Chapter 23 - Approve or Disapprove

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Harry couldn't help it, he glanced back at the castle.

"Are you suggesting the school is sentient?" Draco sounded incredulous.

"Wouldn't surprise me," was what Harry commented quietly.

He had long suspected that Hogwarts was a law unto itself.

"Not as we would understand sentience," Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling with delight, "but she has her own personality."

[You have to admit that's always been true,] Harry said.

[I know we always say 'well its Hogwarts', but I always thought that was Albus,] Draco replied.

[Guess not,] was Harry's response.

"So I should cast the ward here then?" Harry checked.

"If you would be so kind," the headmaster replied with a nod.

[Help,] Harry said and felt rather pathetic.

[Just do what you did upstairs down here,] Draco told him in a very rational and calm tone.

Harry only wished he felt as confident as Draco did. What he really wanted to know was would Hogwarts think he was an idiot if he got this wrong?

Lowering his mental barriers, the first thing he had to do was adjust to the magic around him. Draco's hand firmly planted at the base of his spine helped ground him, but it took his a few moments. He had felt his way around Hogwarts many times and he couldn't believe he had never noticed where the nexus was. Standing at it now, it was obvious.

It wasn't that everything sprung from the same point, but there was a charge in the air that made his cells quiver. Now he knew what he was looking at, he realised it felt like a foundation.

Next Harry shifted his perception so the lines of energy flared into his vision. How he hadn't seen them straight away was a mystery to him as well, all it took was the slightest push in his mind for them to be obvious.

The shield spell was easy and he cast it with virtually no effort over the nexus stone. He knew he couldn't smell ozone as the charm came into existence, but the phantom scent tickled his nose as his body reacted to the magic he had cast. The next part was a little tricky, however. Weaving one magic into another magical place was not as instinctive as the shield charms had become.

He started with a most obvious thread, winding it into the grass around the nexus. However, before he could move to the next, the whole shield flared and he brought his arm up automatically to shield his eyes, losing his hold on the spell.

"Oh," he said when he could see again.

The shield was still there and it was completely grounded, glowing gently as a concentrated ward should.

"What happened, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

"The shield," he said, "I was grounding it and it did it itself."

"A very good sign, My Boy," was the headmaster's assessment of that.

Harry could only take Dumbledore's word for that as he returned to his task. He viewed the magic of the shield like threads of cotton in a weave and what he had to do was ease the strands apart gently to form a much finer fabric. It took time, but it wasn't particularly taxing, especially since, when he urged the magic into motion, it tended to keep going unless he stopped it. The problem was, the finer the strands, the more delicate the structure.

In the end it was more of a gossamer sheet than anything like the shield it had been before.

All that remained after that was to coax the magic so that it refracted energy coming at it, rather than letting it through. He remembered Hermione going on about light and science more than once and he liked to think of the magic as a pool. What he needed to do was make it so the water diffused what hit its surface.

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