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Chapter 11 : Chapter XI: Angriff ist Verteidigung
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Punching Karkaroff in the face had done much to improve his personality. The following morning, the Slav said no snide remarks, and he didn’t even sneer at the two Muggle-borns in Room 6J. In fact, he did his best to pretend that the other boys did not exist and avoided them as best he could. Dieter suspected that Karkaroff never believed a ‘Mudblood’ would fight back, and was still in a state of shock after Dieter’s painful refutation of that particular theory.
That day and thereafter, Karkaroff rarely left the company of the heavily built, linguistically deficient Slav that Dieter and Konrad had first met on the ship. This was good news and bad news, as it indicated that Karkaroff had a crisis of confidence and needed protection, but this also meant he actually had a friend.
The owls delivered the newspapers and letters to the students in the Great Hall again that morning. Dieter waited expectantly for a bird to bring a letter from home, but when none did, he figured that his family hadn’t had the time to write replies.
Konrad received his newspaper, which bore more news of the war between Poland and Germany. There was another, smaller headline in bold letters, which said, “Seven Goblins Captured – Progress Being Made.”
“Can I read that after you?” Dieter asked.
“You can read it right now,” Konrad replied, handing over the copy of Wahrheit. “I need to eat.”
Dieter took the newspaper. He predicted that great German victories would be announced in the update about the Muggle war, so he decided to read about the goblins, of which he knew little.
The ZVK struck a blow against the fugitives from justice yesterday, 3 September 1939. The evening raid resulted in the capture of seven non-wizards and eight additional goblin bandit casualties. No wizards or witches were harmed in the encounter.
“We are doing all we can to ensure the safety of the witches and wizards of the Zaubererreich,” commented Sturmtruppenführer Hedwig Fleischer, who led the daring sortie. “We will find all of [the goblins] and bring them to justice.”
This successful raid is another step towards the removal of the goblin threat, and the restoration of peace in the Zaubererreich. According to ZVK strategists, the non-wizard insurrection is expected to wind down within the next month as the size and scope of our forces’ efforts increase.
“However, that is no reason for people to not be vigilant,” said Oberkommandant Joachim Braun. “Goblins are ruthless creatures and must not be underestimated. We ask that people be watchful and exercise caution for the duration of this conflict.”
Any sightings of goblins are to be reported immediately to the proper authorities.
The article said next to nothing about the origins of the goblin insurrection, as it assumed the average reader already knew about it. He remembered while waiting for the ship on his first day at Durmstrang (Was that only two days ago? Dieter thought), a government official had mentioned trouble with goblins, thus explaining the hidden guards in the forest. He was curious to know more, and asked Konrad to fill him in on the details.
“It’s complicated,” he said through a mouthful of porridge. “I don’t know all the facts myself. But it all happened over the summer, so I guess you wouldn’t have heard about it.”
“I know. That’s why I’m asking,” Dieter stated, pointing out the obvious.
Konrad rolled his eyes and explained, “Goblins have always caused problems for wizardkind. I don’t understand them that much, but I know they are cunning, greedy, vicious little buggers with affinities for shiny things.”
They sound exactly like Jews, Dieter thought. The goblin he had seen at the wizard bank the previous year even looked like a Jew. Could they be related?
“Chancellor Grindelwald has tried very hard to make goblins useful, productive members of wizarding society, but the reform programme didn’t work out too well,” Konrad continued. Dieter was fascinated, but Ernst listened with a very neutral expression on his face.
“We ended up nationalising the Große Greif-Bank when the programme failed, but the goblins decided to fight us. They lit the bank on fire and killed a few people, and we’ve been busy putting down the uprising in the month or so since. But we’ve made pretty good progress; it’s mostly just mopping up now.”
Dieter asked, “But why has it taken you this long to sort out your goblin problem?’
“What do you mean? It’s only been since early August when this whole thing started–”
“No, what I mean is, why did you wizards bother trying to integrate them? If you knew goblins were a problem from the beginning, then why didn’t you just keep them away from wizards at the start?” Then, with a certain amount of pride, “That’s what we Muggles did with our Jews. The Führer didn’t waste time sorting things out with them after he was elected.”
Konrad merely shrugged. “Don’t ask me – I’m not a politician, or Gellert Grindelwald for that matter.” He took a sip of carrot juice. “And who is this Führer you keep talking about, and what are ‘Joos’?”
Dieter checked his watch. There wasn’t much time left for breakfast, and he needed to eat. “I’ll explain later,” he said.
Like the previous day, their first class was Flying and Quidditch Instruction. At the beginning of the lesson, Professor Adlersflügel had everyone form a line abreast and provide the names of their brooms when he passed. Quite a few girls blushed and answered as quietly as possible when it was their turn.
The flying instructor stood in front of Dieter. “What have you decided to call this broomstick?” he inquired.
“Panzer, sir.” Dieter replied, earning five easy points. It was a fitting name for the Volksbesen, considering its seemingly indestructible qualities, and Dieter felt quite clever for coming up with it. He would have felt even cleverer if it hadn’t taken him so long to do so, however.
Professor Adlersflügel wrote down the broomstick name on his clipboard and moved on to the next student. Overhearing nearby discussions, Dieter heard that Konrad had very imaginatively named his broom ‘Stick’. Others (mostly girls) had chosen actual personal names like ‘Johann’ and ‘Frida’, rather than ones that were conceptual in nature.
Afterwards and for the rest of the class, Adlersflügel led his students through more broom exercises more vigorous than the previous day’s. Having his left arm in a sling and not being a natural-born flier, Dieter’s performance was not exactly stellar. However, he was more confident on a broomstick now. He could climb, dive, accelerate, and brake, but manoeuvres more complicated than that were troublesome with only one hand to grip the broom at the moment.
Karkaroff regained his arrogance while in the air, knowing full well that Dieter couldn’t retaliate while airborne – yet. He and the other Slav who couldn’t speak German properly zoomed past him on occasion, jeering. Dieter shrugged off the Slavs’ insults and concentrated on improving his flying, determined to come out on top in his next aerial encounter.
Flying Instruction ended, and the three boys flew very carefully back to the castle for Potions in room 67.
“Welcome to Potions, students,” announced the professor with great enthusiasm. She was a young, shapely woman with wavy blonde hair tied in a loose bun. Dieter had to privately admit that she was quite pretty. She continued, “I am Flora Kirsch, and I’ll be teaching you how to brew many fun and useful things. I’m sure you’ll love this class, and I and look forward to getting to know you all very well.”
She spoke with a very bubbly tone, and she reminded Dieter of an older version of Gerta.
“Does anybody here have any experience with cooking?” the professor asked.
Several people, mostly girls, raised their hands. Dieter wondered what qualified as cooking, since he had prepared food over open flames while on Deutches Jungvolk campouts, but (if he remembered correctly) had never cooked anything in the kitchen at home.
Professor Kirsch clapped her hands together. “Oh good! Brewing potions is a lot like cooking. You have your ingredients and a pot, so just follow the directions and voilà! You have a completed potion. This is very easy and fun, and as long as you follow instructions, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to brew anything. Are there any questions before we begin today’s lesson…? Good.”
She wrote on a chalkboard a list of ingredients. “We will learn by doing in this class, so you don’t have to worry too much about taking lots of boring notes. However, I do want you to write this down. These are the ingredients for a Thickening Solution, and how the properties of each ingredient create the end product…”
Dieter scribbled down the provided material in his notes. The Thickening Solution was a simple potion that increased the density of whatever liquid, solid, or gas it came in contact with. Professor Kirsch spent only about ten minutes lecturing before having the students gather supplies from the cabinets and begin brewing their potions. It was then that Dieter ran into trouble.
None of the measurements in the instructions used any metric units. Instead, the amounts were listed in unfamiliar units like ounces, pounds, and even a pinch.
Nevertheless, Dieter thought he could figure it out, so he got to work. The instructions said to fill his school-issued cauldron with one gallon of water. However, the measuring beaker used ‘pints’ rather than ‘gallons’, so Dieter filled his cauldron with ten pints from the tap.
Once all the students had filled their cauldrons, Professor Kirsch went around the room, lighting magical fires underneath everyone’s vessels, as they had not yet learned how to do so themselves.
While his water heated, Dieter crushed a quarter-pound of dried beetles into a powder with a mortar and pestle. The task was totally absurd – he wondered about what possible use dead, ground-up insects could have in a potion, and why some of the ingredients were measured by mass and others by volume.
He dumped two and a half ounces of crushed beetles into the potion, followed by a cup of Flobberworm mucus, which was really quite disgusting. He stirred for twenty minutes (a very dull activity), and had to add one final ingredient before letting it simmer.
The final ingredient was a pinch of powdered antler, but Dieter had no idea how much a ‘pinch’ was supposed to be. He asked Konrad, who was sitting nearby to clarify what that measurement was, and he answered by simply rubbing the tips of his index finger and thumb together.
An incredibly precise measurement, a ‘pinch’ was…
According to the instructions on the board, the potion was supposed to be a dark grey colour, and emitting steam of a similar shade. Unfortunately, Dieter’s potion had turned light purple, and he had no idea how that had happened. At the other end of the room, Karkaroff and the other Slav who couldn’t speak German well were trying hard not to laugh at Dieter’s attempt. He glared at the Slavs, but that was all he could do to retaliate, short of walking over and dumping the contents of his cauldron on their heads.
Professor Kirsch walked by Dieter’s cauldron. “Are you sure you’ve followed the directions carefully, dear?” she asked kindly.
“Yes,” Dieter answered exasperatedly. He would have felt more frustrated if he was the only person struggling, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. “I followed the instructions to the letter.”
“Hmm… how much water did you put in your cauldron?”
Dieter answered, “One gallon, as instructed.”
“Are you sure, dear? It looks like you have bit too much. How many pints did you use?”
Professor Kirsch frowned and explained, “You were supposed to use eight. There are eight pints in a gallon, not ten.”
Dieter was confused “Why is that?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
He clarified, “Why are there eight pints to a gallon? Shouldn’t it be ten?”
The woman simply looked at Dieter blankly for a few moments. “That’s just the way it is,” she finally said. She asked Dieter to list exactly how much of each ingredient he used. He felt both disappointed and very annoyed when the professor revealed that he had gotten almost all the quantities wrong.
“This makes no sense,” Dieter grumbled.
“Why is that?” Kirsch asked.
“What kind of measuring system has sixteen ounces in a pound?” he said with frustration. “Why eight pints in a gallon? It makes no sense! Why not a simple number like ten, or better yet, why don’t we use the metric system?”
Again, the professor had that vacant look on her face. “What’s the metric system?” she asked after a pause. Dieter didn’t bother explaining to the woman, who continued, “Well dear, I’ll give you seven points out of ten for effort. I think you’ll be able to brew potions correctly once you figure out the correct proportions, and by then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this class.”
She walked away to check up on other students, and at ten twenty, the class was finally dismissed. Dieter was quick to complain about the class once they were out.
“What’s the point of Potions? It’s just like cooking! This is girls’ work!” he said.
Ernst said reasonably, “Don’t dislike the subject just because you were having difficulty, Dieter. Potions is a very useful subject, and you should know how to use the whether you like it or not. I suspect many careers would require it.”
Dieter grunted. Ernst was probably right, but he didn’t want to openly agree with him. He was still annoyed at having been buggered by the unfamiliar wizarding (And British, he reminded himself) system of weights and measures. The fact that Karkaroff had, as far as he could tell, made a better potion did not improve his mood either.
The next class was History of Magic, taught by Professor Simonov. Dieter’s expectations for the class were already low, on the account that the instructor was a Slav.
As it turned out, he liked History of Magic less than Potions, or Herbology.
They arrived outside classroom 23 on the third floor a few minutes early. In the corridor, beside the closed door, hung a large painting depicting a forest clearing with a number of Roman soldiers on the left side.
And to Dieter’s surprise, the Romans were moving. He had no idea magic paintings moved too, but then he thought he should have expected it considering that he already was aware of dynamic wizarding photographs.
The Roman soldiers were standing around, talking to one another. One soldier with a red plume on his helmet (a centurion?) looked over at the right side of the painting and complained, “Ah, gluteus maximus… Here they come again.”
Dieter, Konrad, and Ernst watched in fascination as another group entered the painting from the right. Shouts and war cries emanated out of the canvas as a mob of big men in furs charged the Romans. One of the barbarians wore a deer skull on his head and waved a flaming branch around which fired green thunderbolts.
The Roman soldiers did not offer any resistance. In fact, they looked rather resigned and even bored as they were all hacked to pieces by axes and swords, or were lit on fire by the wizard. The fur-wearing men danced and shouted in triumph, then exited the painting from the direction they came.
And if the scene couldn’t get any stranger, the dead Romans simply got back up as if nothing had happened. They put their limbs back on and resumed their conversations with each other.
“That’s mad,” Konrad said, mouth agape.
The door to the classroom swung open, and Professor Simonov appeared. He was a tall, thin old man with hollow cheeks, short and spiky white hair, big eyebrows, full moustache, and small beard. He had an angry expression that looked permanently etched onto his face.
“Well, what are you waiting out here for?” he growled with a Russian accent. “Get your arses inside and find yourselves a seat, damn it!”
Dieter and all the other students waiting outside in the corridor rushed inside. Going by first impressions, everyone was keen to pick a seat in the back, as far away from the Professor as possible. Dieter, Konrad, and Ernst were separated in the rush, but they did manage to stay ahead of the other students and obtained seats mostly to the rear of the classroom.
Heinrich entered and the Slav Professor promptly said, “You’re late, boy. Five points off your first assignment.”
Once the blond boy who liked to talk about his precious Zephyr Blitz broomstick was seated at the front, the professor signed the top of the chalkboard in an unintelligible scrawl. “I am Sergey Konstantinovich Simonov, and I teach History of Magic. If you didn’t have the intellectual capacity of a baboon’s arse, you would have figured that out on your own.”
He wrote something else on the board, and Dieter struggled to decipher it. It took him a few seconds to realise that it was a subject heading and a timeframe, so he copied that into his notes.
“Our aims for this year are to learn about the history of magic, if it wasn’t already obvious. If it wasn’t, then you have no business in this school. Now, I have the unutterable joy of teaching you brats this year, so I warn you now to not test me. Understand?”
The students nodded fervently.
“Understand?” Professor Simonov stressed, more forcefully.
“Yes, sir, Professor Simonov,” the class chorused.
The Slav grumbled something to himself in Russian. Then, in German: “In this class, you will learn about history. History is about FACT. There will be no debates and no discussions in this class. You will write down what I tell you, and answer with what I told you. I will lecture you for an hour and a half each session, so you better take good notes if you know what’s good for you. Understand?”
The students once again recited, “Yes, Professor Simonov.” Dieter dreaded the rest of the class.
Simonov took the roll call, and asked each student to provide his or her blood status.
“Present. Muggle-born,” he provided. The professor moved down the list, and Dieter looked around the classroom as each name was called. This way, he discovered that the brick-like (in both physique and intellect) Slav who accompanied Karkaroff was named Aleksandr Todorov. Furthermore, the pretentious Heinrich’s surname was Fuerst, and Gerta’s was Roth. Those three students were all Pure-bloods, as were Konrad, Karkaroff, and a few others. There also were many Half-bloods, and several Muggle-borns.
Once finished with roll call, Professor Simonov said, “Right. Now that that’s out of the way, I know what kind of students I am dealing with. But don’t you worry – I don’t discriminate. You are all equally worthless. On to the lesson! Everyone, get your damn books out. Read pages four through six. You have two minutes to read, starting now.”
There was a flurry of motion as all the students took out their copies of Das Erste Zaubererreich - A History of Magic Before 1689 from their bags and started reading as quickly as they could. The writing was small, but fortunately there was a large map of Germany (but with borders unfamiliar to Dieter) on page five, so the reading assignment was not solid text.
The passage was merely an introduction to the topic of magical history, and there was little substantial information of note.
“Time’s up,” the Slav Professor said. “Put your books away. Let’s test your reading comprehension, shall we? Hmm… who should my first victim be…? Fuerst! Tell me, who is the author of your textbook?”
Heinrich tried glancing into his book bag at the book’s cover, and without much success. “No peeking!” Simonov growled.
“Another five points from your first assignment. Now… Busch! Can you tell me who the author is?”
“Walter Ehrlichmann, sir,” Ernst answered nervously.
“Good. Kozlowski! What does Ehrlichmann say is the most important part of our magical heritage?”
And so it went. Professor Simonov spent the next few minutes terrorising the students, barking stupid questions. Dieter considered himself fortunate that he wasn’t called upon. Konrad hadn’t been so lucky, and lost five points from his first assignment like many others.
Once done with questions, the Professor lectured the class on the evolution of magic, namely that of wands, in ancient Europe. A magic piece of chalk wrote down what he was saying on the board, but there was no improvement on the legibility of the handwriting. The Slav Professor must have enchanted the chalk himself.
Dieter had to privately admit that the lesson was actually quite interesting. He knew nothing about the evolution of wandmaking, from the use of unaltered tree branches to prepared wands, and the stages in between. It was simply fascinating, but the mood was completely spoiled by the old Slav standing behind the teacher’s desk. He treated everyone in the class (Aryans and Untermenschen alike) slightly better than he would maggots. In between lecturing, he would call on a random person and demand an accurate explanation of things he had covered. Dieter was very glad he took detailed notes, as he was able to answer a question to the Professor’s satisfaction.
Karkaroff raised his hand. “Excuse me, sir?” he asked.
“What?” Simonov growled dangerously. Though Dieter already hated the Professor with a loathing, he would have dearly liked to see the Slavic teacher verbally dismember Karkaroff.
“I can’t read what you wrote on the chalkboard, sir,” Karkaroff said.
Professor Simonov gave the (other) Slav a deadly stare. “That was a statement, not a question. Stupid statements are not permitted in this class. Five points off your first assignment.”
For just a fleeting moment, Dieter regarded Professor Simonov favourably for putting down Karkaroff. But it was only for a fleeting moment. Simonov was still a complete and utter bastard, and seemed to enjoy bullying students. He was a prime example of Slavic barbarity.
He assigned a five hundred word summary of the first chapter, worth ten points and due the next class session. At noon, after an hour and a half of virtual torture, the students were released. Everyone, even Dieter, who considered himself adept at handling privations, felt massively relieved and rushed out of History of Magic (“Don’t run in the classroom, damn it!”). It was liberating. It felt like a reprieve of a death sentence.
Dieter was summoned to the Infirmary to get the sling off his left arm, so he bade Konrad and Ernst goodbye and headed off on his own.
It was over very quick. Fraüline Fertig did some spell, gave Dieter a final potion to drink, took off the sling, and sent Dieter on his way again. He was amazed at the power of magical medicine. If he had broken his arm back home, he would have been incapacitated for quite some time.
He ran into Karkaroff and the other Slav (Todorov – was that his name?) on his way to lunch in the Great Hall.
“What do you want?” Dieter said.
“You’re going to wish you never punched me, Mudblood,” Karkaroff declared. He sounded confident, but that was only because he wasn’t facing Dieter alone.
“You’re going to wish you were never born a Slav, Untermensch,” Dieter replied, stepping around the two. As satisfying as it would be to beat them to a pulp (which he was sure he could do), they weren’t worth the effort. Dieter would rather eat lunch than fight with rats.
“Hey, don’t just walk away from us, Mudblood!” Karkaroff called after him.
Dieter found Konrad and Ernst at one of the tables and joined them. Ernst was quite eagerly eating something crescent shaped and yellow – a banana.
He had a rare, wide smile on his face. “This is brilliant!” he said in-between bites. “I’ve never had a banana before!”
“You can’t be serious. You’ve never eaten a banana even once before?” Konrad asked incredulously.
Ernst shook his head. “No. They’re pretty expensive.” He finished one banana and promptly started on another one. Dieter himself had only had bananas three or four times before, but being already acquainted with the taste, he didn’t enjoy the tropical fruit as much as Ernst did.
Dieter said nothing to Konrad on the subject of Jews during lunch, as he had completely forgotten about their unfinished conversation that morning.
After eating a balanced lunch (which in Ernst’s case meant balanced in terms of the variety of banana shapes, from relatively straight to dramatically curved), they went to their last class of the day, not counting Astronomy, which would be a night.
Defensive Magic was the class Dieter was most looking forward to, and he was not disappointed.
“Good afternoon, class,” greeted Professor Bruno Schmidt. He was of average height, but very broad shouldered and muscular. He had brown hair, and his head was very rectilinear, as if it was made completely of forty-five degree and right angles. He looked friendly, though. However, considering the recent encounter with Professor Simonov, Dieter’s standard for what was ‘friendly’ had dropped considerably.
“Good afternoon, Professor Schmidt,” the students replied out of formality rather than fear of dire consequences.
“Now that we’ve covered the obligatory basics of Erkling defence, we’ll move on to the actual first-year curriculum. Dieter, how is your arm feeling?”
He never would have expected a professor to call on him by his first name, much less know about his accident the previous day. “Feel’s fine,” he said.
“Excellent! Would you be interested in popping by here after sixteen ten, to cover the lesson you missed yesterday?”
Professor Schmidt moved on to the lesson. “As you know, this class is called ‘Defensive Magic’. However, this title is a misnomer. Can anyone tell me why?”
Students looked around at each other, and nobody raised their hands. Dieter decided to give it a shot.
“It’s a misnomer because… it is best to defend by attacking?”
Professor Schmidt nodded, impressed. “Good to see you’ve done your reading; that is correct. I must stress this now, and I will stress it all year. Attack is the only defence. To be put on the defensive, you have already yielded the initiative to the aggressor. If you are on the defence, you are merely a puppet, because the enemy pulls the strings. You must respond to his moves. He calls the shots.
“Therefore, the aim of this class is not to just teach you how to survive an encounter with an assailant. It is to teach you how to counter the attacker’s moves, switch to the offensive as soon as possible, and defeat the enemy. Everyone please write this down.”
He wrote some very sparse notes on the chalkboard:
‘Attack is Defence’
Dieter appreciated how Defensive Magic class would not involve much writing.
“This is how your education will be divided while you’re at Durmstrang. For your first and second year, you will learn the basics of practical magic defence, or offence, I should say. This is how to use combat spells, hit your target, tactics, and so forth.”
He added some notes on the board.
“Your third and fourth years will concentrate on threat recognition and neutralisation. In other words, this means how to identify an enemy, know how to defeat him, and attack him before he attacks you. Finally, in your last three years, we will cover the advanced spells and techniques of wand combat.”
He finished writing the short outline and asked for questions. “Yes, Frigg?”
A girl with a long blonde hair asked, “When you say, ‘attack your enemy before he attacks you,’ isn’t that…?”
Professor Schmidt suggested, “Aggressive?” The girl nodded, and the professor continued, “You are entirely right. However, it’s always better to stun first, and ask questions later. Always be on your guard and ready to strike. We’ll go over this in detail after we cover the basics, which is what we’ll start today.”
He clapped his hands together and rubbed them together. “So, on to business! I’m going to teach you a simple spell, which you will use for the majority of the year in your practice sessions. It is the Stinging Hex, with the incantation, Mordax, from the Latin.”
He wrote ‘Mordax’ on the board. Pointing to the underlined portion, he said, “Note the stress on the first syllable. Now, what this incantation does is shoot a red bolt that sharply stings whatever it comes in contact with. It is not lethal, of course, but feels something like a powerful bee sting. So, avoid getting hit in the face if you can avoid it, because that hurts. Now, without wands please, just repeat after me. Mordax.”
“Mordax,” the class repeated.
“Good. Now, can anyone tell me why Mordax is a better spell than something like, say, Expelliarmus? How about you, Konrad?”
Konrad hadn’t expected to be called upon, but he answered, “Er… it’s, erm… easier to say?”
“Precisely! The number of syllables does matter in a duel. The fewer the syllables, the less time it takes to say it, thus the more often you can cast it. Furthermore, it is less likely that you will mispronounce anything. Though Expelliarmus is a very useful spell, you are much more likely to slur your syllables together.
“Casting a Stinging Hex is quite simple. The only wand movement required is a sharp, downwards flick. Jabbing your hand forwards at the same time adds more force to the spell, but this extra movement makes it harder to maintain a rapid barrage of hexes. It’s up to you really. Now, does anybody still need to copy down what’s on the board?”
Nobody answered, so Professor Schmidt cleared the notes about the Stinging Hex with his wand. Following that, he drew eight circles on the board, each about thirty centimetres in diameter and uniformly spaced between each other.
“Everyone, put everything away, please. All you need now is your wands.”
The class complied eagerly. Dieter was quite excited.
Once the students had packed away their book bags and notes, the professor sent all the desks flying to one side of the classroom, clearing all obstructions between the students and the chalkboard. “Please form up against the back wall. Your targets are those one-foot circles on the board. Begin whenever you feel like you are ready.”
Professor Schmidt hurried out of the way, as some thirty wands were drawn and aimed towards the front of the room.
Dieter thought he was the first to cast the spell, but he wasn’t sure. Voices chorused, “Mordax!” and an erratic volley of red bolts shot towards the chalkboard. The spells sparked on contact, leaving small scorch marks.
It was nothing like shooting an air rifle, for the wand had no sights, and his hand blocked his sight picture. Neither was it anything like throwing darts or snowballs, since he only needed a jab and flick, and the spell travelled in a straight line without being affected by gravity. Dieter would need to develop an entirely new instinct and technique in order to hit anything with his wand.
His first spell hit the chalkboard, but it struck low and nowhere near any of the targets. He was undeterred, however – some other students hadn’t managed to produce the Stinging Hex on their first attempt.
Dieter shouted “Mordax!” again and again, hurling the red jets of light at the chalkboard. It was quite possibly the most fun he had ever had, perhaps more so than riding a broom. There was nothing more thrilling than pelting an inoffensive, inanimate object with exploding red tracers!
“How about a race?” Dieter called to Konrad and Ernst. “First person to hit a circle five times wins.”
Konrad nodded vigorously. “You’re on!”
The three boys proceeded to throw spells at the targets. Konrad was flicking his wand as quickly as possible, spraying a barrage of spells in the hopes of hitting something. In complete contrast, Ernst was taking his time. He held his arm out straight and took careful aim for each spell. However, the fact that his hand was blocking the view of his own wand was a hindrance. Dieter’s style was something of a compromise, in which he tried to be as accurate as possible but without spending a long time aiming – he figured that since it was almost possible to both flick a wand and accurately point it at the same time, he should just fire spells, see where they land, and adjust his aim from there.
In the end, nobody could claim victory. With perhaps two dozen other people throwing spells simultaneously, it was hard to tell whose Stinging Hex was whose. It was all great fun, nonetheless.
“All right, that’s enough for now,” Professor Schmidt called out, and it took a moment for all the shouts of “Mordax!” to die down. “Can you all hear me? Good. Now, who’s satisfied with their aim?”
Nobody answered ‘yes’. Though Dieter had hit a circle once or twice, which was better than many of the other students, he knew he could do better.
“As much as I expected,” Schmidt said. “But not to worry. Now that you know the spell, I’m going to teach you technique. Pay close attention…”
For the rest of the class, Professor Schmidt demonstrated various wand motions and duelling positions: high guard, low guard, wand arm out, wand arm in, overhead slash, low strike. The different wand positions reminded Dieter more of fencing than anything else.
“Remember, use whatever technique is best suited for you. I don’t care if you launch spells behind your back, but you better be able to hit something if you do.”
The only homework Schmidt assigned was to practice the Stinging Hex and their aim. The bell rang and the students left, babbling excitedly about the lesson.
“You know I won that competition,” Konrad said. “I hit five of the targets before any of you did.”
“What are you talking about? You can’t even hit an elephant on the other side of the room!” Dieter refuted.
They walked back to their dormitory to drop off their books and enjoy the afternoon and evening in whatever way they saw fit before their astronomy class in the dead of night. Dieter suggested that they go outside and practice Stinging Hexes, whereas Ernst was adamant about starting on his reading.
“Well, you can just bring your books with you and read while we blast away,” suggested Konrad.
Ernst’s expression said he’d rather read somewhere with some peace and quiet, but he relented. “Oh, all right.”
Once at the first-years’ tower, Dieter and Konrad relieved themselves of their book bags. However, in a feat of some very good timing, the door opened and an older student with black collar tabs and a badge on his uniform entered.
“Is one of you here Dieter Heydrich?” the präfekt asked.
“That’s me,” Dieter said.
The präfekt handed him a small piece of paper. “The Deputy Rector wants to see you in his office. Fourth floor, north side.”
“What for?” Dieter demanded, but the older student didn’t reply and merely exited the room.
Konrad looked at Dieter, confused. “Does this mean you’re in trouble already? What did you–? …Oh.”
“Probably,” Dieter muttered. “Well, wish me luck.”
Konrad gave him a sympathetic look, but Ernst’s expression said, ‘Well? What did you expect?’
Dieter hadn’t been on the castle’s fourth floor on the north side yet, but he found Professor Odoaker’s office without getting lost. He knocked three times on the door that bore a plaque: ‘Theoderich Odoaker – Deputy Rector’.
“Come in,” Odoaker’s voice invited from inside.
Dieter opened the door and entered the Deputy Rector’s office. The walls were lined with bookshelves and drawers crammed with overflowing files. Odoaker was seated behind his desk, and in front of it were two chairs; one of which occupied by someone who Dieter was not at all unsurprised to see.
“Please, take a seat Master Heydrich,” Professor Odoaker said. Dieter sat down in the chair next to Karkaroff and did his best to ignore him.
“How are your classes so far?” Odoaker asked conversationally. Dieter replied that they were well.
“That’s good to hear. Now, I am sure you know why you are here, and it is not pleasant business. Your roommate, Igor Karkaroff, has informed me that you punched him in the face last night without provocation. Is this true?”
Dieter shook his head and said, “That’s only partially true, sir. I did punch him, sir, but it was not unprovoked. He was calling me ‘Mudblood’ all day and when he said it last night, I punched him.”
“He’s lying, professor,” Karkaroff argued. “I don’t know why, but he just hates me for no reason! And last night, this Mudbl–Muggle-born just p-punched…”
The Slav stopped speaking and tried to keep a straight, realising he had just made a complete fool of himself.
“I see,” Professor Odoaker said levelly. “Well, I just have to say that I am disappointed in both of you. Master Karkaroff, you espouse these hateful prejudices that have plagued wizardkind for centuries – prejudices Grindelwald has sworn to eradicate at all costs. And you, Master Heydrich, you let your temper get the better of you, and you sought your revenge by resorting to crude Muggle brawling. Therefore, you will both have detention this Saturday.”
Both? Dieter thought. That was entirely unfair! Why did he have to get punished for teaching the Slav a lesson?
“I don’t want to hear any arguments,” Professor Odoaker said, holding up his hand and cutting off the two boys’ protests. “I don’t like punishing students, but I do what I must. You will serve detention on Saturday at eighteen o’clock, and it will last for as long as it takes you to complete your tasks.”
Dieter and Karkaroff gave up trying to dispute the Deputy Rector’s decision. Instead, they glared daggers at each other.
“You don’t have to like each other, but you will tolerate each other,” Professor Odoaker stated. “The Zaubererreich is on a mission to change the world, and that starts with wizards and witches putting their petty feuds aside and cooperating for the greater good. I want you to remember that.”
The two boys nodded, but without any sincerity. “You may go,” Professor Odoaker said.
Karkaroff got up from his chair and left, but Dieter stayed and asked, “May I ask you a question, sir?”
“If it’s a short one.”
“Why are Untermenschen admitted and allowed to learn and teach at Durmstrang?”
“I beg your pardon?”
Dieter repeated his question and clarified, “Why are sub-humans like Karkaroff allowed to come here?”
In a softer tone than before, Professor Odoaker answered empathetically, “Master Heydrich, I’m sure you greatly dislike him for calling you what he did. ‘Mudblood’ is a vile word to call someone like you, but that gives you no reason to call Master Karkaroff a ‘sub-human’.”
“But he is,” Dieter stated, as it was a simple fact.
“But I’m sure you’ll reconsider what you said when you’re less angered,” the Deputy Rector remarked, “Now, I have some work to do, so I hope you don’t mind me asking you to leave.”
Dieter exited the office, astonished that Odoaker had misunderstood his question on sub-humans completely.
According to the board in the common room, there were sixty-four first-year students at Durmstrang Institute for Magical Learning. The students were currently listed alphabetically, since no assignment or quiz scores had yet been submitted.
A handful of students on the list were not Germans, but were otherwise fellow Aryans from Scandinavian countries. Non-Aryan humans included two Latins, one from Italy and the other from Spain. By perusing this directory, Dieter came across a most unwelcome discovery.
There were far more Slavs at Durmstrang than just Karkaroff, his friend, and the professors of Herbology and History. In fact, there were no less than twenty-one Untermenschen in the first-year alone, a mixture of Poles, Russians, and other Slavs from whatever dark reaches of the globe they came from. A full third of the students in Dieter’s year were sub-humans, and now Dieter knew the full horror of how deeply entrenched they were into the school.
Dieter could forgive Konrad for not knowing the most basic facets of racial studies, but the Deputy Rector’s complete ignorance of the subject was nothing short of shocking. As far as Dieter could discern, the entire administration of Durmstrang Institute was unaware of the dangers Aryan students faced with such a dramatic infestation of Slavs. Neither were the students themselves, for that matter.
There were Untermenschen in the first-year common room, freely intermingling with Aryans. It was incredibly frustrating for Dieter, seeing his countrymen interacting with sub-humans, heedless of the dangers. It was even more frustrating to realise that identifying a Slav by sight was much harder than Dieter thought. Though some students had recognisably Slavic features that matched the diagrams in Dieter’s racial classes, he could only identify some as Untermenschen by learning their names or listening to their accents. For the first time, Dieter really appreciated the hard work doctors did in the Reich – they must have been incredibly good to categorise the races just by the different shapes and features of skulls and faces.
Dieter didn’t want to think about what would happen if the Aryans of Durmstrang continued to be subjected to the Slavic intrusion. If nothing was done, the Untermensch would infect the Aryan national body like some terrible disease, and forever plague the Volk with impurities and filth. Dieter could not let that happen. He knew he had to defend his nation and race from the intruding stench of sub-humanity!
Suddenly, Professor Schmidt’s maxim, ‘Attack is Defence’, took on a greater, grander meaning.
Title: "Attack is Defence"
Thanks to nala for the illustration, and Molly (OliveOil_Med) for commissioning it!
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