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In DH chapter 11, Lupin says, "I'd have been here three days ago but I needed to shake off the Death Eater tailing me." But then later in the chapter, Lupin says, "It's impossible to track anyone who Apparates, unless you grab hold of them as they disappear!"

Why on earth did it take him three days to get away? All he had to do was Apparate, and he'd be free and clear!

I can only think of a few reasons why he wouldn't just Apparate away, and none of them really hold up:

  • It would make sense if he didn't know how to Apparate. But we know he does -- it's mentioned, once again, in that same chapter: "I had to Apparate very precisely onto the top step outside the front door..."
  • Perhaps he was in an area where Apparation was blocked, like it was in Hogsmeade later in the book. But then there surely would have been more than just one Death Eater after him -- they wouldn't bother setting up an anti-Apparation charm just to leave it understaffed.
  • Or maybe the Death Eater was close enough to him, at every moment during those seventy-two hours, to be able to grab him if he Apparated. But that's ridiculous -- then the Death Eater could just grab him anyway.

Why did it take Lupin three days to get away, when he could have just Apparated at any time?

17

There is no canon explanation I could find - not in the books, NOR any JKR interviews etc (searching for apparate/apparation).... Confirmed by the fact that this specific issue is listed in HP Wikia's list of mistakes in Harry Potter Books.

It may eventually get addressed on Potterore or supposedly-coming-encyclopedia; but as of now, there's only speculation.


However, I'm not entirely sure how accurate Lupin's information is about tracking:

Question: How does the wizarding world protect Muggle banks and vaults, etc. from wizards apparating into them and stealing the contents?
J.K. Rowling responds: Well, the Ministry of Magic keeps tabs on people apparating. That's why you have to have a license to do it, and the moment you abuse it you can find yourself in serious trouble (or Azkaban!).
(Src: "About the Books: transcript of J.K. Rowling's live interview on Scholastic.com," Scholastic.com, 16 October 2000)

This can be read a number of ways, but I am interpreting it as the fact that a random person can not track an apparating wizard while pursuing them, BUT the Ministry could track anyone (possibly, in some defined areas, e.g. around Privet Drive - which is why Harry could not be apparated out of there at the start of DH).

This would explain the discrepancy - at the time Voldemort controlled the Ministry and Death Eaters could track apparations, but not everywhere; and therefore it took Lupin 3 days to get to a place where it wasn't trackable. But that's just my interpretation.

  • 4
    Of course if the Ministry is tracking apparation why not track Harry etc. directly? – Richard Jul 18 '12 at 11:14
  • 3
    I had thought maybe they could track who was Apparating and where from, but not where to; but you're right, in DH Ch4 Moody says, "He's made it an imprisonable offense to ... Apparate in or out," so they can track the destination too. Perhaps this level of tracking takes a special charm cast on a specific location, but if so, Moody didn't mention it. And if they could track Apparitions at all, you'd think they'd have done it on Hogsmeade, so they'd know for sure it was Harry. You're right, it just doesn't seem consistent. – Joe White Jul 18 '12 at 12:01
  • Excellent answer. Another speculative point is that Apparition requires the 3 D's - Destination, Determination and Deliberation. I say this because Lupin may have had a bunch of destinations prepared in his head to allow him to apparate safely, those destinations may have been compromised by the "tracker". – Möoz Oct 28 '15 at 1:42
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A further suggestion: Tracking an Apparating wizard is not a general Ministerial function but specifically a special skill learned only by the most senior Aurors. Otherwise one would then have to ask, why weren't the Death Eaters tracking Harry, Ron, and Hermione while they were Apparating all over the place while on the run during Deathly Hallows? Whereas if only senior Aurors could do it - and one presumes Aurors would side against Voldemort - then the Death Eaters wouldn't be able to track anyone that way after taking over the Ministry. [note: the fact that they were watching around Grimmauld Place doesn't count against this notion, since Snape could have pointed them there, or at least to the precise street]

  • > note: the fact that they were watching around Grimmauld Place doesn't count against this notion, since Snape could have pointed them there, or at least to the precise street They were there because the Taboo had activated after both Harry and Hermione used Voldemort's name. – Siddhartha Feb 25 at 19:40

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