Harry Potter 24

Hour 6: 12 AM

The Sixth Hour, 12 AM to 1 AM, Saturday October 19, 1996

October 19, 1996

12:00 AM (midnight)

Knockturn Alley

A tall man with a red streak down one side of his face slipped into one of the establishments on Knockturn Alley. The man's blue-grey eyes reflected the dim candle light as he glared at the bells that jingled, announcing his entrance into the shop.

"Who the 'ell has shop bells in Knockturn Alley?" the man growled.

A voice answered back from the darkness of the next room, "Apparently we do here at Cobb & Webb's." The mysterious voice stepped out from behind the doorway and made his way past his midnight patron as he closed the blinds in the windows. He then turned to face the visitor, "Arneid Cobb at your service." He offered his right hand towards the man in front of him, but the visitor merely looked at it. Hastily putting his hand behind him, Cobb continued, "And you are?"

"Scabior is the only name you need to know, Cobb," came the gruff reply. He then wiped his hands on his dirty jacket, the green and silver ring on his left hand reflecting a little of the light from the lamp which the shopkeeper had just lit magically.

"And what can I do for you tonight, Mr. Scabior?" asked Cobb.

"A friend o' mine recommended that I come and see you," said Scabior as he quickly looked around the shop, getting a sense for his surroundings. "Lucius said that you would be able to 'elp me out with a slight problem I 'ave. It seems there are some wards I need to bring down, and 'e said that you would 'ave just the thing that I would need to do it."

Cobb shivered lightly at the thought of Lucius Malfoy. While he often dealt with dark objects, the item that Lord Malfoy had insisted that he arrange to be imported from South America was a tricky one. Objects that could be rigged to bring down magical wards were known to be temperamental and unstable. The precautions needed to ship it across the ocean were initially formidable as no magical smugglers wanted to take a chance with the thing, for if it somehow released its dark energy during their voyage, all magic wards on the ship would become useless. But Cobb had managed to arrange for the item to be transported on a muggle ship to North Africa. It was then smuggled through Europe and eventually into England by several curriers, and the expense of arranging this was by no means inconsequential. However, Cobb was not going to pass up the 1,000 galleon fee above and beyond the actual costs for procuring the item, which is the fee that Malfoy had offered right from the beginning. Arneid was a man who appreciated the opportunity to make a profit and he knew that he really did not want to know what would be done with the object. That was none of his concern.

So Cobb just nodded at Scabior, as that was enough information for him to know that he was the person that Lucius Malfoy had arranged to pick up the item. He went behind the counter and slid open a panel in the counter to where he had stored the magical ward breaker when he had received it just three days prior. He looked at the man in front of him and then asked, "Do you have the payment on hand?"

"You know that our friend Lucius already paid for it," Scabior snarled at the shop owner. "Or do you 'ave a desire to meet up with your old partner Webb sooner than you expected?"

Cobb shook his head no. "Just checking," he said in reply. "After all I can't be too careful with this item."

"You're right 'bout that mate, you can't," replied Scabior.

Cobb reached in and pulled out an object wrapped in several thick layers of canvas. "Your benefactor for this should be able to explain the details of how to arrange for it to perform its required function," he stated vaguely. He handed the package to Scabior who just stared at it blankly for a moment and then picked it up with one hand and slid it into a satchel on his side.

Scabior looked around the shop before he left and noted on one wall there were several scarves hanging. "My, aren't those pretty," he commented off handedly.

Cobb who was relieved to be rid of the mysterious item and was looking forward to this man leaving his shop spoke up, "Please feel free to help yourself, I keep them in stock, as many wizards find them to be simple gifts to give to their wives, or other lades who might catch their fancy."

Scabior grinned slightly as he took a closer look. He noticed one that was pink and pulled it off of the hook, and then tied it around his neck. He gave a slight grin to Cobb as he walked out the door, "I 'ope you 'ave a good night, mate," he growled as he left.

12:05 AM

Edge of the Forbidden forest

Pansy Parkinson and the group of four Slytherins with her made their way to the edge of the Forbidden Forest on the far side of the Black Lake. They had gathered on the edge of a slight clearing just inside the forest. The group had been waiting here for over an hour. One of the younger students in the group was fidgeting as they were waiting.

"You need to stay quiet," hissed Pansy. "We don't want anyone knowing that we are here!"

"But why did we have to come out so early?" asked the third year student.

"Because it was easier to sneak out before curfew started," answered Pansy quietly. "Now stop making noise."

Shortly after this the group heard some noises coming from inside the forest. Pansy noticed the concerned look on some of the other students' faces. "They're right on time," she muttered.

Into the clearing came a short woman followed by two men.

"Hem, hem," came the squeaky fake cough from the person in the middle. Even in the moonlight it was clear that the woman was wearing a pink outfit with small pink pillbox hat on her head. "Now children," she said with a smirk, "it's not right for you to be out so late at night. We should be getting you back into the castle before you catch cold."

"Hello, Professor Umbridge," was Pansy's saccharine greeting.

"Oh, dear, aren't you sweet, Miss Parkinson, but you know that I am not your professor, at least not at the moment," she added. "It's so nice to be greeted properly, and you have the chosen students to help us with our task tonight. How wonderful," she added as she clasped her hands in front of her.

She then turned to the two men who came with her, "Now, Styles and Dodge, you two wait her for us. If any of those beastly creatures come by, you have full authority from the Minister himself to dispose of them in any way that you feel is necessary. And I do mean in any way at all."

She then turned back to the Slytherins. "It is such a shame that Dumbledore doesn't see the need to have more secure wards around the Forbidden Forest. Once I am back as the Headmistress, I will be seeing to an upgrade in all of the wards so people couldn't just walk right on to the school grounds."

The former High Inquisitor for Hogwarts had returned to the school she had previously been able to run, even if it was only for a short time, and she returned in a way that no one would ever suspect, by coming through the Forbidden Forest. She tried to force her horrible memories of her last encounter from out of her mind, but she was sure the only way she could really erase those memories was to burn the damned forest to the ground once she was Headmistress again. She knew the board of governors would never agree to it, so she already had her explanation to the board written out to hand to them after the deed would be done. No need to have a place harbouring evil and nasty creatures so close to the poor and innocent children studying at Hogwarts. But her thoughts which drifted over how happy should would be once she had taken over and started to correct things again were interrupted by the students.

"Shouldn't we get on our way to the school, Miss Umbridge?" asked Pansy.

"Quite right dear, quite right," she answered. Then she looked at the whole group as she declared, "So this is the beginning of reinstating the Inquisitorial Squad. I will be sure to appoint each one of you as head of your own division of student inquisitors as a reward for your faithfulness to the cause."

Then she looked at Pansy, "And you, Miss Parker, will be the head Junior Inquisitor once we deal with that lying brat Potter once and for all. Now, we should make haste, and return to the castle and begin our mission of saving this school!"

12:15 AM

Seventh Floor Hallway

Harry had not gone back to Gryffindor Tower despite the admonition from the headmaster. He still had not found Hermione but now he realised he was near the Room of Requirement. He knew he needed to find a horcrux somewhere in the school, so he hoped he might be able to find one here. He paced back in forth in front of the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy three times and a door appeared. Harry walked in and found the room to be filled with piles of junk. He started looking around, hoping that he might find something that could possibly be a horcrux. He knew that it would probably be valuable, as Riddle had tired to obtain items that were valuable to him or to the founders, or at least that was what Dumbledore had hypothesised.

He was making his way around the piles and rows of items, old desks, stacks of books, an old sofa with a pile of empty sherry bottles nearby, but he had not found anything that he thought might be a horcrux. He wondered if the Marauders' Map might be useful, so he pulled it out of his back pocket. As he did so, he realised he should have used it earlier to help in his search for Hermione. He admonished himself for not being smarter and remembering this important parchment sooner. As he tapped the map and spoke the words "I solemnly swear that I am up t no good," the lines on the map began to appear. Every time this happened he was still amazed to watch the castle map be drawn on to the parchment. He knew where he was, but his own name did not appear on the map, so he quickly surmised that the map could not register anyone who was in the Room of Requirement. He quickly concluded that it would be of no help to him in finding a horcrux in this room. He then started to scan to see if Hermione was easily found, and he noticed footsteps approaching the corridor outside. Draco Malfoy was the name following the footsteps on the map.

"Bloody hell," muttered Harry. He quickly decided he needed to find a place to hide in case Malfoy came into the Room of Requirement. Harry moved behind the sofa and sherry bottles, being careful not to knock any of them over.

12:25 AM

Slytherin Dormitory, Common Room

Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis slipped into the Slytherin common room, hoping to get back to the dorms without being caught by teachers or prefects. Tracey was about to say, "It looks like we made it" when she turned around and realised she was standing face to face with her head of house. Daphne had also slid into the common room keeping an eye on the hallway behind them and she bumped into Tracey. She spun around to find out why Tracey was just standing there and she too was startled as she came face to face with the former potions professor.

"I'm sure you ladies have had a busy night of studying." He just stared at them silently as the pair of sixth year witches tried to figure out what to say. "Good night Miss Greengrass, Miss Davis." Then without another word or even waiting for a reply, he left through the door into the hallway they had just exited.

12:30 AM

Gryffindor Common Room

Neville and Ron had been waiting in the common room for Harry and Hermione to return. Neville indicated that he was getting tired and was having a hard time staying awake.

"I'll wait up for them mate," said Ron, "why don't you just head off to bed."

Neville yawned and then started to head up the stairs to their room. When he walked into the room he noticed that his only house mate who was there was Dean Thomas, who was snoring lightly. Neville knew Ron was downstairs waiting for Harry to return, but he wondered where Seamus was. In fact, he recalled that he hadn't seen him all evening.

12:45 AM

Malfoy Manor

Tom Riddle stood in front of the dais where his throne was placed in the former ballroom at Malfoy Manor. He called Yaxley into the room with him.

"Show me your arm, Yaxley," commanded the snake like man.

Yaxley walked forward and pulled his left sleeve back to reveal the Dark Mark, the writhing tattoo on the inside of his forearm of a snake and a skull. Voldemort placed the tip of his wand on the middle of the skull. The magic in the Dark Mark sent out a call to all of the Dark Lord's marked followers. Even though the act of using the magical tattoo to send a message in such a way was quite painful to the one on whose arm the summons came from, Yaxley did not flinch, for he was proud to bear the pain in service to his master.

As he pulled his wand off of his follower's arm, Voldemort smiled at him. "Once everyone arrives I will begin to reveal the plans that have been set in motion. Our victory will be swift and sure. With Potter and Dumbledore out of the way, and all of Hogwarts under my control, the ministry will fall without hardly lifting a finger and my glorious reign over England shall begin."

Yaxley half expected a maniacal laugh to erupt from his master's mouth, but instead he spoke a simple command. "Now depart from me until the rest arrive and then I will share my unstoppable plans with all of you!"

12:50 AM

Gryffindor Common Room

Ron was starting to get anxious. Neither Harry nor Hermione had made it back to the common room. It wasn't like either one of them to be this late. Sure, they would get into adventures and Harry always seemed to attract trouble no matter what. But the more Ron thought about Harry and trouble, the more he felt he needed to do something.

"I hope I'm not making a mistake about this," he said to no one as he pushed open the portrait hole and stepped out into the corridor and started to head down the stairs.

12:55 AM

Malfoy Manor

Dozens of Death Eaters had arrived at Malfoy Manor. By 12:50 AM they had started to congregate in the halls and other rooms. At 12:55 AM the Dark Lord opened the doors to let his followers into his throne room.

"It is so good of you all to come tonight," he announced loudly to the crowds that came into the room. "For tonight we will see the advent of a new order in our world."

The Death Eaters cheered their leader's words.

Voldemort silently cast a spell to amplify his voice over the sounds of his followers.

"Plans have been set in motion. This war to claim our world by the rightful rulers will end before it truly even begins. The ministry is unprepared to take me on. Our main opposition is found at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And shortly, the esteemed headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, will meet defeat at my hands. But more importantly, I tell you that the death of Harry Potter shall happen within the next twenty-four hours. He will be destroyed, and with him the hopes of all of those who dare to oppose us!"

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