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A Dartmoor Eclogue, Part One - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
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A Dartmoor Eclogue, Part One


 

A Dartmoor Eclogue

 

Dudley Dursley had spent the first seventeen or so years of his life being a complete swine.  He had resolved – and what was more, he had succeeded, thus far – in living the rest of it as quite a decent human being.

 

The Dudley Dursley who was the terror of Privet Drive could not have done so.  The Dudley Dursley who had survived a brush with Dementors and uncovered thereafter enough of innate decency within him, however decayed for want of nurture, to thank his cousin for saving him and to wish him well as he set out to save the world, had reached a tipping point.  The Dudley Dursley who scraped into a plate-glass university – Brunel – and applied himself, as he had never done at Smeltings, sufficiently to take a degree (a BSc in Sport Sciences), was upon the cusp of becoming a decent man.  And the Dudley Dursley who had there met and thereafter married Elspeth Bulstrode, to his parent’s moans and mutterings, had set his feet upon the path to redemption.

 

A Squib, as it happened, and very much a cut above the semidetached Dursleys, Elspeth – cousin to Millicent Bulstrode – was 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.

 

Despite Vernon’s disdain for Dudley’s choice of degree – impractical tosh; can’t making a living with that sort of rubbish, boy: although even the Dursleys had had sense enough to realise, privately and utterly unvoiced, that any degree from any university was more than their parenting methods had made at all likely for Dudders – it had stood him in surprisingly good stead.  Even as Elspeth had been headhunted as an administrator for the Physiotherapy Unit of the Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust, Dudley, who had seen his fair share of injury and insult in the ring, and it may be a trifle over, had joined the offices of a registered charity devoted to various causes related to brain injury.  Nowadays, Dudley Dursley was a well-regarded staff member of Headway UK’s London office, a markedly happy and productive person, and, with Elspeth, a proud parent, of a surprisingly pretty daughter, named, to her grandparents’s horror, for her cherished godfather: Harriet Dursley.

 

Vernon and Petunia had been still more despairing when it had transpired that little Harriet was, indeed, a Witch.  Her and her parents’s visits to her Dursley grandparents had become increasingly strained, and increasingly infrequent.  This did not sadden Harriet unduly: Dudley and Elspeth were determined that it not be allowed to do, and the elder Bulstrodes were more than happy to do double duty in making much of the child.  Moreover, in addition to the freer and more magical air of the Bulstrode place in Hants (near West Green, Hartley Wintney) – the Bulstrodes, as may perhaps have been noted, were very much a cut above the Dursleys of Little Whinging – Harriet was early made free of the Potter-Weasley-Granger-and-Every-War-Hero-One-Cares-to-Name ménage in the West Country, amongst whom she was simply another of the seething mass of sprogs (though one of the less annoying ones, actually), who all indiscriminately called one another’s parents ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ and who were all some form of cousin to one another in any event.

 

This weekend the Dursleys at one of those magical house parties, not, this time, in the Otterys, but, rather, at the reclaimed Griffin Priors, with Chantry Farm hard by: ancient, mellow Griffin Priors, where to the north, beyond the gates, Godric’s Hollow sat at ease and dozed in summer sun, secure once more in the shelter of the Potter demesne and the Potter lordship, linked indissolubly to the Potter magic and the Potter story, village and manor forever joined by the hallowed ground that had been an estate cottage hard by the dower house and the gatekeeper’s lodge, near the site of the old Roman villa, where, as the Fidelius charm was broken about them, James and Lily Potter had sacrificed themselves to save their son, and, in saving him, had saved the world.

 

Beyond the coombe and the hollow, the classical West Somerset landscape rose, less grand and more intimate than that near Pottersfield House and Potterton Mallet, away upon the Mendips, on the other side of the county.  Godric’s Hollow and district hid themselves away, doves in the rock, in the shadow of the everlasting hills, upon the margins of the moor.  North-westerly stood Gryphon Hill, with its trig point and its ruined castle; beyond it brooded Exmoor, wild and free.  To the north and east of the village, the Sam Brook rose, to make its merry way, chortling over the rocks, to the greater tributaries of the River Exe, and thence to the Exe herself and so to the ever-changeful sea.  It was the long vac., and High Summer, a golden god of jocund aspect, sat enthroned upon the land.  And this was not Dudley’s common Earth, water, or wood, or air: it was Merlin’s isle of Gramarye: yet it was not so far from, it was none so alien to, the fields he knew.  For all its subtle thrum of magic in the breeze, in the soil and the roots that filamented that soil, in every vein of every leaf, this was as much England as it was Faerie: the intersection of the timeless moment, England and nowhere, never and always.  The Summer-God was a kindly divinity: for the loss of the honeyed flowers in the bluebell wood of Springtide, he gave as recompense the first flowering of eyebright, white and gold as priestly vestments, purple and gold as the robes of a Byzantine emperor: and outwith the magic of this place, the same exchange was made in the fields the Muggles knew, on Heydon Hill and Heydon Common, on Haddon Hill, at Potter’s Cross and Huish Champflower, Clatworthy and Chipstable.  Gorse and whin, dog-rose and bittersweet, maple, oak, and elm, took the Sun’s grace here just as they did in the fields the Muggles knew, in Skilgate or Gupworthy, for in every season, in may time with its hedges white with voluptuary sweetness, in Summertide of the children in the apple-tree, in wintry Pentecostal fire in the dark time of the year, in the autumn of burnt roses and ash on an old man’s sleeve, this was the ancient history behind the history, a pattern of timeless moments, now and England.

 

There were adults playing leisurely cricket, and adults playing, still more leisurely, a game of bowls; there were youths – and the more irrepressible adults – playing a deadly serious and highly competitive Quidditch match (it no longer surprised Dudley in the least that Harry, Ginny, and Ron were aloft, with that frighteningly intense Wood bloke, showing the callow youths How It Was Done).  Hagrid – who had ceased to inspire horror in Dudley some years before, and now inspired only a fond respect – and Luna, whom Dudley, like everyone else, would always be the tiniest bit in love with, were leading the more adventurous of all ages on a nature walk in the wood; Molly, the Widow Tonks (if he’d the name right), and that formidable headmistress who made one feel all over thumbs and bumptiousness, were sitting in the dappled shade, knitting – and yarning – away (that aged and donnish sybarite, Professor Slughorn, had laughingly called them the Fates, and been set to bring them tea and cakes as penance, after which he had remained with them, gossiping merrily and dropping names as droppeth the gentle rain from Heaven).  Arthur was still attempting to get the Grangers and the Creeveys to explain to him how, precisely, Muggles managed to get the milk to float without magic (Mr Creevey had long since regretted revealing his calling as a milkman to Mr Weasley).  Numerous War Heroes were reduced to watching over that seething and indiscriminate mass of mischievous magical children, and looking rather the worse for wear as a result – apparently, had the Dark Thingummy ever recruited an evil army of children, he’d have won the War in a fortnight – as other equally harried Heroes of the War recruited their fellows and themselves with tea and cakes or stronger waters.  Tony and Eleanor Goldstein were being persuaded to explain the laws of kashrut to a dangerously interested George Weasley, who was turning an artificial ear to the entreaties of his wife Angelina and of his brother Percy (Dudley foresaw a new series of edible Wheezes that could be counteracted only by the victim’s keeping kosher for some days after incautiously consuming the proffered sweet, and in this he was quite right); Tony’s banking partner, Blaise Zabini, was nervously avoiding the swarm of children and not quite quietly enough telling Theo and Pansy Nott how glad he was that he and Justin would not be becoming parents, ta ever so.  Justin, quite sensibly, was having a pint of cider in the shade of a vast sessile oak with Bill and Fleur and her sister Gabrielle and Gabrielle’s husband, little Den Creevey, Justin being for evident reasons one of the few men who could reliably be trusted in the presence of two part-Veelas without making an ass of himself before their respective husbands or a nuisance of himself to the ladies.  Sitting with them, discussing Charms and Mediwizardry, were Susan Bones and her partner, Elspeth’s cousin Millie; Elspeth had been waved over, as Susan in particular was fascinated by Muggle medicine, but had found an excuse in dealing with various small children (Elspeth was quite fond of Millie, really, and everyone adored Susan, but talking comparative medicine at a house party was too much of a busman’s holiday for Elspeth’s tastes).  Lee Jordan was giving a suitably bowdlerised and quite useful elementary commentary on the Quidditch match to the youngest children – Dudley would have gone over and listened, were he not too comfortable to want to move, as Lee’s tuition was always enlightening: Dudley was able by now to hold his end up surprisingly well when Harry and Ron, and Ginny, for that matter, got stuck in to yet another dinner table colloquium on Advanced Quidditch Tactics – whilst Dean Thomas, comically assisted by Seamus and usefully supported by Lavender and Parvati (Dudley was too drowsy and sun-drunk to remember who they’d married), was cheerfully painting the faces of a long queue of eager children, most of whom wanted to be made to look like Gryffindor lions despite Padma’s urging, from the touchline, that they try being Ravenclaw eagles for a day, if only for a change from the last several summers.  Hannah and the ever-reliable Ernie were doing a hilarious send-up of Rosmerta and Aberforth, dispensing drinks, with Aberforth himself sitting astride a goat and chaffing them; Cho and her thoroughly Muggle husband were seated, quietly drowsy themselves, a scant yard from Dudley and Elspeth: like the Grangers and the Creeveys, they tended to gravitate towards the Dursleys as kindred spirits when the sheer oddity of Wizards became too much for – Leslie, that was the chap’s name, of course it was, Cho’s husband.  Sensible man; something in the City, as Dudley recalled.  Angelina being occupied with George’s future mischief, it had fallen to Terry Boot to move through the crowd in the wake of various Weasley offspring – and not Fred and Roxanne only – performing counter-charms, accompanied, if one stood tall and looked closely, by Professor Flitwick, who was taking copious notes and chuckling to himself.  Hermione was doing her best to head off Professor Trelawney, who was hovering so as to pounce upon the Grangers if ever Arthur were done with them: the batty old Seer was forever trying to talk to Hermione’s parents about Australia, for reasons no one cared to delve into.  Minister Shacklebolt, Augusta Longbottom, Katie Bell and Alicia Spinnet – who played for the Harpies under their maiden names, which always buggered Dudley up, as he was hopeless at remembering their husbands – Pomona Sprout, and Charlie Weasley were deeply engrossed in a debate on gardening (Charlie was extolling the merits of dragon dung in compost), from which hardy perennial of British conversation Nev had wisely absented himself: he and Jack Sloper and several others whom Dudley didn’t know terribly well were amongst those playing workmanlike, thoroughly Muggle cricket under the cloudless sky….

 

Surveying the scene from a comfortable chair with a long drink on the table next his elbow, Dudley thought back to his early acquaintance with the woman who would become his wife.  The talk had turned to families, and he had sensed a common reticence in them both; the talk had turned to cousins, and Dudley, much daring, had tired of walking on thin ice and deliberately smashed a foot through.  Certainly the shock of his finding that Elspeth had a cousin who was a Witch, and knew of – indeed, had been at Hogwarts with – Harry Potter, had been a shock like falling into icy water; Elspeth had been equally staggered to find that Dudley Dursley was Harry Potter’s cousin, and, indeed, thanks to the Blacks, that Elspeth, being a Bulstrode, was Dudley’s cousin at some removes, she being after all, as a Bulstrode, a distant cousin to the Potters.

 

Sometimes, it was still an overwhelming thing, a shock to the system, to find himself – the practical and highly non-magical son of the vehemently Muggle Vernon Dursley – here, amidst Witches and Wizards and Squibs.  The other Squibs, he supposed: there was obviously some magic in the Evans bloodline, although it hadn’t manifested in his mother or in him.  But it was by no means an unpleasant shock: not to the man he had become.  After all, he was here, Harry’s cousin, Harriet’s father, Millicent’s cousin Elspeth’s husband; in an odd sort of way, he fit (and dear old Arthur was always particularly pleased to see him: Dudley felt he owed it to the old buffer to spend hours talking of Muggle technology, and didn’t mind terribly, really, although the experience had clearly palled long since for Den Creevey’s parents and for Mr and Mrs Granger).

 

Elspeth, sitting next him, was listening indulgently to Lily Potter, Harriet’s dearest friend – at least this week – who was chattering happily away.  He sat up, fighting the overpowering urge to doze a bit in the sun, and did his best to be An Involved and Attentive Uncle.

 

‘– Weasleys, of course, Aunt Elspeth, but because of, well, what happened….’  Lily fell silent and looked over at Uncle Dudley, clearly weighing her words.  ‘Well, as he was sent to stay with his mum’s family, Papa never really had much knowledge of the Potters.  Uncle Remus and Aunt Andy –’

 

‘I’m sorry, Lily, who again is, er, Aunt Andy?’  Who the devil names a daughter ‘Andy’, even amongst Wizards, I’d like to know.

 

‘Andromeda Tonks, Uncle Dudley.  She was Andromeda Black before she married Ted Tonks, he was killed in the War, Scorpius’s grandmother Malfoy is her sister, Scorpius never comes to these dos because his father and Papa never really got on even though Papa saved Mr Malfoy from being killed in the War, but Aunt Andy and Narcissa Malfoy get on nowadays, and they were first cousins to Sirius Black, Papa’s godfather who was killed in the War, and Aunt Andy’s daughter Nymphadora, except she hated to be called that and everyone was to call her “Tonks”, married Remus Lupin who was grandfather’s and Sirius’s best mate, they were killed in the War, they were Teddy’s parents, I mean Tonks and Remus were, and of course Grandfather Potter and Grandmother Potter and Sirius Black were killed in the War as well but what I meant was that Remus and Tonks were also killed in the War but of course after they’d had Teddy – and I’m sorry, Uncle Dudley, because after all Grandmother Potter was your Aunt Lily after all and I probably shouldn’t have reminded you that she was, er –’

 

‘Killed in the War?  It’s all right, Lily, I did know that, you know.’

 

‘Well, but….  Well.  All right, then, before Remus was … well, he was killed in the War, there’s no point in not saying so, practically everyone was until Papa stopped it, and –’

 

Dudley’s voice was carefully modulated: grave, but not condemning.  ‘I know that also, Lily.  I was very nearly killed in the War myself, Muggle though I am, when I was attacked by Dementors.  I’ll wager you can guess, if you don’t already know, that it was your father who saved me.’

 

Lily nodded, with all the seriousness and gravity of a child.  ‘He’s very good at that, Uncle Dudley.  So we all of us look out for him and try to save him as well.  I think that’s what Remus was doing before he was killed in the War, and also he was putting together some notes for Papa on the Potter history, you see, because what with saving people and all sorts he hasn’t time to take care of himself or do as he likes, and Aunt Andy has been continuing those, she says that great-, ah, well, hold up –’ and here Lily was visibly seen to concentrate on some mental arithmetic – ‘great-great-great-grandmother Violetta Black, she was a Bulstrode, Aunt Elspeth, before she married Cygnus Black, and she was something of a historian, Aunt Andy says, and it runs in the family, Aunt Andy says, she makes certain that when Teddy sits his NEWTS he’ll excel in History of Magic, but be that as it may, you see, everyone wants Papa to have a shot at knowing more about the Potters, because they’re said to be a very old family and he never knew any of them due to their being –’

 

‘Killed in the War,’ said Elspeth, a trifle drily.  ‘Yes, dear.  I think it an excellent idea and I imagine your father will be very grateful.  I do think, dear, that we’ve talked enough about the War for a time, don’t you?  Now.  Albus starts Hogwarts when, exactly?’

 

It had been right of Elspeth, Dudley thought, as they waited resignedly at Basingstoke on the interminable rail journey back to London on Sunday afternoon – leaves on the line, no doubt – it had been quite right of Elspeth to turn Lily’s conversation – well, monologue, really – to lighter topics.  But he made sure that Elspeth felt, as he did, that Harry deserved this closure, to borrow a word they both heard all too often in their allied fields.  Doubtless Elspeth, naturally attuned to the importance Wizards put upon such things, was thinking of how terrible it was that Harry, arriving at Hogwarts amidst any number of cousins (good, bad, and indifferent, from Millicent, to Marcus Flint, to Vince Crabbe of execrated memory, to Malfoy, to the Weasleys, to those thoroughly decent chaps Ernie Macmillan and Neville Longbottom, who had done so much to make Dudley feel at home in his cousin’s – and soon his daughter’s – world), should have thought himself alone and without family: Elspeth, growing up a Squib, had suffered her own sensations of rejection and distance, although her branch of the Bulstrode family was a lightish one of decent and relatively unbigoted elders.  For his part, Dudley had never felt any curiosity about the Dursley family, although idle speculation in his dreadful childhood about Harry and the Evans family had since become more interesting as he planned for the future of young Harriet: she should know who Lily’s family were, whence she had inherited her magic.  But then again – was the blasted train finally moving again?  No.  False hopes.  Bugger – but then again, he wasn’t, as Harry was, a national hero, an officer and a gentleman with medals and decorations across his tunic, and a hereditary legislator (because as far as Dudley could make out, all of these youthful war heroes were granted hereditary seats in their magical parliament, and if that wasn’t the equivalent to being in the House of Lords before all those changes, Dudley would like to know what was).  No, Harry deserved better, and Muggle though Dudley Dursley might be, he would put his shoulder to the wheel with the rest and give things a push – pity it didn’t work on these damned trains….

 

There were moments, in the next few years, when Dudley, immured in stone and steel, using and being used through by wheels and machines, in the city that covers over what were once the fields men knew, almost forgot: almost, but never quite.  Harriet had gone off to Hogwarts, now – an ornament of Hufflepuff House, naturally – and her friends and cousins and schoolmates had become small individuals now, with personalities of their own (and rather rum personalities some of them were, to be sure), no longer an inchoate mass of fledgling energies.  Andromeda Tonks, and her grandson Teddy Lupin – for Teddy, like, it appeared, his late father, was indeed a born academic, and, as his gran had prophesied, a born historian at that – had never wavered in their determination to make the Potter heritage live and be apprehensible to Harry, and they’d let no one else slack in the effort, from bluff, steady, reliable Nev, still perhaps Dudley’s best and oldest friend, bar Harry, in Harry’s world, to stalwart Minerva, to the always enthusiastic Arthur, to dogged Ernie Macmillan, to the terrifyingly clever Hermione and her petrifyingly intelligent daughter Rose, to, remarkably enough, the alarming Draco Malfoy – Dudley recognised a fellow bully belatedly reformed when he saw one – and his surprisingly witty and charming mother, Andromeda’s sister Cissy: it was to Cissy, Dudley suspected, shrewdly, that the recent thaw in relations between Harry and the drawling sod was attributable.  What was more, the more immediate aftermath of the War was now done and dusted, and the reforms that mattered most had been effected, including the final and hard-fought reforms that made the MLE forces into proper policemen and the Aurors into a true Army, in consequence of which Harry, in the absence of mass insurrection or foreign threat, now had considerably more time to devote to his own life and family, for all his increasing seniority as an officer of what was now, proudly, the Royal Corps of Aurors. 

 

And now it was once more summer, and Hogwarts, broken up for the summer hols.  And in the rota of the long vac., once more Griffin Priors was to host the summer stay of the old soldiers and their families and such connexions as the Dursleys.  Dudley and Elspeth were now sufficiently senior to take their hols when they listed, so they would spend almost a fortnight with the Potters this year; Harriet would spend a month.  (‘Do feel free to send her home early if she becomes tiresome,’ had said Dudley; Harry had laughed, and countered, ‘If I keep her, can we send you lot, ours?’ – to which Elspeth had only half-humorously replied with a very firm and very swift, ‘No’, to Ginny’s howls of laughter.)

 

Harriet having gone before by Floo, it was left to her parents to make their own way to Godric’s Hollow and Griffin Priors.  Without Harriet’s wand to summon it, the Knight Bus was – gratefully, as it was a succession of terrors even to Wizards and Witches, much less to a Muggle passenger and a Squib – an impossibility; Apparition, like the Floo, was inherently barred to Dudley and Elspeth.  Fortunately, with the return of peace and prosperity, there were other resources now to hand, and his being Harry’s cousin – or, rather, his being the father of Harry’s joint-favourite goddaughter, and husband to one of Harry’s favourite people – meant that those resources were very much to Dudley’s hand.  The closure of the British Museum Underground station in 1933 had had causes other than those – efficiency, mainly – given out to Muggles, just as Dr Beeching, thirty years later, had wielded, not an axe, but a wand, in reserving and restoring several rail lines to exclusive Wizarding use.  And of course, if there is one place in the Muggle world, let alone Britain, where Wizards and Muggles can mingle without so much as an eyebrow’s being raised, it is the British Museum and its purlieus: even more so than at Oxford, or that place in the Fens.  So it was that Dudley and Elspeth met the Grangers and the Creeveys – who’d had an appalling time on the Muggle trains from Staffs up to town – at the BM tube station, to sink with relief into the 1920s, and the magical 1920s at that: the magical tube (Central Line) to Finchley Road and thence on the magical Metropolitan Line to Brill, all change for the Godric Express, via Boarstall, Oxford Magdalen, Calne, Black Dog Halt, Dilton Marsh Halt, Twatford Mulliner, Sutton Littlecombe Halt, Fisherton de la Mere, Potterton Mallet, dipping down to and through Ottery St Catchpole, and then back to Exeter St Aldhelm, Brompton Pixie, and on to Norton Fitzwarren, where they would be met.  All by steam!  O ghosts of Kipling’s memsahibs, all by steam!  The journey, like the appointments of the various carriages and the service of the free-elf wine-waiters, respectively, was plush, opulent, and smooth, and very swift: yet not so swift that the Creeveys hadn’t time to relax from the agonies of the Muggle up train that had – eventually – managed to get them to London, a prospect that had at times seemed doubtful, nor so swift that Dudley and Mr Granger hadn’t time to think dark, envious thoughts, and voice them to one another, about the invidious comparisons to be made between Muggle and magical rail companies.  Even so, in less than an hour, they had made their winding and characteristically eccentric magical way from the fringes of Bloomsbury (after all, the BM tube station was conveniently close to Elspeth’s beloved Great Ormond Street Hospital, even if that convenience were paid for in Mr Creevey’s several and ill-conceived puns: ‘GOSH, it’s a BM’ was by no means the worst of these) to the heart of the Summer Country.

 

And awaiting them at the terminus were several elves.  And an ancient shooting-brake that could not possibly hold their luggage, let alone their party.  Except of course that it could, as Harry’s elves quite competently demonstrated, magical space being what it is; and when they had piled into to an interior that could have been crafted by the works at BMC and was approximately the size of a state apartment at Frogmore House, a snap of an elfin finger transported them, bag and baggage, shooting brake and all, to the surround of Griffin Priors, half a yard from the doors outside which Harry, Ginny, Jamie, Al, Lily, Harriet, Ron, Hermione, Rose, Hugo, and a seething mass of ruddy little perishers, many of them ominously ginger, waited, smiling cheerfully.  Dudley was simply grateful that his fears, of a mad elf, ears flapping, sitting on forty four-folded blankets to peer through the lower reaches of the windscreen, chauffeuring them wildly through the countryside, had not been realised.

 

Bindweed, bramble, brier, traveller’s-joy, ivy.  Once, Dudley had thought, the prospect of stopping with his cousin would have been a weight and a binding; nowadays, even as he journeyed into this half-tamed countryside, it was always a slipping free of care; even as he entered into this world of trammelling bindweed, of bramble and brier, traveller’s-joy, and ivy, it was his cares that slipped from him even as the trailing plants and the kindly magic of the genius loci bound him fast with creeper and vine.

 

It was High Summer in the Summer Country: an embroidery of splendour upon the hem of Exmoor.  Dudley had grown to love the Summertide, of all seasons the best, and not only for its precious hols with wife and daughter; Harry, he knew, father of three children, old soldier of an incalculable war, loved best the autumn, the harvest home, the mellow fruitfulness achieved, the crown of the year’s labours, all safely gathered in.  Autumn, fox-red autumn, autumn all ruddy and golden, red as apples ripe and poppies at the Cenotaph upon Remembrance Sunday, red-gold as Ginny’s and Jamie’s hair, red and gold as Harry’s regimentals, gold and ruby as Gryffindor: that was Harry’s season.  Yet for Dudley, it was the burning stasis of the summer noon, the stillness at the apogee, the poise and pause at the peak of flight before the balanced cycle turned again, that was dear, a time as pallid-gilt and flaxen as Harriet’s hair – for she had taken her colouring from her parents, even as she had taken her fine bones from the Evans in her – and as emerald as the eyes she shared with her great-aunt Lily and with Harry, Lily’s son.

 

And at this peak of the spinning year, the still point of the turning world, where better could a man be than with his family in some magical home, amidst this homely magic, knowing and feeling, however dully, what his family’s keener senses more keenly felt and knew, the magic in the everyday, the great chain of being that linked them all.  The charlock and the small whites that it fed, the hare’s-foot clover and the shepherd’s-purse, sorrel and chervil and harebell and weld, the bugle and the dog-violet that fritillaries loved, the crab apple and, carolling from its utmost twig in the lashing storm, the mistle thrush; the elder and the woodpigeon; the hornbeam, the rowan, the oak and the birch, the wild cherry and the elm; and the bracken and the ling, the gorse and the whin, bordering the fields we know, with the whinchat singing from its upland fastness and the crisp carpet sheltering the vixen with her cubs (Dudley found Ginny rather plain, if truth be told: as he had grown into a Viking figure, so he had taken a shield-maiden to wife, and his taste was not Harry’s: yet there was about her something free and swift and cunning and wild that put him always in mind of the moorland vixens, fiercely fitted to this witching land, and Harry was a lucky lad, Dudley knew, and deserving of his luck).

 

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wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 25th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Naturally, all the good lines are Eliot's.

And yet I thank you.

I thought it time Dudley get a fair go. And I'm rejoiced that you're enjoying this, and grateful you took time to say as much.
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