Hour 9: 3 AM
Previously in Harry Potter 24:
Kreacher's eyes widened even more. "Bad blood-traitor master would do that for miserable Kreacher?" asked the stunned house elf.
"Of course I would," answered Harry. "That is the whole reason why I called you to bring me here, because I was hoping to find an object of the Dark Lord, the former master of your master. The dark snake, as you called him, he is the one who is responsible for Regulus' death. He is the reason why there are so few members of the Black family left. The dark snake man attacked my family too, and I need to stop him, once and for all. But I cannot do that if I don't get that item and destroy it."
"Master Harry will destroy the item?" he asked again.
"Yes, I promise I will," claimed Harry.
Luna Lovegood sat up quickly and looked in the mirror. "No nargles, no wrackspurts, and definitely no blibbering humdingers,"she said to herself.
She stood there in silence and then she gasped as she realised, "Oh my, I need to go warn Harry Potter!"
The Ninth Hour, 3 AM to 4 AM, Saturday, October 19, 1996
Gryffindor Common Room
Ginny, Ron and Hermione arrived back in the Gryffindor Common Room. They were all panting for breath after they had narrowly escaped being found by Umbridge.
"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Ron. "Why is that toad back here at Hogwarts?"
"I didn't think the undersecretary to the Minister would have any reason to come to the school in the middle of the night," commented Ginny.
"She's no longer Fudge's Undersecretary," pointed out Hermione, "she was fired in disgrace after the whole battle at the Department of Ministries which proved that Harry wasn't lying and that You-Know-Who has returned."
"Just as long as she doesn't catch up with Harry," said Ron.
The two girls just stared at him for a moment. Ron started to feel uneasy and wiped his hands on his face, "What? Have I got something left from dinner on my face?" he asked.
Hermione's silent glare and Ginny's eyes darting over towards the stairs to the boys dorms made him realise what they were implying. "Maybe he's already back in his room," suggested Ron timidly.
"Don't you think you better check?" demanded his sister.
Ron jumped up and moved fairly quickly considering it was 3 o'clock in the morning. Less than a minute later Ron returned to the common room to an anxiously waiting Ginny and Hermione.
"Umbridge is after him, I'm sure of it," stated Hermione.
"Harry could be in big trouble then," commented Ron.
"But doesn't he have the map? The Marauders Map?" questioned Ginny.
Ron scratched his head before he answered. "He usually keeps it with him, I think," he said.
"We still need to try and find him," said Hermione, the exasperation evident in her voice, "you know how much trouble he can get into."
Once again, the three students opened the portrait hole to head back out into the post curfew darkness of the halls of Hogwarts.
Hallway on the 3rd Floor
Luna had made her way down to the third floor corridor, heading towards the stairway that would take her towards the second floor girls bathroom that was also the sanctuary for the ghost Moaning Myrtle. She heard some footsteps ahead of her and she hoped it would be Harry Potter coming the other she was so concerned for him because of the vision she had in her dream she started to run towards the sound of the footsteps. As she made her way around a corner she realised that she was hearing more than one set of footsteps coming towards her. She skidded to a stop when she came face to face with several students wearing silver and green lined robes, with a woman in a pink dress standing behind them.
"If it isn't one of Harry Potter's little accomplices," came the screeching voice of Dolores Umbridge.
Luna immediately recognised the voice and face of the former High Inquisitor and she squeaked in surprise "Snorkack Poop!"
Pansy Parkinson stepped closer to her with her want pointed at her face, "Where's Potter," she demanded.
Luna looked into the eyes of all of the students and then calmly answered, "I have no idea where Harry Potter is, but I would presume that he would be in his bed in is dorm, dreaming of umgubular slashkilters dancing with dabberblimps. Why? Do you need his help with something? He is quite a powerful wizard, you know."
Pansy just turned to look at their leader, and she could tell that Umbridge was incensed.
"What are we to do with her?" asked Parkinson.
"We can't have her running around the castle at night now can we," answered Umbridge with a wicked smile. She then turned to Luna and her voice became sweeter than honey as she spoke to her, "We can't have you getting into to trouble out her at night all by yourself, we need to make sure you stay safe and out of trouble."
She then turned to face Pansy, "You might as well stun her and then we'll put her somewhere 'safe' and out of the way."
Without needing any further encouragement three of the five students immediately fired stunning spells at the silver eyed blonde Ravenclaw student who collapsed on the floor.
"Now, we really should make sure she is safe, might as well find a safe place somewhere near here," said Umbridge with mock concern.
"There's a broom closet over here," said one of the fourth year Slytherins.
"How convenient," commented Umbridge, "but do be careful when you place her in there, so as not to hurt the poor dear."
Pansy ordered her four companions to pick up the unconscious girl and carry her over to the broom closet. "You probably ought to lock the door just to make sure she stays there, I mean that she stays safe," commented the former Undersecretary.
Pansy then cast a quick locking charm on the door and the group made their way down the hall, still searching for Harry Potter or any other students who might be roaming the halls.
Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom
Harry was deposited back in the bathroom where Kreacher had found him about one hour previous. Harry was at least grateful that the sometimes devious elf had not returned him to land in one of the toilets. Harry decided that he should probably head back up to the Room of Requirement and try and search their again, figuring that it was much more likely to not have any students there at this time.
He made his way up to the third floor and started to head towards the stairway that would bring him to the 7th floor hallway and the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy. Harry noted that he was passing several suits of armour that were lining the walls. Then he felt a tug from the Slytherin Locket and he stumbled into one of the suits of plate armour and it all came crashing down around him.
"Bloody hell," he muttered as he quickly tried to pick up the pieces of armour and place them back together.
3rd Floor hallway
Umbridge and her crew of the newly appointed Inquisitorial Squad heard the clanging of the metal that came from behind where they were and they all quickly turned around to investigate who might be causing the disturbance.
Harry didn't hear the footsteps of the approaching group as he was concentrating on putting the armour back together. When he finally registered that there were footsteps approaching he quickly stood up and drew his wand and took a defensive pose.
Suddenly he realised that he was surrounded by Pansy Parkinson and the group of Slytherins who he had seen leave with her earlier that night. But to his dread he noted the woman in pink who was cackling with glee behind the students.
"It seems that you have finally been caught, Mr. Potter," scolded the toad of a woman who had tortured him for countless nights in detention the previous year.
"I was helping some friends and we were studying in a classroom and I fell asleep and I was just heading back to my dorm when I stumbled into the suit of armour," Harry tried to explain quickly. "Go ahead and tell the headmaster and I'll even serve my detention with Filch tonight," he added, hoping to get away from Umbridge as he didn't want anyone to find the locket that he had with him.
"You're a trouble maker and a liar, Mr. Potter," stated Umbridge, "and Professor Dumbledore won't be able to save you this time. I'll be bringing you right to the Minister himself, and we will deal with you once and for all. And your precious headmaster will finally be removed. Anyone who allows such a miscreant as yourself to roam this castle so freely clearly should not be running such a prestigious institution for magical education."
"Even Fudge saw that Voldemort is back," protested Harry. "And you know I never lied about the Dark Lord's return."
"But you're a troublemaker and a murderer," snapped back Umbridge. "Just because He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was seen at the ministry last year does not exonerate you for killing the true Hogwart's champion at the end of the tournament last year. Somehow you keep getting away with everything, you and your blood traitor friends. But not this time, Potter, because you're mine!"
Harry noted that he had five separate wands pointing at him, and he wondered just what he could possibly do to get out of this mess that he found himself in.
Hermione, Ron and Ginny had heard the commotion that began with the crashing of a suit of armour. As they were making their way to the stairs to see if it could possibly be Harry, they overheard Umbridge's shrill voice telling Harry that he was "a trouble maker…"
Ginny exclaimed "That bitch is back!"
Hermione was about to reprimand her friend for her language but then she thought better of it. She was about to say something about trying to save Harry when a certain mischievous poltergeist came down the hall and started to sing about catching several students out after curfew in the middle of the night.
Hermione had a quick idea. "Peeves," she called out to the ghost, "we need your help!"
The poltergeist was taken aback, for it was quite rare for anyone to ever ask him for help.
"Why do you need Peeves?" asked the poltergeist, feeling wary of such a comment from a student.
"The toad teacher is back!" declared Hermione. Peeves cast a suspicious eye at her.
"Dolores Umbridge, the very person who tried to get you removed from the castle last year is down stairs, on the third floor attacking a student, Harry Potter," she declared.
Peeves remembered the woman all too well, and he never liked her. She had made it quite clear when she became the headmistress briefly that she was planning to find a way to remove him from the castle.
Ron understood what Hermione was trying to do. "We need you to help our friend, Harry Potter. If you help us right now, we'll get you a supply of dung bombs to use whenever you want!"
"Yeah," agreed Hermione, "we'll get you a whole supply of pranks you can use!"
"Help get Umbridge? Of course!" replied the ghost. "For being able to spook Umbridge I would do it for nothing, but I'll still take the dung bombs! This should be ore fun than I have had in a while!"
3rd Floor Hallway
Umbridge was absolutely ecstatic that she had finally managed to capture Harry Potter, the spoiled brat of a wizard who she was sure was nothing more than a lying no good cheat. She was about to tell her Inquisitorial Squad to bind him when all of a sudden she was covered with a giant splash of green sticky gelatine. Peeves figured the house elves in the kitchen could come up with something else for tomorrow night's dessert.
The trio of students from Gryffindor had managed to make it down the stairs and started sending tripping hexes at the Slytherin students as they were running away from the mess that had splattered over their leader. Screams came from all around the hallway as they tripped and fell into the puddles of gelatine as Peeves continued to throw it at the group that attacked Potter.
Harry had been trying to figure out a way to get away from Umbridge. As the gelatine and the curses started flying he quickly pulled out his invisibility cloak. He initially planned to run, but with the mess of bodies and sticky green substance everywhere, he came up with what he thought to be a brilliant idea. He stayed still pressed himself up against the wall in between two of the suits of armour.
In the midst of the confusion with hexes being cast back and forth between the Gryffindor trio and the Slytherins who were finally getting back on their feet, Ginny noticed that Harry was gone. "He's gone," she called out to Ron and Hermione, "so we better get going too."
The three sent a few stinging hexes at the group covered with the green goo and then ran back up the stairs where they had come from.
Draco Malfoy was at the far end of the hall on his way back to the Slytherin dorms when he overheard the commotion He was initially excited to see Potter being captured by Umbridge, and now he was sure he knew what Pansy had been up to recently. He even saw the attack from Peeves and he noticed that somehow Potter once again managed to escape. Regardless of the outcome of the brief battle he was at least glad that he would be able to make back to his room without anyone catching him.
Ron, Hermione and Ginny had run off on the fourth floor away from the Gryffindor tower. Actually, Ron had run in the opposite direction and the girls just followed his lead.
"What the hell, Ron," called out Ginny. "You're heading the wrong way!"
"I know what I'm doing," said Ron as he pulled up to a stop.
"And just what is that, Ronald?" asked an irritated Hermione.
"Umbridge and the Slytherins expect us to head back to the dorm. This way they will go off in the wrong direction and we won't get caught by them," explained Ron.
"Since you're so smart, what do we do now?" asked an equally frustrated Ginny.
Ron looked around and took note of the classrooms near where they were standing. "It seems there always old unused classrooms every where we go, might as well hide out in one of these," he suggested.
Hermione looked at the classroom they were next to and then back at Ron. "Not a bad idea, Ronald," she said appraisingly.
Draco slipped into the Slytherin dorms and pulled off his robes. As he walked towards his bed room he laughed slightly to himself, thinking just how close Potter came to being caught by someone from the ministry. He knew that Umbridge was not supposed to be here, but he figured the distractions she was causing could only help him. At least the diversion of the brief battle in the hallway helped him get back to his dorm without anyone seeing him. But then he considered that if anyone had seen him, he new that his head of house would make sure he didn't get into any real trouble, because after all he had been doing that for the previous five years.
"Inquisitorial Squad, heh," he thought to himself, "I've got more important things than that to do." Draco made his way into his room, finished getting undressed and pulled his curtains around his bed closed and hoped that no one would disturb him as he figured he could use a good lie in.
Gryffindor Common Room
Harry Potter was out of breath as he finally made it through the portrait hole and into the common room. A quick glance around the room and it was clear that it was deserted. Harry had assumed it would be, considering it was nearly 4 o'clock in the morning. Slowly he plodded up the stairs to his dorm and collapsed onto his bed. He was sound asleep within a minute of his head hitting his pillow.