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Floo Network

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Ministry of Magic officals using the Floo Network

"In use for centuries, the Floo Network, while somewhat uncomfortable, has many advantages. Firstly, unlike broomsticks, the Network can be used without fear of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy. Secondly, unlike Apparition, there is little to no danger of serious injury. Thirdly, it can be used to transport children, the elderly and the infirm."
—Description[src]
The Floo Network is a mode of transportation in the wizarding world in which a witch or wizard goes from one place to another by means of Floo powder and a fireplace. Many fireplaces are connected in the Floo Network, and the traveller need only speak the desired fireplace they wish to arrive at very clearly as they stand in the emerald green flames.

History

The most notorious instance of accidental misdirection regarding the Floo Network happened in 1855 when, after a particularly nasty row with her husband, witch Violet Tillyman leapt into the living room fire and cried, between sobs and hiccups, that she wanted to go to her mother’s house.[1]

Several weeks later, with no clean pots in the house and his socks in urgent need of washing, her husband Albert decided that it was time she came home, and took the Floo Network to his mother-in-law’s. To his surprise, she claimed that Violet had never arrived. Albert, a suspicious man and a bit of a bully, raged, stormed and searched the house, but his mother-in-law appeared to be telling the truth. A poster campaign and a series of articles in the Daily Prophet later, Violet had still not been found. Nobody seemed to know where she was and nobody had seen her come out of any other fireplace. For several months after her disappearance, people were afraid to take the Floo Network, in case it simply vanished them into thin air. However, time passed, memories of Violet faded, and nobody else disappeared, so the wizarding community continued as usual. Albert Tillyman returned grumpily to his house, learned cleaning and darning spells, and never used the Floo Network again for fear of what it had done to his wife.[2]

It was not until twenty years later, after Albert’s death, that Violet Tillyman resurfaced. Due to the incoherent way she had spoken when she had entered the Floo Network, she had not emerged from her mother’s fireplace, but that of Myron Otherhaus, a handsome wizard who lived in Bury St Edmunds. In spite of Violet’s tear-stained, ash-covered and blotchy appearance, it had been love at first sight when she toppled out of his fire, and Myron, Violet and their seven children lived happily ever after.[3]

Regulation and usage

The network is governed by the Floo Network Authority, a section of the Department of Magical Transportation of the Ministry of Magic. This department is located on Level Six of the Ministry. The Floo Network Authority controls which fireplaces are connected to the Floo Network, which requires specialized magic. Travelling by way of the Floo Network can be done without specialised magic, and can be preferable for wizards too young to Apparate or those without access to other forms of transportation, such as broomsticks.

Nearly every witch or wizard home is connected to the Floo Network. While a fireplace may be disconnected by the use of a simple spell, connection requires the permission of the Ministry of Magic, which regulates the Floo service and prevents Muggle fireplaces becoming inadvertently joined up (although temporary connection can be arranged in emergencies).

In addition to domestic fireplaces, there are around a thousand fireplaces across Britain connected to the Floo Network, including those at the Ministry of Magic, and various wizarding shops and inns. The fireplaces of Hogwarts are not generally connected, although there have been occasions when one or more has been tampered with, often without the staff’s knowledge.

Description

Body transport

This network connects all wizarding fireplaces that utilise Floo powder as a mode of transportation. Muggle homes are not connected to the Floo Network unless special, temporary arrangements are made, which do not require that the Authority visit the location. The connection can be made from the Ministry of Magic.

To access the network, one must toss a handful of Floo Powder into a fireplace, walk into the heatless, emerald green fire, and declare the desired destination. It is apparently also important for the traveller to keep their elbows close to their body. During the trip, the traveller will notice other fireplaces and hearths zooming past, but it is not possible for the traveller to see these locations clearly as the speed of travel is too great.

Head-only transport

Sirius fire

Sirius Black communicating through the fire when there are flames in it

One may also use the Floo Network to speak to someone in another location by merely putting their head through the green fire, as Sirius Black did to talk to Harry in latter's fourth and fifth years at Hogwarts. The Floo Network can also be used to transport inanimate objects. For example: In 1994, Molly Weasley used the fire tongs to put a piece of toast into Amos Diggory's mouth while he was talking to Arthur Weasley via the Floo Network after the Quidditch World Cup incident.[4]

As Sirius Black could use the fire to talk to Harry in fourth and fifth year, but in Harry's sixth year, a special arrangement had to be made from the Ministry to enable students to arrive at Hogwarts, it seems that head-only transport is possible even if human transportation is not. Otherwise, intruders, including Sirius Black, could simply use the fire in the common room to circumvent the castle's defences.

Known uses

  • Tumblr mtncpg9Xnb1rhjaiio2 250

    Harry Potter travelling by Floo powder for the first time

    Harry Potter first travelled via the Floo Network in 1992 when he journeyed from the Burrow to London. However, instead of saying "Diagon Alley", Harry was nervous and said "diagonally". Therefore he accidentally ended up at Borgin and Burkes in Knockturn Alley.
  • In 1994, the Floo Network was temporarily connected to the Dursley's, as a favour to Arthur Weasley, so that he could transport Harry back to The Burrow in preparation of the upcoming trip to the 1994 Quidditch World Cup that Harry would be attending with the Weasley family and Hermione. The Dursley's, however, had an electric fire and Arthur Weasley had to blast open the fireplace to get out because he was stuck in there with Ron, Fred and George.
  • In 1996, Harry used the Floo Network connection in Dolores Umbridge's office to contact Sirius Black at 12 Grimmauld Place, as her fireplace was one of the only ones not being monitored. Harry attempted to contact Sirius a second time on 17 June, but was caught by Umbridge while speaking to Kreacher.
  • At the end of the Christmas holidays in Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, numerous students including Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys, used the Floo Network to travel back to Hogwarts.
  • In 1997, when the Ministry was overthrown by Lord Voldemort, only the homes and offices of senior Ministry officials were connected to the Network.

Known Floo Network connections

Sirius fire-0

Sirius speaking to Harry through the fire in the Common Room.

See also

Behind the scenes

Author's comments

"‘Floo’ came from the flue that you find on a chimney and don’t ask me to tell you exactly what a flue is, because I don’t know. I just know it exists, but I’m not sure what it does exactly. I needed a way for particularly young witches and wizards to travel around because I’d created the International Statute of Secrecy, which was inconvenient, so immediately that made it quite difficult for them to move around, particularly over long distances, by magical means. So I thought they need something very discreet, and that’s how the Floo Network came about, so it was a way of moving from house to house without ever being seen by Muggles. But it was fun and comical to have it a little bit difficult to use, so that you could easily make a mistake in where you ended up."

Appearances

Notes and references

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