Summer classes be damned, Harry and Draco had abandoned everything else and gone straight to the library. They spent all morning frantically searching for anything to do with Harry's revelation. It seemed so obvious that someone had to have investigated it before. There had to be a way to protect Hogwarts.
"What on earth are you two doing?"
Hermione's voice made Harry look up from the huge tome he was trying to read and barely making head or tail of. The language was definitely not modern English.
"What does it look like," Draco said, without taking his nose out of the book he had; "trying to find some information."
"Well, tell me what you're looking for and I can help," Hermione said and Harry was reminded again of what a good friend she was.
[Do we dare?] he asked.
[Not out loud,] Draco replied. [someone might overhear.]
[I could write it down,] Harry suggested.
[Even worse. Just write down that we can't tell her yet and I'll make something up for possible eavesdroppers.]
"It's to do with Harry's problem with Apparating," Draco said out loud as Harry scrabbled for a quill. "He had a very bad reaction this morning and so we came to see if we could find anything that might help."
Harry could feel Hermione's eyes on him as he wrote, but she didn't ask what he was doing.
"Do you think there is some way Hecatemae have shielded themselves in the past that we've lost?" Hermione asked. "I would have thought that was something the department would have kept on record."
"You'd think so, wouldn't you," Draco replied, "but Hilde says they don't have anything. It may be that it's because Harry hasn't been brought up to know how to shield from a young age, so he's susceptible, but we had hoped there might be something we had missed before."
Harry held up his message.
'I discovered something,' it read. 'Can't explain now, too dangerous. Have to keep it a secret from everyone, sorry.'
"Have you tried the Restricted Section yet?" Hermione asked, taking the parchment from Harry and borrowing his quill.
'Find any useful information?' she wrote.
'No.' Harry wrote back.
"Not yet," Draco continued the verbal conversation.
'You should speak to Dumbledore,' Hermione jotted down. 'His office is secure and if it's that dangerous he needs to know.'
"Maybe you could try later," she said.
[She has a point,] Draco agreed as he read the note.
"Good idea," Harry said, screwing up the note and putting it in his pocket; he would burn it once they were out of the Library.
"Right now, though," Hermione said, "you really should come to lunch unless you want the whole school talking about you."
The last thing they needed was more attention.
"Good point," Draco said. "We'll just get these books to a safe place and we'll be out."
"Thanks, Hermione," Harry said and she nodded at him.
* * *
"Gentlemen," Dumbledore greeted as Harry all but dragged Draco into the headmaster's study, "to what do I owe this pleasure?"
Harry knew he was being a little irrational, but the fact that Hogwarts was wide open for an attack was rather playing on his mind. It was all he had been able to think about over lunch; the ideas just going round and round in his head.
The fact that Death Eaters could pop through the wards at their own convenience if Voldemort even suspected what he had found out was not an easy burden to bear, and he was very worried. Closing the door and activating the silencing spells around the room which Dumbledore used when he did not wish to be overheard, Harry walked right up to the headmaster's desk with Draco close behind.
The look of slight surprise on Dumbledore's face reminded him that it was possibly impolite to activate someone else's wards when most people weren't even supposed to realise they were there, but Harry felt he was justified in his caution.
"Sorry," he apologised never-the-less, "but this could be disastrous."
"Please, sit down," Dumbledore offered politely, "and tell me everything."
Two chairs appeared out of thin air as the headmaster waved his arm and Draco dragged Harry into one and then sat in the other even though Harry would have preferred to stand. Their search in the library had proved one thing; no one else seemed to have come up with this idea or have written anything down about it, but Harry was still very agitated about the whole thing.
"Harry had a revelation this morning," he was very glad as Draco started the explanation as he tried to gather his thoughts. "It makes us feel somewhat less secure about the safety of Hogwarts."
Dumbledore sat forward in his chair, placed both arms on the table and brought his fingers together into a point in a very thoughtful gesture.
"Please," he said in a concerned, sober manner, "go on."
"It is possible to Apparate through the wards," Harry said anxiously; "well not exactly Apparate, but as good as. Draco's already done it so we know it's not just a theory."
He took a deep breath trying to stop the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that the situation caused in him as he explained it. His home was threatened and he didn't like that at all.
"I was watching the Apparating class," he continued more calmly, "and I've always said there has to be a better way of going about it. Well I was thinking about it and I thought that if you didn't have to blast the hole to travel through it would take much less magic and be less destructive. So I tried to figure out some other way of connecting two places and then I saw them; the connections; they're everywhere and all you have to do is touch them and you can use them like pipes."
Draco's hand tightened on his and he was glad of the comfort. There was no protection against people travelling this way; no one had ever thought how to set up wards against it.
"And how does one find these strands?" Dumbledore asked reasonably.
"They're just there," Harry replied honestly. "They aren't even magical, they're just energy."
The headmaster smiled at him kindly, which made Harry think either Dumbledore had missed the point or the man didn't understand the gravity of what he was saying.
"If they are so obvious, then why, my dear boy," Dumbledore said warmly, "has no one else ever seen fit to mention them before?"
That rather brought Harry up short as the headmaster's words threw up a whole new angle, which in their panic neither he nor Draco had considered.
"But they're there," he said earnestly; "Draco used one from outside the Transfiguration classroom. He was outside the Apparating bubble, so was I, the wards were fully active."
Dumbledore smiled again and stood up, slowly coming around the desk.
"Harry," the headmaster said warmly, "you and through you Draco, have a unique view of the world. I would hazard the reason that no one has seen fit to make use of these," Dumbledore paused, "connections," the headmaster continued after a moment's thought, "is that none but you are aware they exist and, hence, none but you may employ their usefulness."
Harry honestly hadn't thought of that.
[Do you think?] he asked Draco.
[I don't know, none of the books had anything,] Draco replied.
"But they're right there," Harry said, unable to just believe what the headmaster had said.
"And so was gravity, but it took Sir Isaac Newton to explain how it worked," Dumbledore said. "I believe it was Einstein who said 'Imagination is more important than knowledge' and I believe this may be a case in point. Unless I am very much mistaken, these connections you speak of are not a phenomenon which has been investigated in our world."
First of all Harry had to get his head round one of the finest wizards in the world quoting Muggle scientists, then he digested the rest of the headmaster's words.
"You've never heard of anything that might use them?" Draco checked.
"Nothing," Dumbledore replied, "and I believe you have both been in the library most of the morning. I assume you found nothing either?"
Harry shook his head; nothing had come close.
"But I know now," he said, even though that confirmation was a comfort, "and knowledge has a nasty habit of spreading. What if all it takes is a wave of a wand and there they are for everyone to see."
"Quite," Dumbledore agreed with a nod.
[At least we're not going totally bonkers,] Harry commented to Draco.
"Perhaps, if I might be so bold as to suggest a strategy?" the headmaster said after a few moments.
"We would be glad of any suggestions," Draco replied.
"It would seem to me that the danger from this discovery comes from the inability to block it," Dumbledore said. "Hence I deduce the best way forward would be to investigate it so that a method of warding against it may be devised."
"You want us to figure out how to protect Hogwarts?" Harry asked. "But we know nothing about wards."
"And I would normally suggest the bringing in of an expert to assist," the headmaster agreed, "however, I believe that the fewer who know about this issue the better, correct?"
Harry nodded vigorously.
"Then I believe, since you are the only two who understand this phenomenon, you should investigate it and attempt to come up with a strategy," Dumbledore continued. "When such a strategy has been devised, then there are certain individuals who I would trust to help to construct a true defence. Although Hogwarts is always my first priority I feel I must point out, the Ministry is protected by similar defences and, as such is equally open to the same vulnerability."
[Didn't even think of that,] Harry admitted. [Merlin's balls, why did I have to see this?]
[Forewarned is forearmed,] was all Draco said.