Chapter 8 of Deathly Hallows ends with the following line:

"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."

A few lines in to the next chapter, we're told this:

Guests were sprinting in all directions; many were Disapparating; the protective enchantments around the Burrow had broken.

How does this follow? This answer gives us some idea of how the protections were broken, but not how it was done so quickly. So, why did the protections drop this fast? And how did the guests instantly know that they had, allowing them to Disapparate?

The best explanation that I could find is this exchange in chapter 11, but it doesn't seem to explain anything more than how the Death Eaters are getting away with using Unforgivable Curses. I can't think of any other "brutal spells" that would be of relevance to them getting arrested or not while trying to break the protective enchantments.

"The Death Eaters got through all those protective charms?" Harry asked [...]
"What you’ve got to realize, Harry, is that the Death Eaters have got the full might of the Ministry on their side now," said Lupin. "They’ve got the power to perform brutal spells without fear of identification or arrest. They managed to penetrate every defensive spell we’d cast against them, and once inside, they were completely open about why they’d come."

  • Possible duplicate: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/21077/15363 Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 15:18
  • 1
    @PrisonMonkeys There's some overlap but it's not total. For example, that question doesn't ask about how the events happened so quickly or how the guests obtained instant knowledge of the protections dropping.
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 15:26
  • @PrisonMonkeys Will edit to reflect anyway.
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 15:31
  • 2
    detection is probably the main thing - with no fear of law enforcement coming down on them, no matter what they do, they have free reign to do whatever they want. Also - we know that Animagi have to register with the Ministry. It's possible, sort of like in the real world (in the US at least), you are supposed to register firearms and certain types of weapons with the authorities, certain protections may need to be registered with the Ministry - thus, if the Ministry falls to an enemy, those defensive spells used are now known and able to be countered
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


We don't know how quickly the protections have fallen

All we know is that Shacklebolt has sent his Patronus. We don't know the timeline of events at the Ministry - or even if he sent the Patronus directly or a bit later, after making sure he himself was save. We also know that it takes some time for the patronus to travel to its destination, so we have to keep that in mind.

The Death Eaters were prepared

From the answer you linked we know that the Death Eaters were waiting for the ministry to fall, to use its power to undo enchantments:

“Where are they going to hide the boy next?”

“At the home of one of the Order,” said Snape. “The place, according to the source, has been given every protection that the Order and Ministry together could provide. I think that there is little chance of taking him once he is there, my Lord, unless, of course, the Ministry has fallen before next Saturday, which might give us the opportunity to discover and undo enough of the enchantments to break through the rest.”

We don't know the specifics of the protections, so we can't say for sure how long it takes to break through them, but to my knowledge, there is nothing in the canon that would contradict the possibility of an instantaneous, remote disabling of at least some of the protections.

We also know that the Death Eaters have infiltrated the ministry, so it might have been just a matter of mere minutes after the fall of the ministry for the Death Eaters to do their deed:

"I assure you, Yaxley, the Auror Office will play no further part in the protection of Harry Potter. The Order believes that we have infiltrated the Ministry."
"The Order's got one thing right then, eh?" said a squat man sitting a short distance from Yaxley.

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 1: The Dark Lord Ascending)

There are many ways how people could have detected that the protections have been broken

There are at least two possible explanations how people could have noticed that the protections have been broken.

One, there is a spell which is able to tell whether or not someone is "in grave peril" - we see it in use on the Weasly clock. Granted, the clock itself is not reliable and always points to "in grave peril" - but it's not unlikely that this is due to the fact that it has been enchanted in peaceful times and is therefore oversensitive - it would then be just a matter of fine-tuning the underlying charm to make it work reliably in times of the Dark Lord.

If that's too far-fetched for you, then there is another explanation: A protection against Apparation on the Weasly grounds was part of the protection. In fact, all of the guests enter the Weasly premises on foot:

Brightly coloured figures were appearing, one by one, out of nowhere at the distant boundary of the yard. Within minutes a procession had formed, which began to snake its way up through the garden towards the marquee.

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Eight: The Wedding)

So all it takes is one person disapparating with the signature crack to tell everyone that the protections have fallen. Either someone has tried it out of desparation, or, at least equally likely, someone has forgotten about the restrictions - because after the Patronus left, a panic broke out:

Many people were only just realising that something strange had happened; heads were still turning towards the silver cat as it vanished. Silence spread outwards in cold ripples from the place where the Patronus had landed. Then somebody screamed.

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Nine: A Place to Hide)

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