…the violent attack culminated in Ministry Aurors fighting off the twenty Death Eaters inside Diagon Alley whilst the Dark Mark hovered in the sky. The work is believed to have been uncoordinated destruction for the sake of destruction with no real purpose behind it. Although the Ministry were unable to question any of the Death Eaters connected with the attack, the Prophet… Harry stopped reading and set the paper down on the table. He was not the only one to have been reading it, however.
“Ministry Aurors fighting off the Death Eaters?!” Mad Eye demanded at the other end of the table as he shook his paper at Minerva who merely shot him a cool glare. “I cannot believe we don’t even get credit for stopping them…”
“Why couldn’t they question the Death Eaters?” Harry asked them and several people glanced back towards their copy of the paper to check whether or not it was true.
“Ministry’s probably been infiltrated…” Mad Eye muttered darkly. “So either they’ve had their memories wiped or they were Portkey-ed out of there by someone in the Aurors division.”
“Or perhaps they had other Death Eaters around just in case such a thing happened,” Minerva suggested. She was not going along with Mad Eye’s suggestion that every large business and building in the country had been infiltrated by Voldemort yet.
“So is it true that you three aren’t going back to school?” Tonks asked offhandedly as she glanced towards Harry who nodded. The day before Molly had discovered this and it had been the cause of a terrific argument, which she went on to lose when Minerva explained the situation to her.
“The fact is that all three of them are in danger at Hogwarts. They’ve made themselves targets in the past and Voldemort will do anything to get to them.” Minerva repeated to Tonks what she had said to Molly the day before. “They’re safer in Grimmauld Place under the Fidelius Charm being tutored by members of the Order in their spare time.” She glanced around her at the gathered members of the Order, hoping that some of them would volunteer their services as tutors.
“I’ll teach Defence Against the Dark Arts!” Tonks said before Mad Eye could open his mouth.
“I believe Remus has already taken that position,” Minerva smiled at her for her enthusiasm.
“Well we can teach it together, can’t we?” Tonks grinned at him and Remus felt like sinking under the table in despair.
“I really don’t think it’s necessary for two teachers on one subject, Tonks,” Minerva said calmly and Remus looked immensely relieved. Harry was trying not to laugh as he stared down determinedly into his cereal. Remus glared at him across the table but Harry didn’t see it. “Remus managed to teach classes of thirty for one year, I’m sure he can manage three students for another.”
“Then I’ll teach… Charms!” Tonks suggested and no one contradicted her.
“Didn’t you fail Charms?” asked Kingsley lightly as he took another slice of toast. Tonks narrowed her eyes at him and elbowed him as she reached over for some more toast, although she did not intend to eat it. She was more likely to throw it at Kingsley’s stupid bald head if he started to undermine her skill in front of various members of the Order again.
“No, I failed Care of Magical Creatures and Astronomy,” Tonks snapped at him, holding her toast like she would a throwing knife. Kingsley must have noticed the way her eyes were fixed on his head and the way her hand was clenched around the edge of a piece of toast because he let the subject drop and volunteered himself for Potions tuition.
“I shall teach Transfiguration in my spare time, of course,” Minerva smiled ever so slightly and they nodded. Harry supposed it was a good thing that they were getting an old Transfiguration teacher for that particular subject but he would rather have had someone a little less… strict. He supposed it was for the best however since Fleur looked slightly put out by this and it was clear she had been wishing to teach them that subject.
“I can teach you some pretty advanced Herbology… enough to get you through your NEWT at Outstanding at any rate,” Charlie offered, “and some basic duelling as well, if you want.”
“Oh no you don’t. If anyone’s teaching duelling here, it’s me.” Mad Eye glared at him and Harry wondered just how cursed he was likely to get in a duelling session with Mad Eye. He glanced at McGonagall to see that she was trying not to smile. Very cursed, he decided.
And so Harry, Ron and Hermione had their teachers for the next year. Sadly they were not given until September before they had to resume lessons and that afternoon Harry and Ron were at the bottom of the garden honing their Apparition skills with Mad Eye.
“If you can’t Apparate then you’re already dead. You’ll not have a single lesson until you can Apparate into that house with all your limbs and back,” Mad Eye barked at them. They knew that Hermione would be watching smugly from the window and Harry made a point of aiming to land on her if he could.
The afternoon was a long one for Harry and Ron. Hermione spent her time indoors with Ginny, mostly laughing at the failed attempts of Harry and Ron at Apparition. It wasn’t that they couldn’t Apparate, it was the fact that Mad Eye was so very intimidating and that he kept telling them to Apparate to the most ridiculous places.
Harry eventually Apparated home from somewhere in the Alps to prove to Mad Eye that he had in fact been into the Artic Circle, the snow on his shoes as the supposed evidence of this. There was no way in hell he was going to Apparate to the North Pole and then freeze to death there. He would much rather get lost in a skiing resort than one of the most desolate places in the world. Besides, he had still gone a long way and he had still covered himself in snow when he fell over upon impact.
Mad Eye stared at him with a mixture of amusement and irritation on his face as he ran both eyes over Harry’s snowy form.
“So, where did you go to?” he asked Harry nonchalantly. Harry instantly felt uneasy since he had been directed to the Artic Circle. His teacher surely wouldn’t have asked unless he was aware that he was about to catch Harry out on a lie, would he?
“The North Pole,” Harry lied, doing his utmost to keep all expression from touching his face. He wasn’t doing very well.
“Liar. Either you’re terrible at Apparition or you went somewhere else,” Mad Eye said calmly. “Everyone knows you can’t Apparate into the Artic Circle at all after those Death Eaters made a hole in the ozone layer.”
‘Damn,’ Harry thought. He had known that; it was one of many things he remembered copying from Hermione’s History of Magic notebook before their OWL exam at the end of their fifth year. “I went to the Alps,” he eventually told Mad Eye who, to his surprise, smiled slightly.
“Mildly impressive work,” he told Harry who tensed his jaw to prevent it dropping at the unexpected and unlikely to be repeated praise. “Now you Apparate back to the house and I’ll go find Weasley.”
It was only then that Harry realised Ron was nowhere to be seen. The snow was beginning to thaw out and he felt increasingly cold and wet as time wore on. Gladly, he Apparated back up to the house.
“Harry!” Hermione yelled as Harry landed on top of her.
“Oops, sorry Hermione,” he grinned. “I guess I’ve not got the hang of the whole Apparition thing yet.”
“Git,” she muttered. “Why the hell are you so wet and… is that snow?!”
“It might be,” Harry replied lightly as he moved as if to leave the room.
“Where the hell did you go?” Hermione demanded of him. She had never been able to Apparate further than Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley, which was quite far to be fair, and yet there was Harry, covered in snow. There was no snow anywhere in Britain at that time of year, except maybe some of the mountains in Scotland but still…
“The Alps… now if you’ll excuse me…” Harry tried to get past her again but she stared at him and remained in between him and the door. “Oh yes and your darling boyfriend is lost somewhere after trying to Apparate into the North Pole.”
“WHAT?!” Molly barked as she entered the room. Hermione looked shocked but at the same time she wasn’t that surprised Ron had got lost. Probably splinched himself somewhere, she reasoned.
“Oh dear god, he’ll never find his way back,” Hermione groaned and then looked up at Harry sharply. “Ron isn’t my boyfriend.”
“He’s not…? You seem like you’re dating to me,” Harry said as he continued to drip on the kitchen floor.
“All right, maybe we are but still… how did you know?” Hermione asked. “I mean, no offence Harry but you’re one of the most oblivious people I’ve ever met unless Voldemort’s involved somewhere.”
“Thanks Hermione, really,” Harry deadpanned as he moved towards the door again and this time he wasn’t stopped. He noticed Molly staring out of the window, looking for Ron and Mad Eye, and decided it was probably best if he got out of there. Just in case Ron Apparated back onto him or something.
“Mr Potter.” Harry stared up to see that he had very nearly walked into Minerva McGonagall. It was probably as well that he hadn’t. “If you could be in my office with Weasley and Granger at eight tonight, please.”
She didn’t ask him to do so; she just presumed that they would be there. Rightly so as well; there was no way that they just weren’t going to turn up for the meeting, especially when he was aware that it was probably on the subject of Voldemort and the Horcruxes.
Sure enough, at eight that evening Harry, Ron and Hermione stepped through the fireplace in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place and fell over each other as they emerged in Minerva’s office. She was already sat there and quickly conjured a small table for them all to sit around when Remus, Mad Eye, Bill and Kingsley stepped through the fireplace in quick succession.
Minerva motioned for everyone to take a seat before she sat at the head of the table. Harry glanced at Remus and smiled slightly before Minerva began to speak. “Now that you are all aware of the circumstances we are in involving Voldemort and the Horcruxes,” she said and Harry presumed she had told the others that afternoon, “then I believe it is time that we did something about it.”
“I presume that all the Horcruxes will have a very high magical frequency?” Bill asked and Minerva nodded.
“No one’s told me what that means yet,” Harry said suddenly, realising that since he had spoken with Minerva in her office a few days ago, no one had brought the matter back up again.
“You don’t know what magical frequency is?” Kingsley asked curiously but at the cool look which Harry gave him he decided to explain. “All things have a certain amount of magic in them, even the air you breathe. Although some things have more magic, such as a broom or a magical creature. You can measure the amount of magic something has in it using a counter. It’s just called a Frequency Counter.”
“So it’s like a Muggle Geiger counter but with magic instead of radiation?” Harry asked and most of the room looked nonplussed.
“Yes, it’s exactly like that,” Hermione nodded. If she had known he was aware of such things she could have told him much quicker.
“So wouldn’t wands and wizards have a higher magical frequency than a small piece of Voldemort’s soul?” Harry asked them and for a moment he wondered if the idea was going to lead to a dead end but Remus shook his head.
“Not at all,” he said. “Wands and wizards have a very low magical frequency. Wands are just used to channel magic; there’s very little magic in them and wizards take in magic from their surroundings and then expel it later so there’s no magic inside you usually.”
“So if there was no magic in the air then I wouldn’t be able to cast any spells?” Harry asked and noticed that as he did so Mad Eye looked rather exasperated by his ignorance of the world in which he lived.
“Theoretically, yes,” Remus said, “but all air has magic in it and the only place without magic would be a vacuum or space.”
“Wasn’t there talk about sending a wizard into space a while ago?” Kingsley asked and Minerva nodded.
“It’ll never happen though,” she countered. “The Ministry don’t want to waste their money just to find out simple facts like whether magic works in space.”
“All right then, but if there’s magic everywhere then why do Muggle things break at Hogwarts?” Harry asked and that appeared to be the final straw for Mad Eye.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake, Potter!” he snapped. “We’re not here to talk about such mindless things. We’re here to discuss how to get to Voldemort and the Horcruxes whilst maintaining our lives!”
“That’s very true, Alastor,” Minerva said calmly, “but unless everyone understands what we’re talking about then there’s no point in discussing anything, is there?”
Silence greeted her words and Mad Eye appeared to be in a very bad mood, something which made Kingsley grin at Harry. “To answer your question,” Remus said, picking up the previous conversation, “Muggle things break at Hogwarts because there’s so much magic concentrated in one building so your magic is likely to be stronger here than anywhere else. It’s the same at the Ministry and in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley; they’re the most magical places in Britain.”
“Any more questions, Potter?” Mad Eye snarled and he found that he was trying not to smile despite the fact that Mad Eye could be so very intimidating at times. A look around the table confirmed that most other people were in a similar condition.
“Just one more,” Harry said quickly and at that Kingsley burst out laughing, which quickly became a hacking cough. Mad Eye did not appear impressed. “Why do Horcruxes have a high magical frequency if they’re only small pieces of a soul, when they’re not particularly magical anyway?”
“Because of the sheer magic taken to create it,” Kingsley answered simply, trying to redeem himself in Mad Eye’s alarming eyes. “You need to break the soul, kill the magical sacrifice and then there are the spells to do it. It even harnesses some of the energy from Avada Kedavra used on the sacrifice, I believe, so over all I can’t think of many things with a higher magical frequency than them.”
“Is it difficult to get hold of a Frequency Counter?” Hermione asked the group. There was a moment of silence until Bill spoke up and it was clear he had been waiting for someone else to answer the question but apparently no one could.
“There are only two I know of,” Bill said to them and Minerva already felt that they were going to have trouble obtaining one, especially for their desired use. “There’s one in Gringotts but that’s heavily guarded and there’s no way we could steal or borrow it.”
“And the other?”
“What? You mean to say that one of our partner schools has one of these Frequency Counters and I was not aware of it?” Minerva demanded of no one in particular.
“You never asked,” Dumbledore said from the wall, his eyes twinkling rather more manically than they had done in life and Harry thought it was an amusing caricature. He wondered whether Phineas had really been as mean as his portrait or Dilys as motherly as hers.
“So how are we going to get it? Who’s the new headmaster there?” Minerva asked the group, hoping that at least one of them would know.
“I don’t know about the headmaster but I know that Viktor Krum is the deputy head,” Mad Eye said. Harry shot a covert glance at Hermione who blushed slightly and kept her eyes away from the amused look on Harry’s face and the scowl on Ron’s. Remus looked between the three of them, wondering exactly what wasn’t being said but knew better than to ask.
“Krum’s only about twenty, isn’t he?” Kingsley asked and Ron nodded.
“Twenty one later this year – there’s supposed to be a big party for him in the Bulgarian Quidditch team,” Ron said feeling glad to be of some assistance.
“Clearly he’s using his fame to get him higher up in life,” Mad Eye said coolly, in a tone which said that he didn’t approve in the slightest. For a moment Minerva thought he was going to start lecturing Harry on a similar topic but thankfully he kept quiet.
“Well, since we don’t know who the current headmaster is then we can’t ask for it,” Minerva said and turned to Harry and Hermione. “Perhaps one of you two could contact Mr Krum and enquire as to the name of their current headmaster and perhaps a little information on him, or her.”
Hermione nodded. “Of course, Professor.”
“Once we’ve found out whether or not we can borrow it then we’ll have to fly over and get it, I presume,” Minerva said.
“Fly?” Ron asked in disbelief. “The school’s in Bulgaria!”
“No it isn’t,” Hermione said suddenly and Ron stared at her.
“But Krum played for the Bulgarian team and went to Durmstrang! Of course it’s in Bulgaria!” Ron argued further.
“Bulgaria’s warm,” Harry pointed out, “and the Durmstrang students all wore furs.”
“To settle this debate once and for all, Durmstrang is on the Finland-Sweden border,” Remus told them calmly. “I have no idea why Mr Krum played for Bulgaria but I’m sure you can ask him at some point.”
“That’s still miles away and you’re flying!”
“I am fully aware of that fact, Mr Weasley,” Minerva said dryly, “but the school is impossible to enter except from the air. It makes things very inconvenient for visitors.”
“The entire way is lit up, isn’t it?” Remus asked, having never been to the school himself that had not stopped him acquiring a certain amount of information on it.
“Like a Christmas tree,” Mad Eye growled. “If it wasn’t for all the charms surrounding the place the Muggles would have been in there in an instant.”
“So that’s this meeting over then,” Minerva said and everyone stared at her.
“That’s it? We’ve spent the last half an hour or so enlightening Potter and contemplating getting a Frequency Counter and that’s it?!” Mad Eye said, sounding rather aghast.
“Of course. What else is there to be said?” Minerva asked him calmly. “We can do very little without a Frequency Counter and either Mr Potter or Miss Granger’s contacting Krum would be the fastest way to gain one. There is nothing more we can discuss for the present.”
Mad Eye didn’t look too pleased by this but everyone else seemed happy to be out of there. Besides, Minerva always conjured uncomfortable chairs.
“We’ll get on that letter tonight, Professor,” Hermione said as she rose to her feet. The rest of the room soon followed and various ‘good night’s were said before everyone left via the Floo system.
“Where on earth have you been?!” Molly demanded of Ron as he stepped into the kitchen. She didn’t look pleased with any of those in the kitchen right then but she was most angry towards Harry, Ron and Hermione. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going out?”
Harry heard a stifled laugh from one of the adults behind him as Mad Eye, Minerva, Remus, Bill and Kingsley moved to escape but Molly cut them off.
“Oh no you don’t!” she snapped at them and they backed away. “You’re as bad as they are! Disappearing with the three of them with no explanation! What do you think you’re doing?!”
Everyone sank down into chairs around the table, realising that they could be there for quite some time until one of them came up with a reasonable alibi for their disappearance.
A/N: After an email request, I'm offering an email to anyone who wants one when I update this story. Just email me or leave me your email in a review and I'll make sure you're added to the list :o)
Oh, and I know this chapter was a bit top-heavy with the information on magic but I felt a little explanation now might help. According to the Lexicon Durmstrang is located in the North of Europe somewhere, which is why I've now changed it so that it's not in Bulgaria.
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