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Harry Potter and the Demon Bowler, Part Two (A) - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Harry Potter and the Demon Bowler, Part Two (A)

A very happy All Hallows Eve to you all.  Here beginneth the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Demon Bowler, for your delectation on this auspicious (or ominous) day.

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Part Two begins...

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PART TWO

Within five years of the day on which Harry Potter had left Privet Drive forever, a series of changes had occurred in Dudley Dursley’s life: changes that would never have been imaginable for or to the Dudley Dursley whose parents had warped his character from birth; changes that were potential only in the Dudley Dursley who, himself leaving Privet Drive as the fate of the world hung poised upon a point of agate, had thought to thank his cousin Harry and to wish him well.

 

Within three years of Harry’s victory, Dudley, to Vernon’s mingled satisfaction and annoyance, had obtained a plate-glass university degree: a BSc in Sport Sciences from Brunel University.  Vernon should have preferred him to obtain a degree, and one from a university, that conferred upon the Dursleys greater opportunity to swank and put on side.  He should also have been much happier had Dudders managed a joint honours course that had comprehended, say, Sport Sciences with Business Studies, by God.  On the other hand, that Ickle Diddykins had managed a university education of any sort, and any degree at all, had been a great relief.

 

Within five years of Harry’s triumph, Dudley was a married man, married to a young woman who quite thoroughly outraged the elder Dursleys’s sense of suburban propriety.  To her credit, Elspeth was very much a cut above the Dursleys and all their acquaintance, as who, indeed, was not: a jolly-hockey-sticks Old Girl who had ended up at Brunel, for all her St Trinian’s sort of background, due to a quite invincible distaste for those odd academic buildings that had inexplicably been attached to the playing fields of her youth.  Curiously enough, when given her head at university, she had embraced her chosen field, and had done herself credit in attaining her BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy qualifications and her NHS, CSP, and NHC registrations.  She had also kept Dudley up to the mark for all that time and through and since their marriage, such that he was nowadays a fit, healthy, muscular, and remarkably calm and contented man: Elspeth Dursley was a born Matron.

 

Petunia detested her.

 

Partly this was due to Elspeth’s clear, if unspoken, condemnation of how Dudley had grown up, over-indulged to the point of having had his health, both physical and mental, endangered; Elspeth’s management of her husband, as a man nothing like his father, was a standing rebuke to Petunia’s mothering.  Partly, of course, Petunia’s dislike of her daughter-in-law was the result of Petunia’s envy and social insecurity: whilst it was nice to have a daughter-in-law whose social background shed a reflected light upon the Dursleys, it was far better that that daughter-in-law be a remote lay-figure whose name one might drop in Mrs Number Eight’s hearing, than that she actually appear of a Sunday for tea, and make one feel all over thumbs and bumptiousness.

 

Vernon, for his part, considered Elspeth soft and impractical, and responsible for the wholly unsuitable way in which Dudley had turned his back upon a nice, safe job in industry or perhaps running a chain of boxing gymnasia where budding Corinthians might spill one another’s claret in the best Smeltings tradition.

 

But the primary reason for the elder Dursleys’s horrified disapproval of Elspeth was simplicity itself.  For Elspeth Dursley, née Bulstrode, was a Squib, and second cousin to Millicent of that name.  It was as if a dread Nemesis waited upon the Evans and Dursley lines, and they forever bound to have those miserable freaks marrying into the family.  And when Harriet Dursley was born in due course to Elspeth and Dudley, Vernon and Petunia feared the worst, and quite soon, to their paralysed horror and the proud glee of Harriet’s namesake, uncle, and godfather, the worst came, with Harriet’s first showings of accidental magic.

 

By that time, Dudley Dursley was a well-regarded staff member of Headway UK’s London office (he’d seen more than his share of brain insult and head injury in the ring, such that he’d leapt at the chance to work for the charity), and Elspeth had been headhunted as an administrator for the Physiotherapy Unit of the Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust.  And Elspeth, Dudley, and the quite surprisingly pretty infant Harriet, were regular and welcome visitors wherever Harriet’s Uncle Harry might be found.

 

It came as little surprise, then, that, Justin’s hurried machinations with his cousin Heneage and the ADCs of Prince Edward’s suite having resulted in Headway Dorset’s being chosen as the charity in aid of which the festival match was to be played, the newly-minted working trustee of the national charity who was given the task of showing the flag at the match should have been one Dudley Dursley.

__________________________________________________

It is a curious characteristic of magical objects that they seem often to have minds of their own: the Sorting Hat, for one, and, to the enduring annoyance of the Goblins, Godric’s sword.  They certainly have some capacity for showing up when and where they are needed, wherever they were last left.  And there are no magical objects so heavily enchanted, so powerful, and so wilful as the Hallows of Britain.  Not even Albus had realised their full potential, for not even Albus had united them.  Only Harry Potter, descended in right line from Ignotus Peverell, having the reversion of the heirlooms of Antioch and of Cadmus, had ever held mastery of all three of the Hallows at once, and become master of Death and time.

 

For all Harry’s intentions to cast the Hallows to the four winds so that they should never again become a snare and a delusion, the Hallows had had other plans, and the Master of the Hallows was himself bound by and to them in turn.  The Resurrection Stone had declined to remain lost and unfound, and had insistently reappeared in Harry’s possession, repaired and whole.  The Cloak of course had remained with him always.  And the Elder Wand, the Wand of Destiny, was no more confined forever to the White Tomb than was Godric’s blade to the wall of the Headmistress’s office.  These objects might be stored in a place, but they appeared when and where and as their master had need of them, and those times and places were not always of their masters’s choosing.

 

So it was no surprise at all that Minerva McGonagall should arrive at Pottersfield on the Monday, after tea, to assure herself of what the curiously-wrought silver instruments in her office had signalled to her.

 

‘Minerva!’  Harry was in a teasing mood.  ‘Come awa’ ben; ye’ll have had your tea.’

 

‘I imagine,’ said she, repressively, refusing the gambit, ‘that you can guess at the reason for my presence.’

 

‘You’re here to visit your first-favourite old student, of course.’

 

‘No, Mr Potter,’ she riposted, ‘I’m here to see you.’

 

Harry laughed, and poured her a dram of single-malt Firewhisky.  ‘Well, here I am, Headmistress.’

 

‘Aye.  And I doubt me, hae you suddenly found yersel’, once mair, unexpectedly possessit o’ twa wands, lad?’

 

‘Damn,’ said Harry.  He rucked about in his robes, and his face fell.  ‘Bloody thing’s turned up again, yes.  Why the blasted object won’t stop in Albus’s tomb where I replace it again and again….’

 

‘So long as it is you who has it, Mr Potter.  Or, perhaps, so long as you are he whom it has.’

 

‘Alas – to borrow from Albus – so it is.  I take it you were alerted by one of those devilishly complex and unfathomable silver toys of Albus’s?  Umm, yes.  You might easily have firecalled, you know, or sent a Patronus message.’

 

‘I might hae done.  But then I’d not have been given a dram.’

 

‘Minerva!’

 

‘Or been able to suggest that you have Ollivander in to talk about the incident.  The Elder Wand kens well when it maun be used, Harry, and certainly there’s nae risk of its being taken as a prize by a Muggle, even were you o’ercome yersel’.  Och, the young aye know best, ye need but ask them and they’ll say as much, but if you will take my advice, despite my age and for all my years and experience, ye’ll summon Ollivander and consult that man, how best to use yon cammelt, waefu’, wanchancie thing.’

__________________________________________________

When forced to go up to London, and not forced by crisis and exigency to apparate, portkey, or floo, Harry preferred either to take to his broom, or to avail himself of the Wizarding train system – the secret network of railways that had been restored to a solely Wizarding use by a wave of Dr Beeching’s wand.  From the halt at Twatford Mulliner to the last fields between Baulking and Challow, he would look with interest at the doings of his neighbours and fellow farmers.  Thereafter, he looked with fascination upon the increasing instances of industry, as, heading eastwards, he approached its fringes at Grove Wick, just before the A338 passed over the line, with the sewage works to the northwards and an industrial estate to southwards.  This, he always felt, with a quiver of excitement, formed the first few bars of the symphony of labour and manufacture, a symphony few others of all his acquaintance could hear.  After Didcot, the strains of the new ever swelled, the tempo driving relentlessly, intricate harmonies played fortissimo: the countryside was now behind him, and the land was now less Lark Rise to Candleford than Lent Rise to Cippenham.  Even the industrial estate between Slough and Langley, hard by Little Whinging, in which Grunnings had their lair, was to him, now, an occasion of mild interest and not of old hurts remembered.

 

Particularly now, after his years in the Wizarding world, Harry was a firm, if sometimes lonely, advocate for industry and innovation: his most reliable allies in that endeavour being Hermione, naturally enough, and, still more naturally, the recovering George, who, as he had emerged from his grief and shock, had thrown himself into the wildest realms of invention with as wild an abandon. 

 

And so it was that Harry, on railway journeys, marvelled at the boundless ingenuity of Muggle industry.  Trading estates, trafficking in sheet metal and plumbing fixtures, model aeroplanes and milling machines; trading estates, housing fish processors and fibreglass manufacturers, veterinary surgeries and dealers in used Jags. Industrial estates, whose featureless facades concealed makers of pork pies and distributors of carburettors, printers and purveyors of industrial filtration devices, ropewalks and sausage-makers.  It was to Dye Urn Alley as Brunel’s works and British Rail had been to a model railway, and, to Harry, endlessly fascinating.  He had that cast of mind.

 

And that is why, today, he was simply Uncle Harry, strolling along Silver Street and then along the High, with one hand gripped tightly by an excited Hugo Weasley, whose other paw was firmly in the competent grasp of his Uncle George. Hugo, although an equable and obliging child by nature, shared something of Harry’s interests, and was, like Uncle Harry (and, indeed, Uncle George), readily intrigued to the point of trembling exhilaration by How Things Worked.  Hugo’s temperament and cast of mind was the inevitable result of his combining Hermione’s questing thirst for knowledge with Ron’s craft, stolid pragmatism, and abiding interest in such tangibles as, say, food. 

 

Earlier, Hugo, in accordance with a perhaps rash parental promise, had been taken by Uncle Harry to visit Mr Fouracre-the-Farmer, and had soaked up, sponge-like, the conversation: ‘very well set’, ‘a very competent udder, Mr Fouracre’, ‘well, well, very nice indeed, Mr Fouracre, very sound: when she calves, do let me know’: for Hugo had been promised a Devon calf for his very own. And now, Uncle George and Uncle Harry were taking him to the butcher’s, that fascinating place.

 

Harry smiled.  Young Hugo’s enthusiasms made for excellent cover.  Assuredly, he’d business with Mr Goodfellow – uncle to Applegate the Shrewd and brother to the smith, Robert Cyril Goodfellow – yet this making the rounds of the shops: Goodfellow the Butcher, Goodenough the Greengrocer, Old Mrs Bramble, vice Old Mother Garlick, who was now pensioned off, the Sub-Postmistress, all the Happy Families of the village: had another purpose as well, one which would be performed also by Draco in the parish and down the local.  Mr Goodfellow wasn’t a man for gossip – unlike Old Mrs Bramble, notoriously a pillar of indiscretion, and Pococke, the jobbing gardener, an inexhaustible fount of misinformation – but his patrons could be relied upon to spread the word with supersonic rapidity.

 

Naturally, given what Draco admitted to himself – but assuredly to no one else, although Harry was perfectly aware of the fact, and privately amused by it – given what was Draco’s invariable tendency to Get Things Slightly Wrong when dealing with Muggles, it fell to Harry to spread the word through the High Street shops.  (There had been the memorable incident in which Draco, asking advice of Mr Goodfellow with reference to an alternative to the traditional Sunday joint, had completely mistaken the good butcher’s meaning when he had said, ‘Oi tell ’ee what you want, Mizter Malvoy, what you want of a Zunday avternoon is you-err zauzage in zoider’, which had ended in general embarrassment.)

 

‘Mizter Harry.  And thick yere – can that be Mazter Hugo?  Ah, how they do zprout up, to be zure.’  A long experience of dealing with tourists and trippers had confirmed Mr Goodfellow in the wisdom of a cunning retention of a rural accent.

 

‘Say hullo to Mr Goodfellow, Hugo. George, you recall Mr Goodfellow?  Your cousin, Mr Ayliffe, plays for the KSSC Sunday XI, doesn’t he?’

 

‘Zo he do, Mizter Harry.  Avter Zunday lazt, Oi don’t know az how you do want to worrit, mind.’

 

‘Ah. Well, about that.  Malfoy and I, and Young Hugo’s father and Hugo’s Uncle Bill, have been roped in to a charity match, as being on strength for the Wessex Wanderers, against your cousin’s lot on Wednesday next.  I’ve already promised your nephew David that we’ll take copious notes for Sunday fortnight.  The thing is, we’re all of us decamping to Pottersfield for the interim, getting into training and whatnot.  Now, I know Mr Ayliffe is a reliable butcher in his own right, with whom I’ll be speaking regarding the catering for the charity match, and my chap in Potterton Mallet is sound, but what have you that I’ll want to bring along whilst we’re stopping in Darkest Somerset?  I’ve a good number of mouths to feed….’

 

Typically, the honest Mr Goodfellow insisted that it would be a disservice to ‘Mr Harry’ to sell him any ham, gammon, or mutton, on the grounds that Mr Harry’s own home-cure and the product of Mr Harry’s own beasts couldn’t be bettered.  Equally typically, in keeping with the course of village negotiations since time immemorial, the conversation ended in Mr Goodfellow’s arranging to provide a very profitable quantity of meat, from chipolatas to topside, to Harry and to the Wanderers for the festival fixture.

 

And most typically of all, as intended, the news of the charity match, its details, and the temporary removal to Pottersfield of Potter, Malfoy, and all their friends now stopping at Sutton Littlecombe, had reached everyone in the village and was being disseminated in Twatford Mulliner, Starveall, and Stoney Down, before Hugo and his Uncles George and Harry had left the shop.

 

‘Right, then,’ said Harry, with an almost Malfoy-esque smirk.  ‘Let’s get behind cover and apparate … and then we can see just how well these military-grade time-turners that Kingsley liberated from the Ministry, actually work.’

__________________________________________________

Although Hermione was as a matter of principle in favour of innovation and progress – or, rather, of Innovation and Progress – in the Wizarding world, she had remained a trifle perplexed by Harry’s own interest in How Things Work.  Hermione had always preferred theory to reality.

 

‘Honestly, Harry!  You’re as bad as Arthur,’ she had complained a year or so before.  ‘And now Hugo is following in your footsteps.  When – after the War – you embraced your heritage, both as a Wizard and as a country gentleman, a pillar of the County and a rustic Merlin –’

 

Harry had grinned.  His old friend had been indulging a trick of the old rage, referring obscurely to that eccentric ‘rural court magician’, the Revd Mr Henry Crabtree, Restoration vicar of St Mary’s, Todmorden, and author of Merlinus Rusticus, the Country Almanack.  Typical that she should have pursued such a trivial bit of Wizarding history, with its links to the town in which both Lily Evans and Severus Snape had been children.

 

‘– yet now you’re increasingly fascinated with trade.  Well, I suppose it’s very enlightened of you, renouncing the usual classism of the rural gentry, but, honestly, it seems rather out of character.’

 

And it had been Rose, just pipping Hugo to the post, who had said, in wide-eyed innocence, ‘Mummy, that’s silly.  Farming’s an ind-, indrus-, an industry too’ – and, turning to her Uncle Harry without so much as a pause for breath, had said, with her usual enthusiasm for all the aspects of country life, ‘Uncle Harry, can I go see the tractorses again?’  And Hugo had nodded vociferously, wanting in on it, as Ginny had laughed at her sister-in-law and Hermione had thrown up her hands in surrender.

 

‘Don’t come over all rural on me, Ginny,’ had said Hermione, joining in the laughter at her own expense, ‘the Burrow’s livestock runs to chickens and veg.’

 

‘Yes,’ had said Ginny, ‘and if you’d ever levitated what the chickens generate, over to the compost for the veg. on a hot August day, you’d be as interested in charmed machinery as Sirius was in charming motorcycles to fly.’

 

Harry had snorted: something he found himself increasingly doing as age and cynicism crept up upon him.  ‘Sirius wasn’t interested in charming motorcycles, as such. Sirius was interested in charming anyone who might be charmed by a charmed motorcycle.’

__________________________________________________

Fielden Evans, MB BCh, MRCS LRCP LMSSA, District Medical Officer and GP, had ever retained that commitment to improving the lot of the poor that had characterised his uncle – in his own day a DMO for the Todmorden Poor Law Union and then a physician devoted to serving Stansfield View Hospital for the mentally handicapped – and his grandfather, the Revd Hywel Evans, DD, who had taken up a curacy in Walsden, thus bringing the family forth from Wild Wales and into Todmorden and the Calder Dale, and had, after succeeding to the vicarage, been a member of the Board of Guardians and a supernumerary chaplain, off his own bat, to the inmates of the Union Workhouse.  Dr Evans had been a popular man, admired by the rich and loved by the poor, known equally for his tender care of the truly ill and for his bluff rudeness when occasion called for it (‘of course you’re feeling seedy!  Look at all that fat!  You’re digging your grave with your teeth!’), and cherished the more for his bluntness even than for his gentleness with the infirm.  He had been a devoted cricketer, an evangelical believer in the NHS, and an unceasing advocate for improving the conditions of the poor – including by getting them onto the cricket pitch and bringing some joy to their lives.  He had had but two regrets in his life: that he had not spotted one Dr Harold Frederick ‘Fred’ Shipman for what he was, back in ’74 and ’75, and that he had not done more to ameliorate the conditions of the impoverished and infirm.  For this, his elder daughter, Petunia, had never forgiven him.  He had been named for one of the Fieldens, the local magnates who were his father’s friends, he had been welcomed in the best Society yet had preferred to waste money and time upon paupers, and he had expected Petunia and Lily to meet on equal terms even with the ragged denizens of Spinner’s End (that awful boy, Severus Snape!).  Like most adolescents, Petunia had been furiously embarrassed by her father; like many adults, she had never given over her adolescent resentments.  Perhaps this ancient wound also had played its part in her distaste for her NHS matron of a daughter-in-law, Elspeth, née Bulstrode.

 

There had also been fear to underpin the embarrassment.  Petunia’s parents and their high-minded acquaintance, very much in the Todmorden traditions of radicalism and reform – Todmorden, after all, was the sort of place in which the very mill-owners and JPs were the Chartists in that revolutionary year of 1848 – had combined egalitarianism and paternalism in equal measure, and, because they were the local equivalent to the great and the good, had gotten away with it.  It did not, however, take much reflection for even Petunia at the age of six to grasp that Daddy was a doctor, and doctors go forth and do battle with illness and pain, and illness and pain seemed mostly to dwell in the grim, glum fastnesses of Spinner’s End, Millwood, Industrial Street, Market Street….  And Daddy, as the eleven-year-old Petunia soon realised, considered money to be something to be spent or, better yet, given away.  What if all the money went away?  What if they were forced into those terraced houses, two-up-two-down, where the people who fell ill lived?  What if they slid and slipped into that noisome realm of disease and pain and hopelessness, where such children as that awful Severus Snape dwelt?

 

These fears had shaped Petunia, and her life after.

 

And so it was that now, sitting stiffly and unnaturally upon the very edge of a chair in what she persisted in calling the ‘lounge’ in the meticulously restored and recreated house on Privet Drive, Petunia was prattling and embroidering the facts to conceal her fears.

 

‘But, truly, Mr Shacklebolt – Minister – I can hardly recall.  I’m not so young as I look, you know –’ and here Petunia forced forth what she fondly hoped was a silvery laugh – ‘and it was ever so many years ago.  And of course, my dear father positively devoted himself to public service, as it were, the doctor to Those In Need: well, noblesse oblige, and all that –’

 

‘Ah,’ said Kingsley, with relief.  ‘That should be Harry at the door.’

 

Petunia blenched. 

 

For the purpose of dealing with Muggles generally and the Dursleys in particular, Kingsley had arrayed himself in raiment suitable to his position as the first minister of his government, much to Petunia’s open relief (and as open determination to make sure that the neighbours knew that a senior-if-obscure ministerial official had called upon her).  Harry, at Kingsley’s behest, had likewise put himself into the Muggle equivalent of his robes of office, although he had managed to talk Kingsley out of his initial notions; and therefore, when Petunia – with great reluctance and no little trepidation – opened the door, her nephew stood there exuding the aura of a Gallant Major in mufti.

 

She shooed him in, and steeled herself.

 

‘Aunt Petunia.  Look, I know the Minister has explained what we are hoping for, from you, and why.  Let me tell you, if I can, just why this is so important.’

 

‘Your Minister has told me it’s, well, a security matter.’

 

‘Yeeessss….  Well.  You know what I do, Aunt Petunia, who I am.’

 

‘Yes.’  She froze.  ‘Tell me that that Dark Wizard isn’t somehow returned!  They said you’d put paid to him!’

 

‘Oh, he’s gone, for – in every sense – good.  No, what I was going to say, was, it’s true that I’m mainly concerned with, well, security, and some forms of policing.  And it’s true that evil remains even after Voldemort’s vanquishing.  But what we’re dealing with just now, Aunt, is … it’s more a contagion than anything else.  A Dark artefact, we think, is causing people to fall ill – and so far, Wizards haven’t been victimised: it’s Muggles who’ve succumbed.

 

‘And all I’m wanting from you, Aunt Petunia, is a name or two.  To stop a possible epidemic that seems to be spreading from Todmorden.  All that’s wanted is a name or two: anyone you can think of, nurse or medico, who’d remember my grandfather, who knew and liked him.’  Harry refused to pause on the fact that he had not had that opportunity, to know and love his grandparents.  ‘Because that gives us an in, a way to insinuate ourselves into the situation, without making things official and sparking a panic.

 

‘Just a name, Aunt.  That’s all I want.  Can you help us?’

 

And, as it happened, she could do, and, in the end, she did do.  And thus began what Harry privately christened Operation SLUGHORN, so named because it involved taking the backstairs route to some unsuspecting blighter’s memories, for an end that one did not reveal.

__________________________________________________

Justin had had, to the extent that such a thing exists, a Good War.  Whilst Dean had been off gathering information for Potterwatch and avoiding the Snatchers – until the end – and Nev and Seamus and All had been leading the Hogwarts maquis, Justin had found himself, under Kingsley’s personal command, liaising with the Royal Corps of Signals to keep Potterwatch on air: which, as his father (late Royal Artillery) had said, was slumming, rather, but one must do one’s duty, of course.  There was no immediate glory in being a back-room boy, but Justin never thought of that; had it occurred to him, he should doubtless have dismissed the idea with the reflection that, not once or twice in our rough island story, the path of duty was the way to glory, and, in any event, duty was to be done.  A thirst for glory was the foible of Frogs and other Lesser Breeds Without the Law.

 

It was, then, no surprise that he’d done yeoman duty in exerting himself to arrange the charity match.  Had it not been for the rather tiresome delay in finding a pitch for it, Harry and Malfoy might easily have been able to spread the word by village telegraph a day or so before they did do.  Not that anyone had been disobliging, but it was only to be expected that choosing a side and choosing a site would require a certain amount of discussion.

 

The former had, in fact, been rather the easier of the two.  Nev had pointed out that, no matter what the ministry of the day had thought, he and his Gran had dealt with their Muggle neighbours all their lives, and, besides, there had been that early worry in his family that he, Nev, might be a Squib, which meant that Nev had spent his childhood playing both Wizarding Quicket and Muggle cricket.  In Lancashire.  Which ought, he rather thought, to establish his credentials, as indeed it did.  So there was one right-handed batsman and right-arm fast bowler accounted for, and with enough Wessex connexions to qualify: he would be listed as ‘Prof N Longbottom, Right Arm Fast Bowler, RHB, Hurstholme Thorpe, Long Bottom, Lancs, and Lovegood Stanners, Ottervale, Devon’, and would go in in the top-middle order as fourth to Justin’s third (‘Mr J Finch-Fletchley, LHB, Left Arm Medium Pace Bowler, ffinch Hall, Fletchley Abbas, Burwell, Cambs, Budleigh Babberton, Devon, and Flete Ferrers, Devon’).  Some officious twit in HRH’s secretariat had drawn up the list to show the ‘Rt Hons’ and the ‘OM’s, but that had been quickly shot down, and, with the exception of the professorial Neville, everyone – even Theo Nott, who was after all a Wizarding circuit judge – was appearing as simple ‘Mr’ in this Muggle-attended match.

 

In the end, Dean, Lee, Dennis, Theo, Ernie, Bill, and Ron would round things out, with the Pride of Upper Flagley, Mr Z Smith, in reserve, all of them having holdings in the West Country – well, if one included Mould, in Glos – sufficient to justify their inclusion in Harry’s and Malfoy’s side, to face KSCC’s Sunday XI (the Hon Jno Seymour, Maiden Bradley, Captain, and Mr Alec Ludlow, Stourton, Vice-Captain) at Zeals.

 

Zeals had not been chosen entirely by default, or in compliment to KSCC, or as being closest to the point where Somerset, Wilts, and Dorset met: these were considerations, to be sure, but secondary to the condition of the wicket.  Other possibilities, some well into Somerset and Devon, had all thrown up insuperable objections – ‘you’re not serious, I’ve been there, cow corner has actual cows grazing it’ – and the pitch at Zeals had been chosen largely on its own merits, although it was also a fitting site for a match that would be of equal interest in the three counties.  The fact that it was suited to the finger-spin bowling in which Harry and Malfoy dominated was of course purely coincidental.

 

But these issues had been resolved in short order, after all, and now, at Pottersfield, the Wessex Wanderers and all their company were using the Ministry time-turners to their fullest in order to prepare for battle against the demon bowler, Nazim Gul, late of Todmorden and now of North Brewham.

__________________________________________________

It had not taken much persuasion to co-opt Old Canon Broddside into serving as an umpire, alongside the duke (KSCC’s suggestion, naturally).  He might nowadays be old and creaky, but he had known, in the days of his Keble youth, the sun-dappled turf of The Parks – and the notorious ‘batsmen’s pitch’ of Fenner’s – for he had been awarded his Blue, playing for OUCC under Colin Cowdrey and MJK Smith, and facing on a memorable occasion that greatest of Tabs, Peter May.

 

It would not have occurred to him that part of his being chosen as an umpire for this harmless festival match, was the desire of Wizards, confronting a possible Dark artefact, to have a priest on hand.  Just on the chance.

 

 

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Comments
serriadh From: serriadh Date: October 31st, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know startlingly little about cricket, though I've always been fond of the idea of it, and I'm still thoroughly enjoying this! I do wonder, what does the CofE make of priests being coopted into exorcisms and so forth for the WW. Are they aware of it?

(The tone of this chapter, for some reason, puts me very much in mind of one of AJ Hall's fics - which is, of course, meant as a compliment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 31st, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

And so taken.

Thank you.

And Old Canon Broddside is simply there as a precautionary measure. He'll never know....
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 1st, 2007 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the background you've created for the Evanses here; it fits well with Petunia, but also with Lily's honest but sometimes rather paternalistic desire to protect the wronged...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 1st, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thankee, lass.

I'm glad it works.
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