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One-shot: Aid to the civil power - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
One-shot: Aid to the civil power

Some months ago, a new H/D ’zine was proposed.  This was to have been my first contribution; had the ’zine gone forward as scheduled, the embargo on the piece would have been lifted in August or in September.  As the ’zine seems to have died a-borning, it seems appropriate that I now publish this, given that Remembrance Day is newly past and HRH the Prince of Wales celebrates his sixtieth birthday tomorrow, 14 November.  Besides, I want to get this posted before we all trot – or canter – off to Cheltenham.

 

 

Aid to the civil power

by GMW Wemyss

______________________________________

I am nimukwallah, as we say in the East; I have ate the King’s salt, and, therefore, I consider that it is my duty to serve with zeal and promptitude, when or wherever the King and his Government may think fit to employ me.

– Arthur, duke of Wellington, as commander

 

The Queen’s Government must be carried on.

– Arthur, duke of Wellington, as prime minister

______________________________________

Harry did not tumble out of bed, these days, although he was certainly not averse to a tumble in it.  Age had not withered nor custom staled the infinite variety of ways in which his hair could be unruly, either, although it was now distinguished by a number of silver threads.  Even so, he was as fit – in every sense – as he had ever been; it was only that he’d gained sense enough, with age and a few more scars, to get out of bed without being too careless of his joints.

 

‘Morning, Gin,’ yawned Harry.

 

‘Good morning, love.’  She was – with no small irony – dressed as for a State Opening of the Moot, the picture of perfection, and ageless: at the apogee of her matured beauty.  That Harry cherished rather more the memory of her as a newly wedded wife, standing atop Stoatshead, facing a mounting wind against scumbled skies, her hair streaming behind her like an oriflamme, her casual clothes moulded against her lithe, taut body: this was of no moment now.  ‘A busy day ahead.’

 

‘Yes.  Sadly.’

 

‘Are the children safe?’

 

‘They’ll not thank you for calling them that.’

 

‘Nor more they would,’ said Draco, strolling negligently in from the bath, damp, lavender-scented, and gloriously unclothed.  The years had been as kind to him as they had been to Harry; only his hairline had failed him, and the result, paradoxically, was to make him look the more youthfully intellectual.  Combined with the cultivation of truly Oxonian floppy hair, he rather resembled Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, and few failed to appreciate the fact, lustily.  ‘Morning, Gin.’

 

‘Morning, It.’  Well, Harry reflected, it’s better than ‘Bitters’.  Draco went spare over that one, although he tried to dissimulate the fact, which was bloody typical, really.

 

‘Come, come, Gin, you want to do better than that if you mean to divert me from the topic.  Lily is well and safe.  James is shaping very well.  Albus is indispensable, and a lovely lad.  And Scorpius, as it happens, is also very well indeed.  And they’re all of them now quite grown up, you know.’

 

‘If Albus is to be believed, Scorpius, in particular, is –’

 

Draco poked Harry in the ribs, and Ginny glared at the both of them.  ‘The two of you,’ said she, mock-sternly, ‘had best not be perving on your respective stepsons-cum-sons-in-law.’

 

‘Those callow youths?  Hardly,’ snorted Draco.  ‘Mere inferior copies of the eminently fanciable originals, you do realise, I trust.  Harry, love, you want to get on your broom sharpish, it’s very nearly dawn.’

 

‘A full day, then.’  Ginny looked sad, and tired.  ‘These terrorists, I take it.’

 

‘Yes,’ said Draco, donning his uniform with economy and precision beneath her affectionate gaze.  She had, after all, seen every inch – and bit – of him over the years, quite as much, if never as intimately, as she’d seen all of Harry.  ‘I’m afraid so.’  They could hear the shower running as Harry prepared to face the day.

 

‘I had hoped … the War was ghastly enough, really, and then that second lot of terrorist idiots….  Draco.  You will keep James safe, won’t you, as well as Harry?  I know that Scorpius and Albus will look after one another, and Lily should be well away from the line, but James….’

 

Draco gave her a very level and very open look, in response.  ‘My dear Gin.  James is an Auror.  He’s shaping well.  He’ll do his duty.  And he’d be quite rightly furious with his father and with me if we attempted to keep him safe in a cushy billet.’

 

‘What’s all this?’  Harry was striding in at a fast clip, already perfectly turned out, in No. 1 dress uniform as Field-Auror Marshal and Chief of the Magical General Staff.

 

‘I was reminding dear Ginny that James is old enough now to make his own choices and not to be coddled.’  Gin looked oddly satisfied, Harry noted, which meant that the two of them had agreed without words that James should be looked after.  As an officer, indeed the senior officer, of the Royal Corps of Aurors, Harry disapproved.  As a father, he was thankful for the Slytherin tendencies both of Ginny and of Draco, which meant he need never formally and officially disapprove, as there was nothing, formally and officially, to disapprove.  Nevertheless, James would take his chances just like any other young officer: Harry could out-Slytherin Ginny and Draco together if needs must.

 

And speak of the devil, here was James, very evidently proud of his first command, and of his chosen regiment: a young god in kilts, an officer of the Scots Aurors, in No. 2 dress, his Glengarry at a jaunty angle.

 

‘Morning, Mum.  Dad.  Draco.’

 

Harry was willing to let the matter be, but Draco was not.  His concentrated glare recalled James to his obligations. 

 

Returning his son’s salute, Harry waved James into a chair.  ‘Draco, you should have made an excellent RSM.  James, consider yourself off duty and en famille for a moment.  Now.  Good morning.  I take it that you and your command are ready.  Very well.  Ginny, my dear?  I’m afraid we must leave now.’

 

‘I know, love.  I want you all to be safe.  No, I know.  But come home safe and whole.  I realise you’ve your duty, but – and I really should have said this, well, the last time – I’d much prefer roses, when you’ve put paid to these terrorists, to the pile of skulls with which you avenged me on the last occasion.’

 

Harry laughed.  ‘You weren’t available to make your preference known, and it was hardly a pile of skulls.’

 

James snorted.  ‘Never argue with Mum, Dad.  You’ve not learnt that yet?  Mum.  We’ll be fine.  And even though this has bled over into our world a trifle, these are Muggles we’re dealing with.  We’ll be fine.  Even Scorpius and the Asp, daft git.’  So far, James was the only one – young and accordingly secure in his own immortality – who was not alert to, or was unwilling to accept, the brittle, careful formality with which his elders kept their fears at bay.

 

‘See that you are.’  Ginny was carefully formal, her tone brittle as glass.  ‘Draco, have you any message for Asteria?  I think I shall spend the day with her, in that nice landscape that is not a Vermeer, whatever the experts say.’

 

‘Give her my love, Gin.  And Scorpius sends his as well, I’m sure.’

 

‘Off with you, then.  And send word when you can.’

______________________________________

It wasn’t, Harry reflected, that the new monarch – not so new, now – was not a patch upon the old, although there were many who’d say so, not knowing either as he did and had done.  Yet a man gives his heart but once, fully – although he had been fortunate in love to be able fully to give his twice over.  Still, her late majesty Queen Elizabeth 2d would always, to him, be the Sovereign, the Queen, the monarchy embodied.  Yet, even so, it was the Crown as institution, the unembodied monarchy, that he was sworn to serve: and he would do, unto death.  What was it that Arthur’s connexion and namesake from the Squib branch of the family had said?  ‘The King’s Government must be carried on’: precisely so.

 

The MLE were largely on their own today, even more so than had become usual since the post-war reforms of Kingsley’s first ministry: any regular policing that wanted doing today would be done by the MLE without any hope of its calling in the Aurors to give aid to the civil power.  The Hit Wizards and the Unspeakables, disguised as royal protection and Int Corps for the day, were also at Harry’s disposal.  Had the old lags of Knockturn known – as Harry had made damned certain they did not – it could have been a thieves’ paradise for a day in the Wizarding world.

 

The officers and men – including of course Witches as well as Wizards – of the Aurors were formed up before him at Daysbridge Barracks in the slant of morning light, attentive and alert, like Crups waiting to be let off the lead.  James’s face was stony with duty.  The Unspeakables, in Int Corps green, were as inscrutable, even Scorpius, even Al.  They waited his briefing, his orders, solemn, prepared, fit for purpose, determined, and incapable of imagining failure: the Wessex Aurors, the Isles Aurors, the Scots Aurors, the Manx Aurors, the East Anglians, the Norroys, the Midlands Aurors, the London and Home Counties Aurors, the Southern Aurors, the Channel and Norman Aurors, the Welsh Aurors, the irrepressible Irish Aurors.  All waiting, keen and disciplined, and certain that they should prevail.

 

‘You will be aware that the ongoing low-intensity conflict in the Muggle world has begun to spill over into our own: magic ill accords with the fundamental – and fundamentalist – beliefs of the terrorists: which has not, naturally, stopped them making common cause with Dark wizards where they can manage to do.  You will now proceed to put that factor firmly from your minds.  Your orders of the day, your orders for this day, are simple, and may be as simply executed.  At all costs and above all other considerations, we are to protect, and we shall protect, HM, and the Royal Party generally.  In so doing, if it becomes necessary to use force, you may, if time and circumstance permit, attempt to make that response seem as if it were a Muggle response.  However, that is a secondary consideration at best: I don’t give a clipped Knut if we are forced to modify the memories of half the planet, so long as our duty is done and HM and party are protected.

 

‘You have been briefed on the intelligence that we have, and that shared with us by the Muggles.  You know the threat, you know the score, and you know your duty.  I confide that your duty will be done, with the greatest possible credit to the Royal Corps of Aurors and to the Department elements seconded to us today.’

______________________________________

‘Sir.’

 

‘Harry!  Splendid.  Draco, good morning.’

 

‘Good morning, sir.’

 

‘Now, do I understand that your sons are … yes.  Well, we must keep them safe, mustn’t we.  No, no, I do realise … service families.  Quite.  Even so….  Let me see, are all my lot ready?  Oh, good.  Well.  Boring, I know, all this security, but we must do our duty and let these poor bloody fools try to pot us, I suppose.  Appallingly bad taste on their parts, I may say.  Oh, don’t fret, gentlemen: I am quite certain I’m quite safe.  I’ve made very sure of that.  I am, after all, with you.  Ready, then?  Excellent; I believe that’s the off.’

 

‘I am not worried, Harry.  I am with you.’  HM’s unconscious echo shook Harry to his core; yet he did not, could not, show it.  Only Draco’s eyes, grey and ever watchful, saw, and with perfect empathy, understood.

______________________________________

Even in a time of terror, there are certain events on the Royal Calendar that cannot, that will and shall not, be changed, diminished, or interfered with in the name of security.  A State Opening of Parliament is one such; so also is the Trooping of the Colour, to abandon which would be a base capitulation and an insult to the Forces and their morale. 

 

Yet if there is any such event that eclipses all others, and that all the realm are determined shall not be curtailed or daunted under the threat of bombings and assassination, it is Remembrance Sunday.  And when, as it fell upon this year, Remembrance Sunday falls actually upon Remembrance Day, a thousand Enniskillen massacres in prospect would not prevent the ceremony at the Cenotaph or cause the Sovereign to fail of attendance.

 

The echoing concussion was expected: the field gun that signalled the start of the Two Minutes’ Silence.

 

The moments crawled by, heartbeat upon heartbeat.  Harry felt, and knew that Draco could feel as well as he, sharing the task, his second in command, the strain as the wards held.  And they held them, he and Draco, at all costs.  One minute.

 

The Aurors, from Harry and Draco to the newest one-pip Ancient and the rawest recruit, were alert and watchful in the solemn silence, glamoured to match the details of their uniforms or their plain-clothes and mufti to the Muggle standard, glamoured to match their ages to their ranks and to mask themselves in face and form amidst the Muggles.  A last, late wasp hovered over a wreath. One minute, twenty-two seconds.

 

The moments crawled by, heartbeat upon heartbeat.  Draco felt, and knew that Harry could feel as well as he, sharing the task, his sole superior, the strain as the wards held.  And they held them, he and Harry, together, united in their strength, united by their bond, at all costs.  One minute, fifty-nine seconds.

 

The echoing concussions were expected: the field gun that signalled the end of the Two Minutes’ Silence, and, simultaneously, the blast of HE that was meant to decapitate the government of the United Kingdom, Crown and Parliament at once.

 

The wards held.  The charms held.  The explosion was contained, warded, compressed: its malice and destruction evanesced into failure.  The Muggles noticed nothing more than the signal-gun; they heard nothing else save the bugles of the Royal Marines.  HM and party, the other Royals on the balcony of the FO, and several members of the front benches of all parties and of the Forces representatives, noticed, Squibs all, and did not flinch.  Resolute and calm, HM laid the first wreath against the unyielding Portland stone of the Cenotaph. 

 

Few noticed the collapse of several onlookers in the crowd; those few who did notice were pleased by and proud of the way that soldiers and St John Ambulance men calmly and without fuss helped them away to recover.  It was a cool day, under clear, steel-blue skies, with a slight breeze to rustle the last bronzen leaves of autumn; yet, even in good weather, King’s Weather, it was hardly surprising that a few folk in the crush should be overcome, poor dears, and with the occasion so solemn, as well.

 

Harry and Draco noticed the Stunning and removal of the enemy with professional satisfaction.  It had been neatly and economically handled.  Only one of the Aurors involved had been so much as scratched.

 

The New Zealand High Commissioner – in a hat over which Lady Thatcher and the Queen Mum would equally have lusted – was laying a wreath now.  Harry cut his eyes to the Foreign Office balcony: to which a sudden jet of livid light was speeding.  Draco, with no need for words between them, immediately cast a shield of his own even as a kilted young officer attending upon the junior Royals cast the same.  Harry’s responding fire, followed immediately by Aurors apparating to the scene and physically subduing the would-be assassin, was so swift, the whole of the incident so brief and so incomprehensible to Muggles, that none watching who were not magical believed they had seen anything at all: only the flash of sunlight upon silver, only the reflection from helmet and bugle.

 

The young officer on the FO balcony had sustained some injury, and was down.  Hasty charms prevented the Muggles from seeing anything untoward.  Well, thought Harry, James has been blooded and has won his spurs.  God send it’s not serious.  Fatal or flesh-wound, however, James’s father had no choice but to persevere at his post.

 

Second upon second, minute upon minute, at an intolerable pitch of alertness, heartbeat upon heartbeat, he kept his post and did his full duty, resolutely refusing to wonder if his eldest son yet lived.

 

The March Past was beginning, to the strains of Rule, Britannia!  Harry was now advised that his son was only lightly wounded, and quite safe: being, indeed, made much of by the Household and the lesser Royals.  Harry rather suspected that James would enjoy that to the hilt of his sgian dubh.

 

Draco was receiving and quietly relaying to Harry the reports as they came in.  By what time the massed bands were playing David of the White Rock, it was clear that the terror cell had been very firmly put paid to.  The Unspeakables would be interrogating the captured enemy in cooperation with their Muggle counterparts; it was perhaps as well that Al and Scorpius would be thus occupied, as Al’s sense of responsibility for and capacity for worrying over his elder brother was exceeded only by his partner Scorpius’ tendency to fret after his brother-in-law.

 

Their duty was done; HM was waiting their final report.  They unobtrusively vanished, as the band played The Flowers of the Forest, and the old, old men in their Bath chairs, the last unfallen leaves of a generation’s autumn, waited for their own march past.

______________________________________

‘Harry?’

 

‘Gin!  Hullo, love.  You and Aster got word, I trust?’

 

‘Darling, we were besieged.  Albus, Severus, Minerva, Fred: you never saw so much pigment in one canvas!  Now.  How is James?’

 

‘Ginny….’

 

‘Harry.  How.  Is.  James.

 

‘He’s managed a dislocated wrist, a cut cheek from a chip of stone off the FO façade, and an MVO in the next Honours List.  He’s fine, love.  And will, I’m certain, remember this day with advantages.’

 

‘And you and Draco?’

 

‘I,’ said Draco, strolling in with half his uniform off already, ‘am absolutely knackered.  Harry is pretending not to be.’

 

‘I’m sorry, loves.  You two want to turn in.  I’ll keep watch.’

 

‘I may be knackered,’ replied Draco, ‘but I’m not too knackered that I don’t insist on being thoroughly and comprehensively shagged before sleeping.  And I rather had my husband, your widower, in mind for the task, darling: a little touch of Harry in the night.’

 

‘Oh, then I’ll certainly keep watch.  And let Asteria know to stop by as well.’

 

They all gave way to a laughter rather brighter than necessary: and why not?  They had lived another day through, and come safe home.

 

‘Bless you, my dear,’ said Harry.  ‘I’m sorry I lost you, even as I’m glad Draco and I managed to find each other and ourselves, after.  I am, you know, truly sorry that … last time … we couldn’t do as well as we did today.’

 

‘Oh, Harry, don’t be a fool.  Last time,’ said Ginny, ‘you weren’t the Officer Commanding.  Had you’d been, it would have turned out differently.  I’m off then.  Draco, give him your best, and make him see that last time wasn’t his fault.’

 

‘I’ll do that.  And, Ginny?  Thank you, my dear.’

______________________________________

‘Do you think she snuck back to watch?’

 

Harry chuckled.  ‘I know damned well she did.  With yours.’

 

‘If that’s the case, love….’  Draco moved, beneath Harry, in the way best calculated to arouse him once more.  ‘It’s our duty to give them another show.’

 

‘Let it never be said,’ said Harry, his voice thickening with desire, ‘that we failed to do our duty.’

______________________________________

END

______________________________________


 

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 13th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rather bittersweet, but good; I like the way the reader is kept off balance at the beginning; I didn't work out what had happened until the reference to Vermeer (or not), which probably means I'm slow this evening. And I do like the Wellesley/ Weasley connection.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 17th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, well. I am the sneaky one.

Thank you. I'm rather fond of this one, and obliged for yr vy kind words.
goddessriss From: goddessriss Date: November 13th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful stuff, my dear. I loved that Draco and Portrait!Ginny get on so well, that the families have melded completely and that Harry and Draco are still shagging every night. Especially loved the still shagging and the voyeuristic portraits. There was even a hint of AS/S. Sublime.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 17th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you, vy much indeed.

You're far too kind. And I cannot see why, in the Wizarding world as we know it, age or death shd affect the libido.
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: November 14th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Let me echo the admirations, with particular note to the marvellous shock it was to realise that Ginny really was a portrait, and not simply a very early riser. The bittersweet is carefully dusted, and thus piquant. As is Duty, one supposes.

--and of course there's always the dear delight of the notion of Gin being voyeur. ^^
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 17th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ta, luv.

You're far too kind to my footling effusions. And I am greatly obliged.
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