The Department of Mysteries: Penetration

by Bob Sindeldecker

We Just Floo In

One of the things you learn in military (and probably police) training is Penetration, or getting into your enemy’s camp with or without them knowing you’re in (preferably without, but sometimes it does not matter). Since we already know the Death Eaters can function as a unit, it is safe to say they probably have had some sort of military training. How, then, will they penetrate Hogwarts, as so many fans expect them to do?

First, I need to dispel a misconception common to HP fandom: the Forbidden Forest is not a way into Hogwarts. The Forest is, in fact, part of Hogwarts and is just as protected against Apparation and other things as the non-forested part of the estate. Jo has not told us where the property line is, but it definitely extends past the tree limit. This is why Hagrid told the Centaurs in OotP that they were there at Dumbledore’s whim, and he could kick them out if he so chose: the Forest is just as much Hogwarts property as the Castle and everything else.

Now, this does not mean that all of the forested land around Hogwarts is protected – just the part on Hogwarts property. The Hogwarts property borders other property from which the invaders could attack, and some of that is surely forested. It would be hard for anyone without a map and good orienteering skills to say where Hogwarts begins or ends.

So how would they get in? There are too many ways.


I don’t see why nobody has suggested the obvious: they could just fly in on broomsticks. We have never seen the Death Eaters fly, and maybe there is good reason for that. Jo may have left that out so we wouldn’t expect it. But really, why not? Charlie’s friends flew in easily in the first book, and Harry & Co. flew out just as easily in OotP. Indeed, the Quidditch teams fly over Hogwarts all year long. A broomstick invasion seems absurdly simple.

Sailing The Sorcerous Seas

Igor Karkaroff brought his Durmstrang students in by ship, somehow, up through the Lake. It would appear this was a magical journey – we have heard nothing about the Lake being connected to the sea. Either way, it means magical sailing ships can get through. This is an especially chilling idea because Karkaroff is a Death Eater. He did not return to Voldemort, true. But I think Voldemort and his loyal band might be able to force Karkaroff to work with them, or simply torture the secret out of him. A maritime invasion is a distinct possibility.


Yes, yes, I know, you cannot Apparate at Hogwarts! True enough. But you can Apparate near Hogwarts and then just walk right in. For example, why not Apparate to Hogsmeade? I’m sure people do it all the time. How else would magical folk get around? They sure wouldn’t drive SUVs. So I could easily see them Apparating to Hogsmeade and then just walking right in.

Other Routes To Hogsmeade

Let’s see, there’s floo powder, if you know where you want to go – and most Death Eaters would, having been to Hogsmeade as students. They could take the Knight Bus, which picks up anyone and goes anywhere. They could fly, either on broomsticks or the illegal magic carpets that Crouch was so keen to keep out of the country (Ali Bashir might be a natural ally of Voldemort). Then again, why couldn’t they just drive up in SUVs? I mean, wizards can use cars – we’ve seen that. Lucius Malfoy and probably other Death Eaters are stinking rich, so they could afford Range Rovers. Why couldn’t they simply drive up, with air-conditioning and DVD players going, and invade Hogwarts that way? It would be in keeping with the barrier between the Muggle and Magical worlds coming apart, a theme Jo touched on in OotP but did not pursue very far.

Now, so far I have assumed the invaders would get close to Hogwarts and then mount their assault in a fairly straightforward manner. They would probably do this at night, but it would be something any observer could see happening, and if the borders were observed and occupied they could not get in. Something tells me Voldemort & Co. will not be so stupid, however. What kind of sneaky ways are there to get in?

The Shrieking Shack

I’ll bet Voldemort knows the Shrieking Shack isn’t really haunted, and if he thinks it is, I’ll bet he knows how to de-spook it in a trice. The point is that once they get to Hogsmeade, the Death Eaters could sneak onto Hogwarts grounds via the secret passage from the Shrieking Shack.

But wait, you say, wouldn’t the Death Eaters need to know about that passage before they could use it? Why, yes – and they do know, thanks to both Snape and Pettigrew, who have used it before. If Snape won’t tell Voldemort about it, you can bet Pettigrew will.

Of course, once they emerge they will be at the mercy of the Whomping Willow. Before it is turned off it will whomp anything within reach, and you can’t turn it off from inside, so far as we know. That would be a funny sight: Death Eaters emerging all black-hooded and sinister, maybe led by Voldemort himself, then… WHOMP!! hehehe. 🙂

But there is another safer, more effective secret passage from Hogsmeade in…


Yes, Fred and George’s favorite passage, the one that leads straight into the basement of Honeydukes Sweet Shop. The basement, of course, is where they store the inventory, and where nobody can see you gathering for an assault. It makes a dandy staging area and a pretty good rally point if you need to run.

The worst part is, this particular passage comes out right inside the Castle, behind that statue of the hump-backed witch. The Death Eaters would be right in the center of where they want to be, no need to breach the front door, and the only person up and about at that time of night would be one helpless Squib and his skinny, underfed cat.

The Floo Network

If the Death Eaters could floo into Hogsmeade, why not just go directly into Hogwarts itself? Sirius did this, and Harry did it the other way. True, neither went all the way through the fire, but they could have. This is perhaps the most sinister of all possibilities, because it allows the enemy direct access to the common rooms of each of the houses – and oh, don’t we know which common room they want most of all! In through the fire, then up the spiral staircases until they find Harry and can bring him to their Lord. And who cares if they need to kill a few witnesses along the way?

That’s bad. That is very bad. But you know, I really cannot believe it would be so easy as all that. Shouldn’t Hogwarts have better protections than this? Shouldn’t it be VERY hard to attack a school full of innocent children?

We have seen, in SS/PS, that a person’s intention can affect their access to things. Dumbledore charmed the Mirror Of Erised so that only someone who wanted to find the Stone, but not use it, could get it out. It stands to reason that not only he but many other powerful witches and wizards would have protected Hogwarts the same way. They would have laid charms, curses, hexes and jinxes so that anyone with any hostile intent could not gain access to the school.

Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and More, by Chantal Perez, speculated that Hogwarts may be Unplottable and may have a Fidelius Charm upon it. If so, the theory goes, the obvious choice for a Secret-Keeper is Hagrid. Hagrid is the one who welcomes new students to the school and shows them where it is every year. Also, most people assume Hagrid is a dumb oaf who cannot do magic, so they would not expect him to be a Secret Keeper.

It stands to reason, also, that nobody could gain access to Hogwarts grounds unless someone within Hogwarts invited them in. So far we have seen no proof of this one way or another, because we have seen nobody get in who wasn’t allowed (even the Dementors were allowed in by Fudge, against Dumbledore’s wishes). We have seen the Dementors stopped at the gates by Dumbledore, until Fudge superseded his will. So, I think it is safe to say you have to be invited into Hogwarts to gain entrance to it.

The trouble is, that isn’t a problem.

An Inside Job

We know of at least four Death Eaters – Crabbe, Goyle, Nott and Malfoy – who have children attending Hogwarts. There may be more. Any one of their kids could invite their parents into the school at any time, and their parents’ friends as well. No matter what their intentions, no matter how evil their desires, once they are invited in by a student – a member of the family, if you will – they will have free reign all over the school.

I know what you’re thinking: but Sirius wasn’t invited and he got in! Oh? Wasn’t Sirius invited to talk to Harry, by Harry himself? And yes, Sirius got in as a dog. Hogwarts’ protections may not work on animals or on humans in animal form. But you know, I suspect that Crookshanks let Sirius in all those times. Even if not, Sirius had no intention of harming a Hogwarts student, he only wanted to kill Pettigrew, who was a menace to Hogwarts students himself. Aha, you say, but why was Pettigrew even able to get in? Because he was Ron’s rat and Ron wanted him in, of course.

It all fits. It makes sense that Hogwarts cannot be penetrated by just anyone, certainly not by any stranger wishing to harm the school or those it protects. But then, if a member of the family lets them in, then anyone can enter, as they have been made welcome.

It really all boils down to loyalty. If certain Slytherins are loyal to their parents and betray the school, then the Death Eaters will get in. If they choose otherwise, then forget it. The crux of the matter may be decisions made by Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle and Theodore Nott. As Jo has told us many times, it is our choices, not our heredity, that really matter.


On February 20 I met the members of HP-Ohio for the very first time. What a blast! We went out to eat and babbled non-stop about our favorite boy wizard and his world. After lunch we went to a coffee shop and babbled some more. Somehow some useful work got done. All throughout it was fun, fun, fun.

By the way, HP-Ohio needs guys. Except for Cora’s boyfriend who was only there for Cora, I was the only male member in a bevy of hot young witches – not that there’s anything wrong with that! But the ladies would like more gentlemen, if only to make skits and role-playing games easier. We want to do a skit at MARCON and maybe the HBP release, so we definitely need a Harry (I am compelled to play Hagrid, who I resemble). These are tasty babes too, fellas – Millicent Bulstrode is not in evidence. Contact the Webmistress and join the fun!

Here’s the really fun part. My ride was Cheryl – no last name, just Cheryl. I spent six hours with Cheryl and was almost home before I found out I had graduated high school with her sister Regina! Regina and I had several classes together and sat at the same table at our 10-year class reunion. I never knew her family, so I did not recognize Cheryl. What a happy development. It’s a small world, after all.