Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

Voldemort puts a spy into Hogwarts.
Set during the year of the Half-blood Prince.

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27. The Apparition Test

 The Apparition Test

The week finally arrived when David and Susan were due to take their apparition test. On Monday morning at the breakfast table, they talked about their fear of failing. The test was going to take place that afternoon, after the Care of Magical Creatures lesson.
The day passed quickly, as far as David was concerned and he and Susan headed for their last lesson with butterflies starting to squirm in their stomachs.
Those butterflies were turned to churning fear, as the group of students arrived outside of Hagrid’s hut, to find the body of an enormous black spider lying dead on his front lawn.
The thing was hideous to see and nobody had the nerve to go near it, to take a closer look. It lay there curled up and upside-down, a frightening sight. David then remembered that he had seen this spider before, when he had followed Hagrid into the forest.
He stood with the others, trembling slightly and they all jumped as Hagrid opened his door suddenly and stumbled down the steps towards them.
He was visibly upset and kept wiping his eyes with a huge dirty handkerchief. He looked over at the spider and a fresh wave of sobbing began. It took a little while for Hagrid to compose himself, but eventually he managed to gain some sort of control.
His voice was cracked and quavering, as he greeted the students and pointed over at the body.
“Thought yer’d like to see an acromantula.”
The students gasped in awe.
“He died last night and I’m going to bury him tonight, so this is probably the only chance you’ll ever get to see one.” Hagrid sniffed.
He then went on to describe the life cycle of the beast and how he had brought him up himself, from egg to giant monster.
Everyone stood there with their mouth open in disbelief and eyes wide. It was obvious that Hagrid was a complete expert on these spiders and although he was weak and wavery, he answered each and every question that the students began to throw at him.
David felt really sorry for Hagrid, who he could tell was in a state of shock and was talking automatically. When it all became too much for him, Hagrid dismissed the class, but not before he gave a small piece of parchment to one of the girls and asked her to take it to Harry Potter.
David’s ears perked up, but he couldn’t follow her, as he and Susan had to go straight to the apparition test after the lesson. Before they left, however, he went over to Hagrid and offered his condolences to him.
Hagrid smiled weakly and patted David on the shoulder, causing him to buckle at the knees.
“Thanks, David. That means a lot to me.”
David and Susan then hurried off towards the path leading to the castle and the Great Hall, where they would take their apparition test.
The Hall had been divided into two areas using a huge black velvet curtain. On the first side a set of chairs were lined up and here the students were to wait their turn to apparate. The second area was hidden from view, but David guessed that there would be a similar seating arrangement.
The Ministry Official who was to be their Examiner was chatting busily to Madam Pomfrey, while several other Professors moved around the group of students and ticked their names off a sheet of paper. There were forty or so students, including all of the seventh-year and those from the sixth-year who were old enough to take the test.
The test was simple enough. When all the students were accounted for, the Examiner clapped his hands and a sudden silence descended.
“Welcome everybody and good luck to you all. I know that you have all been practicing very hard and you are all very nervous, but have no fear. The test comprises only of three apparitions through the curtain that you see before us.”
Everybody’s eyes glanced at the dark and forbidding screen. It suddenly seemed like an impenetrable brick wall, both high and wide.
“I would like you each in turn, to apparate from the hoop on the floor.” The wispy old man said and indicated the hoop lying on the floor at his side.
“Into a similar hoop on the other side. If you are successful, you will then be allowed to apparate back to this side and into your vacated chair.”
Everybody laughed nervously and looked at each other, making a note of which person was sat on either side of them.
“If you are again successful, then you will apparate back through the curtain and into the wardrobe on the other side.”
He flicked his wand at the curtain and it lifted up to show a solid wooden wardrobe standing there. Another flick of the wand caused the curtain to fall back down.
David gulped and took hold of Susan’s hand and gave it a squeeze. The tasks had been given and all there was for it was to give it a go. He felt nervous, but also had confidence that he could do it.
“Right. Are we ready to begin?” He asked and he nodded at Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey, who went around the side of the curtain to wait for the apparators.
David didn’t have long to wait. The students were called out in alphabetical order and David Bertillon was second in the list.
The first student to be called was a tall and mature-looking boy named Bobby Appledore. When his name was called, he strolled over to the hoop and stood stiffly waiting for the Examiner to say ‘go’.
“When you are ready, you can make your first apparition.” Said the man and he gave Bobby a friendly smile.
With an almighty ‘crack’, the boy disappeared and instantly a similar ‘crack’ was heard behind the curtain.
“Pass!” Came the cry of Professor McGonagall from out of sight.
Then without any waiting, the sound of the boy disapparating and then re-appearing amongst them was heard.
The other students clapped loudly and his friends cheered and called his name, as he sat and grinned happily at them.
“Pass.” Said the Examiner.
“Last apparition, please.”
Bobby waved at the others and as he did so, he disappeared noisily and there was a muffled ‘crack’ in the distance. This was followed by the rattling of a door handle, then the voice of Professor McGonagall calling.
“Pass!”
Everybody cheered and the curtain ruffled, as Bobby tried to find the opening through to the other side. Eventually, his head popped around the gap between the curtain and wall and he walked sheepishly to the Examiner, who shook his hand and wrote something on his clipboard.
“Next student, David Bertillon.”
David turned to Susan and she gave him a quick hug and told him.
“I know you can do it. Good luck!”
David swallowed hard and stood up. It seemed to take an age to walk the short distance to the hoop, but once he was there time almost stood still.
He looked around at the Examiner and the curtain, at the faces of the other students and finally into the eyes of Susan. A sudden sense of pride and something else, something that warmed him from the inside, surged through his body.
“In you own time.” Said the little old man.
David closed his eyes and thought about the hoop on the other side. He thought about what he would be able to do if he passed the test. He could go anywhere he liked. Back to the mansion? Maybe taking Susan with him?
He turned and moved through non-space. In an instant, he opened his eyes and was standing in front of the smiling face of Professor McGonagall. He never heard the cracking sounds that his own apparition had made.
“Good afternoon, David.” She said to him.
“All your organs still in their right place? No pains or unusual sensations about you body?” She asked.
“No and no, Professor.” He replied and looked over her shoulder at the wardrobe, trying to memorise its size and colour.
Madam Pomfrey looked him over and then called out.
“Pass!”
“Alright then. Off you go, young man.”
It wasn’t difficult for David to concentrate on his seat beside Susan. The image of her face filled his mind and he turned swiftly on the spot.
Once again, he was seated at her side and she looked at him in awe and admiration. She clapped and cheered as loud as anyone else in the room.
David looked around happily and gave a quick thumbs-up to the others. He didn’t even wait for the Examiner to finish saying.
“Next, the wardr…”
David thought with all his might about the wardrobe on the other side. He could see its wooden doors and imagined being stood inside it. He turned and disappeared.
With a thrill of horror, David took a sharp breath. Everything had turned black. ‘What’s happened?’ He thought to himself.
Then he realised his foolishness. A crack of light that widened and then turned into full daylight filled his eyes. He was inside the wardrobe and its doors were being opened by Professor McGonagall.
He stepped out timidly, as she took his hand and shook it vigorously.
“Pass!” She called out.
“Well done, David. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon.”
In a slight daze, he made his way around the curtain and back to the others. They were all clapping him and he felt on top of the world.
Susan grabbed him around the neck as he sat down and gave him a huge kiss. Then she jumped up and headed over to the Examiner herself.
David was still in a bit of a daze, as Susan went through the three tasks with an ease that took him by surprise. She had passed the apparition exam too!
Even though they could have left the Great Hall, they stopped to watch and clap as each of the other students took the test. They applauded every time that someone made a successful apparition and groaned when anybody failed, for whatever reason.
The whole experience was something that David could never forget. For the only time that he had known, students from each of the school houses were cheering on the others.
The majority of them passed easily, but there were a few failures. Nobody was actually splinched during the test, but one or two had hands on the wrong way round, or lost an eyebrow or two.
The Examiner was very strict about losing, or changing any body parts. David had a feeling of guilty pleasure when Harry Potter’s friend, Ron Weasley, returned to his seat with a part of his eyebrow missing.
Proceedings were held up while Professor McGonagall searched the floor for the item in question, then re-attached it to Ron’s face. She gave him a look of pity and a pat on the back for his troubles.
When it was over, there were congratulations and commiseration all round. David and Susan happily strolled back to the Hufflepuff common room and sat on a sofa near to the fire, telling and re-telling the story of the test to the other students.
They had a fine dinner that night. David chose a thick steak and fat crispy chips. He felt slightly drained after the efforts of the apparition test and the excitement surrounding it. He dipped his chips into a small pot of gravy and chatted with Susan about where they could go by apparition, when they had finally left school.
Meanwhile, he kept a beady eye on Harry Potter, over at the Gryffindor table. He was talking with his two friends, as usual. On the Slytherin table, Draco Malfoy was staring down at his plate and not eating anything. He really didn’t look at all well.
David also noticed that Dumbledore’s seat was empty at the staff table. ‘Maybe he eats in the privacy of his own room?’ He thought to himself.
Biggins had noticed that David was looking up at the staff table and he leaned over to David and said.
“Dumbledore’s seat is empty more often than it is occupied nowadays. I reckon that he’s visiting the Ministry to help in the search for he-who-must-not-be-named.” His voice lowered into a whisper at the end.
“Does he leave the castle, then?” Asked David.
“Oh, sure.” Biggins replied.
“Everybody knows that. He’s been seen flying off on his broomstick by a few people now and again.”
“Which way does he go?” Asked David, in anticipation.
“Off towards Hogsmeade.” Said Biggins.
David rolled his eyes in disappointment.
“Yeah, but just because he’s flying off that way, it doesn’t mean that he can’t change direction later. He might even be leaving his broomstick somewhere and then apparating to another destination.” Biggins winked conspiratorially.
“How far can a wizard apparate?” Asked David.
“Well, it depends on the wizard. How powerful he is. It’s not possible to apparate over large stretches of water, though. You have to use a broomstick for that. That’s why Azkaban was built out at sea, so that it’s difficult to get to and from.”
David raised his eyebrows. He’d never heard that before. It was pretty interesting, but it put paid to his plans to apparate to Fiji with Susan.
“You could always use a port key, if you had to go abroad. Their use is controlled by the Ministry, so they know who is going where. Very few people have the authority to use them, or create them. I guess that Dumbledore could do it, since he is Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards.”
David thought about what Biggins had told him. It didn’t answer any questions, but only made David see that Dumbledore had the means to go wherever he pleased when he got outside of the Hogwarts castle’s protection.
Later on, when David had kissed Susan goodnight and gone back to his room, he noticed that the small parcel given to him by Pinky was still on the table. He had forgotten about it, because of his thinking about the apparition test.
He picked it up and shook it. It rattled softly. He carefully undid the string around the wrapper and then took it off. Inside was a cardboard box with a label saying ‘Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes presents: The Extendable Ear.”
The rest of the blurb on the box told the owner that he had purchased the ‘Finest in Stealth and Sneakery’. It was also the best way to ‘Keep your Ear to the Ground.’
Inside the box was a pink ear-shaped object, with a spaghetti-like extension. It was basically, a listening device.
David tried sticking the end of the ‘string’ in his ear and dropped the ‘ear’ onto the floor. It immediately wriggled along the floor and up to the bottom of the door. A sudden loud conversation came into David’s ear from the string.
It was Biggins, outside in the corridor. He was chatting to Dawkins about the next round of quidditch matches. Hufflepuff were now top of the table and leading by over three hundred points from Gryffindor. It would take a miracle for any other house to overtake them now.
This was amazing. David listened excitedly, not particularly interested in the conversation as such, but keen to put the extendable ear to further use in his quest to find out what Dumbledore and Potter were both up to. Maybe he could listen in at the door of the hidden room when Malfoy was inside?
Lots of ideas went through David’s imagination and he went to bed completely satisfied that it had been a good day for him.

 

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