Chapter 23 - Approve or Disapprove

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It was midnight, it was cold, but Harry was so nervous he was barely aware of the temperature. Drizzle all day had put pay to any summer warmth and made it a miserable night, but at least it almost guaranteed there would be no one else outside.

They had spent an hour earlier in the Room of Requirement with Dumbledore as they demonstrated how they could set and cancel their small ward. It had taken five times before the headmaster was satisfied and then all Dumbledore had done was nod and tell them to meet him in the entrance hall when everyone else was asleep.

Now they were following him though the unpleasant Scottish night around the side of the castle and into the grounds. So far the headmaster had done no more than say good evening.

[Where are we going?] Harry asked.

[The nexus point, I suspect,] Draco said.

[What's that?]

[Halfbloods,] Draco complained at that question. [The nexus point of any magical building is where its protections are set. Usually it's somewhere inside, a stone in the foundation or something, but since the wards here protect the whole grounds it must be somewhere outside.]

[And he couldn't just tell us this because?]

[Probably so there was no danger of eavesdroppers,] Draco replied. [The nexus is always a secret. It's not exactly a vulnerable point, but it could be used as a weakness.]

[Oh. I suppose that makes sense. Wish it was inside though.]

[Likewise.]

Dumbledore led them to a spot that was apparently nowhere in particular. There was nothing to mark the spot, no real landmarks and about the only thing Harry could say about it was that it couldn't be seen from any of the windows of the main building.

"Welcome, Gentlemen, to the Hogwarts nexus," the headmaster said and pointed to a small stone in the ground.

The light from Dumbledore's wand was just enough so that when Harry peered at the stone he could read one word: 'Rufus'. The stone looked like a grave marker.

"Who was Rufus?" he asked.

"Rowena Ravenclaw's cat," Dumbledore replied. "Where he truly lies is unknown, but the founders decided to use a false grave stone to mark the nexus point. The wards were originally designed by Salazar Slytherin, but have been added to many times over the years."

"Have they ever fallen?" Draco asked.

"Never."

Harry's stomach twisted at that revelation. He could only imagine the number of things that could go wrong with what they were about to try and do.

"Do not worry, Harry," the headmaster said as if reading his mind, "what we do here tonight cannot damage what is already there."

"But I don't know enough about wards," he replied. "What if I do something wrong?"

He was surprised when Dumbledore simply smiled.

"I will let you into a secret, My Dear Boys," the headmaster said; "there is not a wizard or witch alive who understands the protections on this school completely. The headmaster or headmistress is given the ability to disable part or all of the wards as his or her discretion, however, even our greatest wards experts could not begin to explain how they truly work."

"Then how are we going to add the new ward?" Harry asked.

It sounded like it was impossible.

"New wards are cast on the nexus," Dumbledore explained "and those the school approves of are automatically combined into its protections. Those it does not approve of simply cease."

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