Chapter 12 : Chapter XII: Meldungen
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…So, have you met any nice girls at Durmstrang yet? What are they like? Also, I’m curious… how long are the hems of your school robes? Do the girls at Durmstrang wear skirts underneath or what?
Anyway, it’s great that you’re enjoying wizard school, little brother. Just don’t beat yourself up with all your classes, be on the lookout for pretty faces and bottoms, and don’t forget to learn the spells I was talking about. Hope to hear again from you soon!
Your older brother,
Dieter shook his head. Typical, he thought darkly. Does he ever think of anything else? Dieter was convinced that his older brother would find himself in a lot of trouble some day on account of that.
He put Hans’ inane letter at the bottom and pulled out the next letter from the bundle. It was from his mother.
I am pleased to read that you are adjusting well to Durmstrang and are making new friends. I do wish I could visit you (and see this magnificent castle myself) at some time, but I fear this will be impossible until the Yuletide holiday. Nevertheless, I love you more than words can describe, and I will at least try to send you a pie someday. I’m not exactly sure if an owl can carry the weight, but I will try.
Your brothers and sisters already miss you, and send you their love. The owl you sent, in their words, was not as nice as ‘Flower’ from last year, but was perfectly courteous and stayed for a day so we could write our replies.
I am immensely proud of you, Dieter. You have been given an opportunity of which we can only dream of, and I know you will not let it go to waste. Work hard, meet new people, and have fun. I wish you well, and good luck in everything you do at Durmstrang.
He had received letters from his younger siblings as well. Their messages were not particularly long, and primarily concerned how much they already missed their older brother. However, Paul specifically requested in his reply that Dieter check the library for any information on dragons, in order to establish an evolutionary link from dinosaurs. That was a bit low on Dieter’s list of priorities, but he decided would honour his younger brother’s request. In addition to her letter, Marie had sent a drawing of what Durmstrang looked like based off Dieter’s descriptions. The picture was far better than anything Dieter could produce, and fairly accurate, considering his younger sister had never seen the castle.
Though Dieter’s letter from his father was full of parental praise and congratulations, it was much more businesslike. He emphasised Dieter’s need to do as well as he could in his classes, and to bear himself as a model representative of National Socialism to the ignorant wizarding students.
Unexpectedly, Dieter also received a note from one of his friends back home – he never considered Karl to be the thoughtful type to send letters, but apparently he was. The letter was full of questions about East Prussia, and what the Napola school was like. Dieter frowned while he read. He had wanted to tell his Muggle friends about going to Durmstrang, but Professor Odoaker had let it be known from his first meeting that any discussion of magic with non-magical people outside of immediate family members was expressly forbidden. Dieter wished to see the stunned, awestruck looks on his Muggle friends’ faces, but he would never get that chance.
Attached to Karl’s letter was a note from Father:
I assume you don’t need to be reminded that you cannot reply to your friend Karl’s letter with any information pertaining to your unique situation at Durmstrang. However, I must tell you that when you reply (assuming you do), you MUST NOT address it to Karl’s house. I think they will be confused at the very least by a letter delivered by owl.
Therefore, please address to our home. I will find the appropriate postage stamps and envelope to make the letter look like it convincingly came from the NPEA Stuhm. Note that even if you send me your reply tomorrow, I will not deliver it to your friend for at least a few weeks, as I am certain that the war with Poland has disrupted the movement of non-essential correspondence from the east, and the arrival of your reply should reflect this.
I will be on the lookout for more letters sent your way. If I could be promoted to oversee the entire town’s postage, life would be much simpler. However, secretly rooting through the boxes at the post office will have to suffice for the moment.
Again, work hard and learn as much as you can. You make me proud, Dieter. Perhaps one day with the magic you’ve learned from Durmstrang, you can make your country proud too.
~ Your Father
Dieter hadn’t fully realised how problematic it would be to conceal his attending of a magical school. The cover story of going to a Napola school sounded deceptively simple, but his father’s letter had once again proven otherwise. If it weren’t for Father’s thoughtfulness, Dieter might have been stuck trying to answer awkward questions from State Police agents, and probably wouldn’t have made it to Durmstrang in the first place unless Professor Odoaker decided to intervene on his behalf.
However, Dieter resolved not to worry about such things. Besides, there was nothing he could do about it at Durmstrang, and his secret was safe in his father’s capable hands.
A few days after the beginning of the war with Poland, the wizarding newspaper Wahrheit once again had a big, eye-catching headline.
France and Great Britain enter conflict!
The flames of war were fanned to distressing heights yesterday, 3 September 1939, by what can only be described as an act of madness. Despite (or perhaps encouraged by) the mindless devastation and death occurring on the German-Polish border, the Muggle governments of France and Great Britain declared their intention to widen the scope of this unfortunate conflict. Hours later, the Muggle regions of Australia, New Zealand, and India joined the fray, exporting this war beyond the continent of Europe.
“If Muggle countries continue to go to war with each other at this rate, the entire Muggle world will be caught up in this wild, confusing conflict,” commented a Muggle Specialist. “These peoples’ appetite for bloodshed will be hard to quench.”
Currently, no satisfactory explanation exists for the outbreak of Muggle hostilities three days ago. However, by careful analysis of Muggle broadcasts and publications, a theory has emerged that the war was sparked by a trivial dispute over a city called Danzig, on the Baltic coast. However, as Danzig rests within the Zaubererreich’s borders, analysts are at a loss as to why the Muggle co-inhabitants of Germany would invade Poland to seize a city they already owned.
Adding to the confusion, German Muggle sources state that Poland struck first. It is difficult to ascertain the truth, but ultimately, this is irrelevant. The speed at which this war expands is a disturbing indication of the eagerness of Muggle governments to embrace wholesale carnage to settle their squabbles.
“Why else would so many countries go to war simultaneously?” the Muggle Specialist said. “They must be venting bottled frustrations, or perhaps the Muggle fools Lebrun and Chamberlain just like fighting too much.”
Exactly how this turbulent will conflict unfolds is uncertain, but it is likely that the slaughter will reach an unprecedented scale and scope. ‘Guns’, ‘tanks’, catapults, and other hideous contraptions that spit fire and metal seem appear destined to scar the continent with the torn wreckage of buildings and bodies, much like in the last large Muggle conflict of 1914-1918.
Kanzler Gellert Grindelwald commented in an official statement, “We wizards and witches of the Second Zaubererreich deplore violence, and our hearts go out to the helpless, innocent masses cruelly subjected to the murder brought by this needless war. But though we are lovers of peace, we are fearless crusaders of justice and right! There will be a time when warmongering Muggle tyrants are given a harsh lesson on wizarding benevolence.”
“It will be for the greater good,” the Chancellor concluded.
“Catapults?” Dieter mouthed incredulously. He checked the author, and it was the same Herr J. Federkiel who put forward the news of the war’s outbreak a few days earlier.
The article’s research was humorously poor. Anyone who thought that Muggles still fought with catapults must have been extraordinarily stupid. He was also amused by the brief mention of Lebrun and Chamberlain. Fools they were, but the article’s image of them as belligerent warmongers struck Dieter as comical and absurd.
However, most of the article simply irritated Dieter. Frankly, it was an insult that such an inept writer passed off fellow (albeit non-magical) Aryans as bloodthirsty and obsessed with mindless fighting. Didn’t Federkiel know that the war began because of Polish attacks on German sovereignty? That Danzig was a rightfully German city, which had suffered under the Polish boot since the Treaty of Versailles? How could any journalist be so shoddy with their research? Did Herr Federkiel know anything about the Muggle world? Dieter read through the article a few times and came to the conclusion that the answer was ‘no’.
Dieter made a mental note to ask for the correct story in his next letter to his father. He also had half a mind to write a letter this Federkiel fellow and chastise him.
Durmstrang castle was a compact cluster of towers, corridors, and stone and wood buildings nestled between its cluttered walls. Technically, there were four floors. However, with the castle built on an uneven, rocky outcrop projecting from the mountainside, there was no definitive ground floor. Sometimes the second floor of one part of the castle would connect directly to the fourth of another, and there was even one peculiar wing that had its floors numbered in fractions. Narrow, steep staircases and wider ones with saner inclines were to be found everywhere throughout the castle, so just walking from one class to another could be quite an undertaking.
The maps of the castle provided to each student, consequently, were hard to make any sense of. Dieter quickly realised that he would have just know his way around the castle than rely on the maps, so he devoted some of his spare time for the first few days to exploring the castle with his roommates – except Karkaroff, of course.
Flying and Quidditch Instruction, along with Defensive Magic soon became Dieter’s favourite classes. It was a total thrill to learn how to fly, and Dieter suspected he would never grow tired of it. Though he was clearly outclassed by those students who had grown up around brooms, he felt more confident in the air, and more willing to experiment. He was looking forward to when they would learn how to play Quidditch once the basics of flying had been mastered.
In Defensive Magic, Professor Schmidt drilled the students through many exercises, honing their aim and practicing different wand positions. Dieter wasn’t worried that they would only be using one spell (“Mordax”) for the next several months, as he found refining his technique as rewarding as learning his first hex. He discovered that his spell casting was most accurate in the Wand Arm In position. If he held his left arm out straight as a rough pointer and held his wand back alongside his right eye, he could envision an imaginary line pointing from the tip of his wand to the target. Dieter had only shot air rifle in the Deutsches Jungvolk and never done archery, but the duelling stance was vaguely reminiscent of the way an archer would shoot his bow.
“Just remember,” Professor Schmidt warned, “that though this stance usually offers greater accuracy, it restricts your freedom of movement and can make spells with more complicated wand motions difficult.”
Most of his other classes were quite interesting, or at least tolerable. Transfiguration was taught by short, bald, bearded man named Laurentius Boehm. He had low, raspy voice, but he was very friendly and patient. There was an awful lot of theory to learn in the class before they would attempt their first inanimate to inanimate object Transfiguration – a matchstick to a needle. Dieter thought he understood what was being said most of the time, but all the technical aspects of the magic sounded very confusing. Professor Boehm said that the practical side to Transfiguration was easier than the theory made it out to be, but Dieter wouldn’t believe that until he did it.
Professor Regula Reinhard was a grey-haired woman who taught Charms. With accompanying, wild hand motions, she spent many minutes of each class lecturing on the importance of the Zaubererreich’s mission, and learning Charms had something to do with it.
“I have stated this last class and I will do so again. How you perform in this class will affect more than just your marks. You students are the future of our Movement, and the knowledge you learn in this class will influence nothing less than the fate of our world! You must dedicate yourselves to your studies; you must strive to accomplish! You will become true wizards and witches; you will be shining examples to all wizardkind!”
Dieter couldn’t fathom how he and his generation would change the world, armed with the knowledge of how to turn teacups blue. But, despite Professor Reinhard’s numerous and long-winded ideological tangents, Dieter did enjoy the class. Unlike Transfiguration, they did move on to practical spell work during the first week, but that was probably because Charms was simpler than Transfiguration, as the physical properties of the objects were not being changed.
In the Deutsches Jungvolk, Dieter had learned how to navigate by the stars, so he had some familiarity with different heavenly bodies and constellations. Therefore, the practical aspect of Astronomy class that concerned locating and charting important stars and planets was a relatively simple task for Dieter. However, there was more to Durmstrang’s Astronomy class than finding north via Polaris – each star had a bewildering array of magical properties according to Professor Himmel, and the positioning of certain bodies affected earthly wizardry and even foretold the future under the right conditions. This was all very confusing, and Dieter neither cared about nor believed that some sparkling dots in the sky had some mysterious influence over him. He found himself disliking the class, in part because of the subject matter, but mostly for the fact that it was held late at night when he’d rather be sleeping. Konrad, Ernst, and most other students felt the same way.
For some strange reason, three teaspoons made up one tablespoon. Twelve inches went into a foot. Four quarts created a gallon. In addition to absurd sub-divisions of units, the measuring of certain ingredients by volume, others by weight, and some even by length compounded Dieter’s confusion. Regardless of his irritation, Dieter had to quickly familiarise himself with the totally illogical and completely nonsensical Imperial system used in Potions class if he wanted to do well. He had little enthusiasm for the class. It was too much like cooking, which was clearly girls’ work, and the fact that it was taught by a woman (a bubbly, mushy one at that) only reinforced these thoughts. Nevertheless, he did not want to disappoint himself or his parents with less-than acceptable scores, so he grudgingly put some effort into the class.
Herbology was a complete bore of a class. Dieter had little interest in what Professor Lobkovskaya had to say about magical plants, and was resistant to the concept of a Slav teaching Aryans the niceties of wizarding peasant work. Resignedly, he toiled through the tedium of Herbology every other day, regularly checking his watch and waiting for the class to end.
However, Herbology was a picnic compared to History of Magic with Professor Simonov. Ernst sometimes referred to the Slavic professor as ‘The Antichrist’, and Dieter didn’t know whether he was joking or not. It was a very fitting name for Simonov, though, as he was a total, demonic bastard. He was a hammer, and he saw all of his students as nails. Rather than engage in discussions or at least treat students as beings capable of intelligent thought, Simonov preferred to simply beat information into everyone’s’ heads. He was unrelenting. He lectured non-stop, and anyone who fell behind in their note taking or had a lapse of concentration paid dearly when grilled with questions. Dieter didn’t know if it was possible to have negative points in a class, but some scatterbrained students seemed to be heading in that direction.
Older students seemed to enjoy telling horror stories about History of Magic to the first-years. Dieter didn’t know how many of the tales were true or not, but he figured Simonov was fully capable of doing everything that had been described.
Dieter didn’t know what to do about Professor Simonov. He could just suffer through History of Magic class and answer the Slav’s interrogations the best he could, but that was simply unacceptable. That would be submission. That would be admitting defeat. How could he let that Slav just walk over everybody? How could he let that Slav teach?
He wanted to stand up to Professor Simonov. He wanted to shout at his face and curse him for being the cruel, heartless Untermensch he was. But no matter how much Simonov deserved it, Dieter’s reasoning, annoyingly, reminded him that would be a very, very stupid idea. Also, what would fighting the Professor accomplish, apart from him failing the class?
He knew he had to do something about Professor Simonov, but any moves against him looked suicidal. He couldn’t confront him. Dieter didn’t want to admit it his cowardice, but that’s what it was.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, some part of Dieter’s head said consolingly. You can’t take on every enemy by yourself right now. Besides, there’s a line between being brave and being stupid.
Fortunately, Karkaroff was much more manageable. He was someone Dieter knew he could handle on his own, quite handily. They freely traded insults of ‘Mudblood’ and ‘Untermensch’ in the days before the weekend, but did not come to blows. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement to postpone any real fighting until after their detention together. After which…
Dieter’s intention to remove the Slavs from Durmstrang was met with some doubtfulness from Konrad, and oddly enough, Ernst.
“But don’t you see how important this is?” Dieter said, trying to reason with them. “How can any self-respecting Aryan tolerate being in the presence of Untermenschen?”
Konrad shrugged his shoulders. “I completely agree that Karkaroff and Professor Simonov are complete scumbags, but do you really have to try to get every Slav out of the castle? I mean, except for those two, I don’t know any of them, and they’ve done nothing to me.”
“That’s not the point, Konrad. Let me put it this way: would you want to share a room with a bunch of disease-ridden rats? Or cockroaches?”
Konrad looked very confused. “No… I guess. I don’t like cockroaches.”
“Don’t you think you’re exaggerating a bit?” Ernst asked.
“It’s not exaggeration if it’s true.”
“Wait, how are ‘Untermenschen’ like vermin or bugs?” Konrad asked for clarification. “I thought you said they were primitive humans. Wizards were pretty primitive at one point, too.”
Dieter sighed. It was difficult to explain the finer points of racial science, and even more difficult to make wizards understand it. The subject was second nature to Dieter, as it had been taught in his school for as long as he could remember, but wizarding children apparently had no such advantage.
“I don’t mean primitive in terms of technology or knowledge – even we Aryans were cavemen once. You must have forgotten that the Untermensch is biologically inferior. People like Karkaroff and Simonov are sub-humans. They’re not even real human beings; they are animals, no different from rats and other pests.”
Konrad looked doubtful. “Well, I don’t know… Karkaroff doesn’t look like an animal. He looks like a human being, I think,”
Dieter rolled his eyes. “Of course he LOOKS like a human. But he is really an animal because he has an animals’ brain. He is biologically incapable of thinking like we do, like a proper human being. Untermenschen like Karkaroff can imitate others or be trained to perform tasks, but they cannot think for themselves. They cannot create; they can only copy. And because of their animal brain, they do not have true intelligence. They cannot reason or use logic, and cannot feel human feelings like love or obligation, and things like that.”
He could see the cogs working in Konrad’s head. “Well… I suppose that makes sense, sort of. I guess I can see that fitting Karkaroff and Professor Simonov, but what about all the other Slavs here? Some of them look kind and smart enough.”
Additional explanations didn’t seem to get the message through to Konrad. Some things the other boy understood, but for other details he was doubtful. “Could you try explaining, Ernst?” Dieter asked his fellow Muggle-born. “You might make better sense.”
Ernst replied mildly, “No, I think you’ve done a much better job than I could.”
“Look, Konrad, whether you understand it completely or not, this has to be done. We can’t let Slavs be here at Durmstrang. This castle is supposed to be a school, not a place to train animals how to do tricks. We can’t let Untermenschen intermingle with Aryans here – it’s not healthy.”
“But, you want to get every Slav out of Durmstrang Institute?” Konrad questioned. “There has to be at least a hundred of them here. How do you expect to get them to leave by yourself?”
“I don’t know how, just yet,” Dieter admitted. “But I don’t intend to do it alone. That’s why I’m asking you to help.”
He turned to Ernst. “What about you?” he asked. “Surely you see how important this is.”
“I think you are taking this too drastically,” Ernst answered after a pause. “Shouldn’t Durmstrang be a place where everyone gets an equal chance to learn magic? Have a fresh start?”
Dieter brushed Ernst’s suggestion aside irritably. “The professors here are awfully naïve to think that should apply equally to Aryans and Untermenschen. And besides, people like Karkaroff have already wasted that chance.”
Ernst said nothing and was maddeningly noncommittal.
“Well… about Karkaroff,” Konrad prompted. “I don’t think any of us like him. I don’t want him as a roommate. How about we just agree to get him out of our room at the very least, and then argue about Slavs later?”
Dieter wanted to press on and get the others to agree with him, but he reluctantly consented to Konrad’s offer. “Fine. Let’s just worry about Karkaroff for now…”
He didn’t want to aim so low, but getting Karkaroff removed as their roommate would have to suffice for the moment. However, Dieter was confident his friends would see the truth and urgency of the Slav situation, eventually.
But were they even his friends? Dieter wondered for the first time. He got along with Konrad very well, but he didn’t know what to think of Ernst. The tall, thin boy was certainly friendly enough, but he just seemed… mellow, both in personality and conviction for National Socialism. He didn’t draw attention to himself, was very restrained, and bookish. Admittedly, Dieter thought he never would have even paid much notice to Ernst at all were he not one of his roommates.
The groundskeeper was a tall man named Herr Jäger. He had a thin moustache and round spectacles, and wore a tall bulky boots and an expansive cloak with many pockets. It was with him that Dieter and Karkaroff served their detention together.
“Sorry boys, but you’ll have to hand me your wands,” he instructed. “You’ll have to do your detention the hard way, I’m afraid.”
Dieter and Karkaroff wordlessly handed Herr Jäger their wands. “Thank you,” he said. “Follow me. We’re going to the greenhouses.”
Karkaroff groaned. Though it was all downhill, it was a long walk down Cardiac Slope. Dieter wasn’t looking forward to the return journey, but he kept silent.
As they walked, the groundskeeper asked, “So, what’s your detention for, boys?”
“Nothing,” Dieter grumbled.
Karkaroff flared up. “What do you mean, nothing? You just walked up and punched me in the face!”
“So if he attacked you, Master Karkaroff, then why do you have detention too?” Herr Jäger inquired.
Dieter answered for him. “Because he’s a spiteful piece of inhumanity who keeps calling me ‘Mudblood’, sir.”
“Don’t act so innocent, Heydrich,” Karkaroff retorted. “You call me sort of part-human half-breed or whatever it is you say.”
“The term is Untermensch, you stupid Slav.” It was hugely tempting to shove Karkaroff off the path and send him tumbling down the mountainside, crashing into every tree along the way…
“Why you…” Karkaroff growled.
Herr Jäger seemed rather amused by the two boys’ arguing. “I can see why you got detention,” he commented mildly. “You boys have a lot to learn at Durmstrang.”
“Well, excuse me, sir,” Karkaroff asked in order to disengage from the insult swapping with Dieter. “But what does learning magic at Durmstrang have to do with detention?”
“I don’t mean that kind of learning. We teach more than just magic at Durmstrang Institute, boys. You will also learn how to get along with wizards who are different from you – this is very important, especially in this day and age.”
The two boys looked at each other. Cooperate with HIM? they both thought.
Herr Jäger seemed to have read the sceptical looks on their faces. “You are more similar than you realise,” he explained. “Both of you are wizards, and that is the only defining trait that matters, boys. It is your magic that gives you power and responsibility over the world’s lesser beings. We wizards mustn’t fight amongst ourselves when our energies could be better used for the greater good.”
For the greater good – Dieter heard a lot of that phrase. But what was the greater good? By Dieter’s reasoning, punching Karkaroff and getting the Slavs out of Durmstrang would qualify as an act of philanthropy.
“Ah, here we are,” the groundskeeper announced when they had reached the greenhouses. He opened the door with his wand and led the two boys inside.
It smelled strongly of manure inside. Dieter was struck by a sudden sense of foreboding…
His fears were confirmed when Jäger instructed, “You will be re-potting and adding fertilizers to all the plants in Greenhouse Three today, like thus…”
He demonstrated the technique with his wand. With some muttered spells, a turnip-like plant was pulled out of a pot and placed into a new container, which was filled with a pungent, brown material from a floating bag. He re-potted and fertilised some dozen plants in this manner, in less than twenty seconds.
“You will be doing this without wands, and your detention is over only once you two have re-potted every plant in the greenhouse. Are there any questions?”
Karkaroff was horrified. “But this will take hours! You expect me to work by hand like some Muggle?”
Herr Jäger actually smiled. “Yes, that’s the idea. I think you will come to appreciate magic a little more after this detention.” Then, with utter seriousness, “But… you should keep in mind that performing magic is a right. If you do not recognise the obligations magic entails – in your case, accepting all wizards as comrades with a common purpose – you just may find yourself with a snapped wand. Remember that.”
As far as Dieter was concerned, Karkaroff would be considered a friend and comrade when Hell froze over.
“Good luck, boys. Work hard. I’ll check in on you from time to time.” The groundskeeper locked the greenhouse door and left.
Dieter glared at Karkaroff, who replied in kind. “Let’s just get this over with,” Dieter growled.
Karkaroff yawned. “No, I’d rather sit here and let you do all the work, Mudblood.”
Dieter picked up a trowel and brandished it like a knife. “Unless you want this trowel in your eye socket, I suggest you work.”
“Fair enough,” the Slav said. He picked up some tools and headed to the opposite end of the greenhouse, as far away from Dieter as possible – he was agreeable with the Slav’s choice of position.
It was dull, dirty work. Dieter loosened the blue-leaved, turnip-like plants with the trowel and roughly dumped them into the larger pots. Careful to only touch the burlap bag and not the contents, he poured in the dried dragon dung fertiliser, with a similar lack of precision.
At some point, Dieter discovered that it was a bit easier and faster to simply turn the small pots upside-down and drop the plants into the larger planters. He didn’t know if the plants were adversely affected by rough handling, but he hardly cared.
The hours crawled by. There were a multitude of potted plants, and Dieter thought it would never end…
Slavs were cowards. True to form, Karkaroff had reported the punching incident and gotten Dieter in trouble. Why couldn’t the Slav had grown some backbone and suffered like a man? Then Dieter wouldn’t have to be in this stupid detention!
Then it occurred to Dieter that was something of a contradiction and a dilemma. A cowardly Karkaroff would be easy to face off in a fight, but would be more likely to get Dieter detention. A braver one probably wouldn’t go running to the teachers, but would offer resistance. Which Karkaroff was preferable?
Something landed on Dieter’s shoulder. Though it was mercifully dry, it STANK. Quick as a flash, he looked in the direction of where the fertiliser had come and saw Karkaroff on the other side of the planter-laden table. He was slapping fertiliser into pots with unnecessary force, flinging loose bits of the dried dragon manure (and whatever else was in it) in all directions.
Did he detect a hint of a smile on Karkaroff’s face…?
Fuming, Dieter dug his trowel into his sack of Swedish Short-Snout compost, scooped up a sizable amount, took aim, and flung it at Karkaroff’s face.
The Slav yelled in alarm. He sputtered a stream of curses in Russian or whatever language it was, and frantically brushed the manure-compost composite off his face. It was still flecked with little brown bits when he looked up at Dieter, enraged.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Karkaroff demanded.
“What about you?” Dieter shot right back. “You threw that fertiliser at me and it landed on my shoulder!”
“You hit me in the FACE!” the Slav yelled as he scooped up some fertiliser ammunition with his trowel. Dieter ducked to avoid the projectile.
At that moment, Herr Jäger had decided to check on the two boys. “Petrificus Totalus!” he yelled, and suddenly Karkaroff went as stiff as a board. Before Dieter could laugh at the Slav’s predicament, he too felt his arms snap to his sides and his body go rigid.
The groundskeeper walked over and undid the spells. “Now, would you mind telling me why I found you two boys throwing dragon dung at each other?”
Levelly, Dieter said, “It was Karkaroff, sir. I was re-potting the plants when he threw some of the dung at me. I threw some back, and it grew from there.”
“What? I was just minding my own business and then you decided to throw manure into my face!”
Jäger could not determine the guilty party. “I do not care who started it. The fact is, you boys were fighting during your detention for fighting! I think you’ll need some more persuading to get along.”
The groundskeeper waved his wand and all of the re-potted plants – all of them – vomited their contents into the air. Dieter watched in horror as several hours of his labour was reversed.
“Start over,” Herr Jäger ordered. “No more fighting. If you work really hard and don’t make any more trouble, you might finish just before sundown.”
The two boys deliberately avoided each other’s gaze after that. They worked like men possessed, not wanting to stay in the greenhouses for any longer than necessary.
Dieter noticed that Karkaroff was still digging out the blue turnip plants with his trowel. It was slow and inefficient…
“What do you want?” the Slav asked when the Aryan approached him.
Still avoiding eye contact, Dieter said quickly, “There’s a quicker way to do that. Just turn the pot upside-down and dump the contents into the bigger planter. Then just put the plant right side-up and fill it with the fertiliser.” Without waiting for any kind of response or reaction from Karkaroff, Dieter turned back and went to his corner of the greenhouse.
Every fifteen minutes to half an hour or so, Herr Jäger appeared, peered through the glass, and left. Dieter and Karkaroff deliberately kept their distance, not wanting another setback to completing their detention.
It was getting dark. The hours seemed to stretch on forever, but at long last, the last pot was completed.
“Very good, boys,” the groundskeeper said, returning their wands. “You may go now.”
They made the arduous climb up Cardiac Slope. It was much harder than their first time off the Durmstrang ship, since they were tired from all of the work in the greenhouse. Dieter managed to stay ahead of the Slav, and reached dormitory 6J first. He wasted no time in getting to the shower.
Dieter and Karkaroff (and the other Slav who tended to be with him) avoided each other for the next few days. They both wanted to settle scores, but the threat of another unpleasant detention kept them from doing anything drastic… for a little while. Soon enough, they were openly insulting each other and prodding nerves. In a strange way, the feuding became a routine for the both of them, just as much as attending each class.
Towards the end of his second week at Durmstrang Institute, classes were interrupted by an announcement. The Rector’s amplified, slightly squeaky voice was somehow heard in every classroom: “Attention all instructors and students. Please assemble in the Great Hall for an important message.”
“What the hell is that balding man thinking, interrupting my class?” Professor Simonov blurted angrily. “This is my time, damn it!”
Nobody in History of Magic shared Simonov’s sentiments. Christmas had come early for everyone in his class, and they all hastened to leave (“Don’t run in the classroom!”).
“What do you think this is about?” Dieter asked.
Konrad shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Must be important.”
They found some seats in the Great Hall. Crowded around them were few faces Dieter recognised, as they were mostly older students. Within a few more minutes, the Hall was filled.
Professor Odoaker placed a large wireless set on the head table. Dieter was surprised by the presence of a piece of Muggle technology, and he learned that wizards did indeed use such sets.
But the Deputy Rector tapped the wireless with his wand, and suddenly the device relayed sound louder and clearer than any set Dieter had encountered.
“…Thank you for the update, Julius,” a reporter said. “And for those of you tuning in right now, there is some confusion and anticipation towards the Zaubererreich Kanzler’s imminent emergency address. A crowd of several hundred wizards and witches has gathered in Gellert Grindelwald Platz to witness the Chancellor’s speech.”
“Any ideas on what it could be about?”
“I don’t know for sure, and I would guess that the answer is held only by the Revolutionary Vanguard and Chancellor Grindelwald himself, currently. However, the breakdown of communications in Poland is a likely subject. There are some confusing reports coming from the region.”
“Is there any word about what those reports detail?”
“The Ministry of Public Information is most likely trying to make sense of them as we speak, Wilhelm. I suspect they are the topic of Chancellor Grindelwald’s address…”
The two reporters talked for a few minutes about something in Poland that neither knew anything about. Dieter had his own theories – the wizarding newspapers spoke of great German advances into Poland in the current Muggle war (the accuracy of the general events if not the details was confirmed by some of Father’s letters), so the speech might have something to do with that.
“Wizard and witch listeners, we now have Gellert Grindelwald, Chancellor of the Second Zaubererreich.”
A loud cheer came out of the wireless set as a crowd of people many kilometres away greeted their leader. Dieter noticed that some people in the Great Hall were cheering too, oblivious to how silly it was. Though Grindelwald had no way of hearing anyone in the Hall, it was the gesture that counted, Dieter supposed.
The room went silent when the wizarding Chancellor spoke.
“Wizards and witches of the Zaubererreich, of Europe, and the World. I speak to you now not as a politician, not as a Chancellor, but as a citizen of world wizardry. For decades I have spoken of the necessity of all wizards and witches to forsake their rivalries, to recognise their common bonds of magic, and to unite in the pursuit of common goals. And now, more than ever, this is the path that all wizardkind must take.
From the beginning of this month of September, the continent of Europe has been subjected to the ravages of Muggle warfare. New and terrible weapons have been unleashed. Unspeakable acts of barbarism have transpired. Once again, Mugglekind has surrendered itself to the madness of war, heedless of the inevitable devastation to the land and suffering of millions. But we wizards and witches were not concerned with the battles of Muggles. We were confident in our security. We believed that these Muggle conflicts could not affect us. With a heavy heart, I announce that this thinking was wrong.
The unthinkable occurred early this morning in Poland, at around five o’clock, Warsaw time. The destruction of the Muggle war has visited the city, and in the course of this fighting, a stray explosive weapon struck the Polish Department of Magic. Though the headquarters of the Polish magical government was hidden from Muggle view, its concealment was not enough to protect it from the blast.
Fifteen wizards and witches lost their lives this morning. Fifteen magical people, just like you and me. Fifteen wizards and witches with futures and potentials. Fifteen innocent souls, slaughtered by the indiscriminate barbarity of Muggle warfare! And this is not counting the dozens of injured, maimed, and those hanging to life by a thread!
Our hearts go out to the victims of this tragedy, and we pray that the casualty list does not grow. Let us observe a moment of silence for the slain…”
The Chancellor sombrely read a list of names – they were all in Polish. There was complete quietude for a minute after Grindelwald finished the casualty list with “Augustyn Zawadzki.” The atmosphere in the Great Hall was morose and grim, but… Dieter couldn’t understand why Grindelwald should be so worried about the deaths of some Slavs.
“Thank you,” the Zaubererreich Kanzler said. “May the fallen wizards and witches never be forgotten, and I offer my deepest condolences to the victims’ families. I wish the new Polish provisional Minister for Magic, Włodzimierz Kaczmarek, the best of luck in pulling his government through this crisis.
Whether we like it or not, all of wizardkind has been affected by this disaster in Warsaw. Wizardkind is no longer safe from the wars of Muggles. Those people seek and devise ever more terrible weapons; weapons of greater destructive power than Erumpet horn fluid or even the strongest Blasting Curses. These weapons are as indiscriminate as they are powerful, and as the world has witnessed today, they care not whether they murder Muggles or wizards. With the continent of Europe plunged into Muggle war, there is no telling where good magical blood will next be shed. No wizard or witch is safe.
More than ever, all wizardkind must find common cause and unite to secure our future as a people. The cowardice of world wizardry must end! The apathy of centuries must perish! We will be steadfast, and we will not stand for these Muggle transgressions! We will not tolerate the spilling of innocent magical blood!”
The crowd gathered in Gellert Grindelwald Platz roared their approval, and their shouts coming from the wireless set mixed with those of the students in the Great Hall.
“My conviction for peace speaks for all wizardkind. But peace and safety for our world requires us to act, and ACT we will! We are firm in our beliefs! We are not afraid of the challenges the future will bring to all wizarding people. Whatever the costs; whatever the obstacles, we will bring peace to this earth! The journey will be long and full of hardships, but we will work tirelessly for the GREATER GOOD!”
A great shout filled the Hall, an answer the leader’s call. Dieter didn’t have time to think about Grindelwald’s words. His thoughts were drowned out by the roaring slogan, and the only action that made sense was to shout too.
“For the greater good!”
“FOR THE GREATER GOOD!”
“FOR THE GREATER GOOD!”
Thanks to PhoenixAlthor for the illustration, and Molly (OliveOil_Med) for commissioning it!
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