the headmaster!" she screamed.

"He probably already knows," commented Draco wryly. "I'm not sure that we could get a message to him anyway."

Molly was becoming quite agitated and was now pacing around the room. "I'll have to floo call your father," she said. "But he might not be in his office. And what are we going to do about Hermione? Has she really betrayed you? Betrayed us all?"

"It's not her, it's the amulet," said Draco plainly, "but that may be only a technicality."

"But if she has gone back to Hogwarts, then Harry and Ron need to know what happened!" exclaimed Molly.

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