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Percy Weasley & the Great Cauldron-Bottom Caper, Ch 2 Part B - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
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Percy Weasley & the Great Cauldron-Bottom Caper, Ch 2 Part B
 

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In the Year of the Great Victory

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It would serve Percy in good stead, in later years, that he had spent some months trying to draw George out of his funk, by taking on much of the role Fred had once played.  If nothing else, once George began, haltingly, to become interested once more in living – and, George being George, in coming up with dangerous items that combined the mad genius of Heath Robinson with the danger, and sometimes the lethality, of the gadgets that Ian Fleming had dreamt up for Q to furnish James Bond with, that being a large part of what George called living – Percy had at least perforce acquired a familiarity with some of the coming tools of espionage and a thorough understanding of how picking locks, for example, might be superior to a simple (and often ineffective, once George was back on form) Alohomora.  (George had developed a range of proprietary spells and devices that acted as re-lockers when an Unlocking Charm was attempted.)

 

It was to benefit Percy greatly in the days ahead.

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Today

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‘He never done,’ said Dung, flatly.  ‘You elmses.  Even a bent elm thinks like an elm – or don’t think, more like.’

 

Dawlish bridled at this: there was no telling whether it was at the insult to his wits or at being called crooked or at being referred to, dismissively, as an ‘elm’, the Knockturn old lag’s backformation from MLE, comparable to the canting ‘slop’ for the Muggle police.

 

‘Guvnor says,’ said Dung.

 

‘Damn your guvnor,’ spat Dawlish.  ‘I don’t like this!  A mysterious guvnor we never see and of whom we know nothing –’

 

‘Arrh, “of whom”, is it?  Flash talk and posh airs’ll do you no favours here, Mr Nobby Dawlish, the bent and cashiered Auror!  You’ll do as guvnor says, sunshine, or Gawdelpyer – or what’s left of yer.  The Guvnor’s the guvnor, see, and that’s an end of it.’

 

‘And I suppose we’re to take all this on trust, because, no doubt, he meets your thieves’s code, your standard for trust as being an old lag who’s done bird –’

 

‘The Guvnor?  Guvnor’s too downy fer that.  Never been sussed, let alone banged up, hasn’t the Guvnor.  He’s a highly-placed gentleman, you dirty bugger.  Now.  Are you in or are you out?  Because if it’s out, it’s your funeral, and that’s no mere saying.  Well?’

 

Dawlish shot him a look of pure hatred.  ‘In, if that’s the way of it.  But I warn you, Fletcher, if this goes tits-up, I’ll make sure of you.’

 

‘You was always one to talk big, Dawlish.  It didn’t mean nothing when you was a redrobe, and it don’t mean a pinch of owl-shit now.  Just you sit schtum, you bleeder, and do as you’re told.  Nowathen, time’s drawing on.  Are you lot making any way?’

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‘Ah.  Sir Bors.  You have elected to answer our … invitation.’

 

Percy looked sourly at the man the others called ‘Aurelian’, and spoke very dryly indeed.  ‘I was advised to do so in rather compelling terms.’

 

‘Yes.  Wise of you to take advice – and then to take it.  You’ll not regret it.  Nor, speaking of – shall we say, “outside advice” – will any harm befall the former Miss Lovegood.  Or of course your family.’

 

Percy just managed not to startle visibly.

 

‘Do be seated, Bors.  I don’t know if you are aware of it, but old Hodrod was picked up in Knockturn the other evening by Aurors.  Of course, there wasn’t a charge to hold him on, and the Concordat is rather stringent in its terms.  He did, we are told, say something rather interesting, when jawed at about his Brotherhood activities, to the effect that BOG – I cannot resist that too-apt acronym – is a non-violent organisation, standing for traditional Goblin rights and All That.  Given some of the traditional Goblin rights in question, including feud and vengeance, the Aurors and the DMLE are beginning to wonder, not for the first time, what the devil he’s playing at.’

 

Percy made a noncommittal sort of noise in his throat.

 

‘I see that you are wondering just whence we obtained this information.  Suffice it to say that not a few of us at this table have worn the scarlet and the buff, or DMLE blue, or indeed –’ and here Aurelian smiled – ‘the purple.  Come, come: there’s no little precedent for groups that are in-but-not-of the Ministry, dear boy.  We’re not Dark, after all.

 

‘But let us return to business, shall we?  From another source, we are well aware that Hodrod and Griphook are hand in glove with some of Knockturn’s less upstanding subjects.  Willy Wagstaff and his Auntie Annis, who runs the junk shop … interesting place, that.  One can find anything there, really, or put in for it.  For a fee, Annis can put her hand to anything, from the address at which Voldemort’s third cousin lives to a live Erumpent with erysipelas.  I’ve even known her to sell second-hand books.’

 

Percy, recalling a certain volume entitled Prefects Who Gained Power, was silent.

 

‘And of course Dawlish.  Yes, I see you remember that bugger.  The Old Firm, really, Harris and Widdershins, some agent of Borgin’s, Philpott, Dillonsby, Cooper, and of course Dung Fletcher.  I believe you may have been adverted to what precisely is being smuggled into the country in cauldron bottoms?  Yes.  Gold.  Alchemical gold, one gathers.  Now, why is it, I wonder, that a gang of thieves and smugglers dealing in alchemical gold, would want to be in with two disgraced Goblins?’

 

Percy winced.  ‘They’re planning to counterfeit Galleons, aren’t they.  Don’t they realise that this would destabilise the economy, debase the currency, and quite likely provoke a war with the Goblins?’

 

‘Two points to – your old house.  I rather think, though, my dear Bors, that they don’t particularly mind the consequences.  Certainly I can’t imagine that Hodrod and Griphook wish for anything less than a new Goblin rebellion.’

 

‘But this is –’

 

‘I’ll thank you not to interrupt, Bors.  We mean to have that gold.  Think of it as a public service: it’s much better that we have it than they.  Indeed, by rights, the Ministry ought give us glowing citations – I don’t think.  Now: I will let Lamorak, Aglovale, Caius, and Yvain instruct you in your duties in all this.  And Gareth, naturally: you’ll be working most closely with him.  Gentlemen?  If you would?  Thank you.’

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Dolohov was once more meeting with Travers, Avery, the elder Crabbe, Yaxley, Rowle, and Selwyn, this time in a disused warehouse near the Erumpent and Castle, yet still, like the Docklands, in Q Division, in Carmichael’s and Corner’s manor: a very rash choice, as it happened.

 

‘Is Potter yet aware of the smuggling?’

 

‘No telling, Ant,’ drawled Selwyn.  ‘Shall I take another Anton-dekko?’

 

Dolohov’s wand hand twitched, but he restrained himself.  ‘When we are done, you will be paid in full, Selwyn.  Know that.  But our mission is too important now.  Must I then use the Crummles woman, or the Skeeter woman, to make stink?  Will nothing less attract the attention of these gov’nuk Aurors?’

 

‘Still dunno why it matters to us,’ grumbled Crabbe.  ‘Long as they don’t come after us.’

 

Dolohov bit his thin and bloodless lip and wished for patience.  ‘It is imperative that they be distracted until the end.  So.  Yaxley; Travers.  You are prepared to raise an Inferius?’

 

‘With the lashings of potions muck and whatnot you’ve had us acquire?  We could raise an army of the damned things.’

 

‘We need raise only one.  Because of who he is, it will all that you have require, and all our powers.’

 

‘I thought that we were going to raise the Dark Lord again using –’

 

‘You?  Thought? No.  In order to obtain what will allow us to raise Our Lord in his glorious and incorruptible resurrection, we must obtain what we seek, and to gain that it is that we must raise the Inferius who guards it.’

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The next ten days were trying ones for Percy.  What little tradecraft he had learnt in the last days of the War and the first of the peace, or from assisting George in his more military inventions, or had had drilled into him by Agent Argos and the others, was as nothing to that now dinned into his head by these dubious persons who called themselves the Round Table.  Dead-drops and codes, disinformation and intelligence gathering, and the use of one-time parchments – he had worked on early versions of those with George just after the War, but such things had evidently come far from their origins, and now incorporated the same interacting and communicating magic that had been used in Tom Riddle’s damnable diary – all these and more he learnt, quickly or painfully, and used under strict orders.  The professionalism involved – particularly in the new one-time parchments, which Aurelian laughingly called ‘Lupin Ars’, in tribute to the late hero of the Wars and the Map of which he’d heard George and Harry speak – left Percy reluctantly impressed, and hoping that this group also was in some way legitimate and in the Ministry’s confidence.

 

Even so, it didn’t do to dwell on such hopes, upon the heartfelt wish that his infiltration of the Round Table was merely part of a bureaucratic struggle between two sets of Unspeakables.  He had not dared approach Luna or even Penny with his news; and Bill and Nev and Harry and Ron and even his father remained frustratingly avoidant of him.  By the eighth day, after an incredibly disobliging Argos had grilled him on all he knew, he had resorted to writing things down, at the peril of his life, and trying to slip it through the Floo to his mum.

 

She dropped it, and it blazed into fine ash immediately.  ‘Oh, Percy, dear!  I’m so sorry!  Ever since Harry and Bill did some work on the wards….  Shall I have your father Floo you, then, in place of a note?’

 

‘No,’ said Percy, dully.  ‘It’s not that urgent, Mum.  We’ll see you for dinner on Sunday if we can get away.’

 

By that point, Percy would have unburdened himself even to that bugger Malfoy, in hopes that, despicable as he had been even when staying out of the War, his odd, ill-concealed, post-War hero-worship of Harry might even now put him on the side of the angels.

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‘Well, Argos?’

 

‘He’s keeping faith, is Percy,’ said Draco Malfoy, contriving to seem contemptuously surprised by the fact.  ‘His reports are complete and accurate, and reflect precisely what he knows or can be expected to know as “Sir Bors”, so far as that goes.’

 

‘Excellent,’ said Agent Mycenæ.  ‘Dismissed – Sir Gareth.’

 

Draco gave an exaggerated parody of a salute, said, in parade-ground tones, ‘Sah!’, executed a smart about-turn, and square-bashed his way out of Mycenæ’s office.

 

‘Little sod,’ said Mycenæ, almost affectionately.

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Time was running out, and Percy had yet to make contact with anyone whom he could trust to help him.  Once again, in conformity to standing orders, he had Apparated successively to the two Apparition Points that had been the third and fifth moves of that week’s game of ‘Grimmauld Place’ – the WWN answer to ‘Mornington Crescent’ – in that week’s WWN programme of I’m Sorry, I’m Not on the Floo.

 

He found himself in Wales, in Powys, in the wind-whipped countryside around Cwm Gellitalgarth; and found there the waiting portkey that would take him to his final destination, whatever it might be today, where the Lupin Ars, the one-time parchment, awaited his report.  He took the portkey in his hand, and found himself in his own study at home.

 

Worse still, the Round Table members were waiting for him, be-glamoured, unidentifiable, and ominous: young Galahad, the leaders Ambrose and Aurelian, the women Coventina and Gwen – how it hurt to think that his sister and this woman very nearly shared a name – Gareth, Lamorak, Caius, Palomides, Aglovale, Lucan, Yvain, and Dinadan.

 

‘Tomorrow,’ said Ambrose, with a politeness that Percy could only find sinister, ‘we are scheduled to seize the smuggled gold.  Mind you, not all of us will be there for that.’

 

Percy, as slowly and unobtrusively as he could manage, began to edge his hand towards his wand.

 

‘Because, of course, that’s a diversion at best, although serious.  The rest of us will be dropping in unexpectedly on a few remnant Death Eaters.’

 

‘Don’t move any further, Bors,’ said Aurelian, with a kindness that could only be mockery.  ‘Or think of reporting in to Argos or that lot … “Agent Ithaca” – or ought I to say, Percy?’

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Comments
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: December 9th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh crumbs. Poor Percy.

I am enjoying this very much - and being somewhat reminded of Price. Well done!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 9th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks - and we're done!

Completed now, just for you.
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