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Drink Up Thy Zider, annotated, ch 13 - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Drink Up Thy Zider, annotated, ch 13

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The strife was o’er, the battle done. A few hours later, soberly respectable, self-evidently giddy (Narcissa suggested that they try, at least, to distinguish themselves from the notoriously besotted and giddy Scorpius and Albus Severus, but ruefully admitted that this was unlikely), and properly breakfasted, Sir Harry and – as the village and district had already recognised – ‘His Mr Draco’ took their due places to open – along with the legendary Sedge Moore[1] – the village fête, the first of many in the years yet to come. It amused Harry inordinately to see the assiduous welcome his neighbours – and Albie and Scorpius – extended to Draco as the new partner of the local proprietor. It amused him still more to see what an easy touch Draco was for every stallholder. And it amused him most of all to discover, as he watched, that Draco evidently was possessed, as his forays amongst the jams and cakes demonstrated, of a formidable, a positively Dumbledorian, greed for sweets.

He said as much as Draco staggered past under a great weight of everything from apple cakes to damson cheese and marmalade. For the second time in as many days, he found himself at a loss and on the back foot as Draco leant in and whispered, ‘Love, I’m not going to wax fat, I’ll work it off with what I bought it for – for be assured, lover, I am going to slather every magnificent inch of you in all this and lick it off until you can’t bear it any longer.’

It had been shortly after that that Harry had caused them to take leave of the fête for an hour: ‘to put all these purchases away, they’d be back in a bit’, as he said, to the transparent disbelief of the assembled district.

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The strife was o’er, the battle done. The first day of the fête had been a roaring success: the tombola had gone down a bomb, Harry’s pigs and horses and vast South Devons had been much admired, and the Name That Sheep portion of the proceedings had been, as ever, the highpoint of the day. No one had been sick on the Green, the ducks in the village pond had been disturbed by only one person’s managing to fall in, and the Silver Band had remained largely sober until after they’d done playing. Harry was relatively sure, despite Draco’s brave front, that ferret racing would not be a feature of the next year’s programme, but all in all, the first day had gone well.

When they had gone to bed, Draco had asked two drowsy questions, the first of which (‘Harry, what did that chap mean when he saw us and said, “God blind me, it’s the Fifth and Eleventh Doctors”? Did Dr Troyland have a number of brief-tenured predecessors as GP here?’) Harry had evaded answering. His answer to Draco’s second question (‘Aren’t most fêtes one-day affairs?’) had been brief: ‘Yes, love, but as ours coincides with the patronal festival –’: and had not been completed, for Draco had been fast asleep, his pink lips parted in an endearing ‘o’, before Harry was done speaking. Harry, looking tenderly at his new and future lover, was filled with elation: the questions were clear indications that Draco was beginning to see himself as making his home in Evelake, with Harry, from thenceforward.

In this, Harry was almost, yet not quite wholly, correct. Draco was very nearly sure that he should stay. He would, very much so: he willed it fiercely, with all his demanding heart. Yet even now, he was not yet certain – not altogether – that he might, that it was allowed. He knew himself to be in a highly magical place, joining his life with that of the Master of the Hallows of Britain; yet there was in this place, the Isle of Avalon, a touchstone more ancient and potent than the Hallows, far more intimately a part of the Matter of Britain. Even as he slept, Draco could not yet wholly relax into the future he so avidly desired.

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The strife was o’er, the battle done. It was Sunday, the Patronal Feast (translated) of St Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr. The afternoon would see the conclusion of the fête: Devon step-dancing, a Wurzels tribute band, the much-loved Punch and Judy, bowls for the prize of one of Harry’s geese, a dog show, and a limited-overs match between the village XI and those cunning rival buggers from Cleave St Urith. There would be no Evensong tonight, for the Rector, after his annual fit of intemperate language and bloody-minded temperament, had, as every year he did, given way to the inevitability of a nondenominational community service at the Wesleyan chapel.

For Draco, what he obscurely felt was to be the final test was before him, and the events of the afternoon were far from his thoughts as their party trailed towards the parish church, so ‘gallantly builded’[2] against the morning skies.

The news that he and Harry had at last found their way to one another, the festival and the fête, the Summer hols and the long vac., his triumphal establishment of his innocence, all these had worked together to bring the better part of Wizard-dom, it seemed, to stop at Aveline House: that blond muscle-god who could not be, yet was, Harry’s cousin and erstwhile tormentor, Dudley Dursley, with Elspeth (née Bulstrode) his lady wife and their bewitching daughter Harriet; Aunt Andromeda, coolly elegant and every inch a Black, walking graciously beside the coolly elegant Narcissa – and giggling like a schoolgirl with Molly Weasley, to her right; all the Weasleys with respective spouses and offspring, Hermione keeping a watchful eye on her excited father-in-law (‘I say! Isn’t that a brand-new Muggle combine harvester?’).[3] Nev and Luna were looking in, with the Scamander twins, for Harry’s sake foregoing the coolth and meditative silence of the meeting-house of a First Day, and the indwelling of the Inner Light; Blaise and Justin were politely present, though the first regarded the C of E as mere Romans manqué and the second was highly suspicious, in his East Anglian churchmanship, of the Rector’s undoubted High Church proclivities. Dean and Seamus, Chapel and Irish Catholic, had not disdained to attend. Indeed, all their friends were with them, Pansy and Theo – who paced along as if preparing to take the Bench – with the Ackerleys and Greg Goyle: even now somewhat shaky, after all these years: who was conversing awkwardly on a topic of common interest – the breeding of owls[4] – with Hagrid. James was present, and Lily, very much on parade in support of their father; Al and Scorpius – for Albie had soon seduced his lover into sharing his passions – had gone ahead, and were even now, with the rest of the ringers, rapt in their high, solemn, Arithmantic art of ringing changes. It was like, Harry thought with joyous inconsequence, a wedding party; and the air was as sweet as Sops in Wine[5] and as dry and still as the finest mature cider.

Draco had eyes for none save Harry – save that he caught Hubert Henry Ackerley as he went past, and pressed upon him a small phial, the same small phial that Narcissa had given Draco on Friday. Hubert Henry looked gravely at the golden liquid, leaping with potential, and as gravely at Draco as he returned it. ‘Thank you,’ said he politely, ‘but I shan’t want it.’

The festival service on the feast of their patron was as rich as lardy-cake, or the Rector’s port-fed countenance. Like the Church of England itself, it was a compromise, a reconciling of opposites, a via media established as a modus vivendi. Mr Avent and Dr Thorning had been given their heads; Sir Harry had ruled that the service should be Sumsion in A and D;[6] and the Rector had been solaced with hymns and anthems. It ought not to have worked; yet it did.

Harry and Draco took their prescriptive place in the Aveline pew just as Mr Avent began to play the opening notes of the Voluntary, the F major Pastorale, BWV 590.[7] Harry sat back with relief to listen to the Bach that in his maturity – and particularly in the dark days after Ginny’s murder – he had come to cherish and in which he had found comfort, a severe mercy.

The processional, then: the Rector had for once resisted the temptation of ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’,[8] and the slovenly crocodile, cleric and choristers and crucifer, shambled in to the strains of ‘The God of Abraham praise’.[9]

Draco followed with unwonted attention the Collect: what would become of him, how would he be judged, when all hearts were open, all desires known, and no secrets were hid?

He waited, alert, for the decision. He hoped, in the words of the Collect for the Day, that what he so fiercely desired was indeed one of ‘those things which be profitable for us’; but he would abide the judgement, knowing at last that he need not be the master of his fate and the captain of his soul. He knew this much at least: Harry had twice been stripped of the love of a family, had lost his parents when small and his wife in what ought by rights to have been their best years; if he, Draco, were permitted to stay and to be Harry’s, he would devote his life to seeing to it that Harry was never again left loveless and alone.

The Epistle,[10] with its themes of sonhood and inheritance, was finished, and choir and congregation sang out for all the saints, who from their labours rest. They rose for the Gospel:[11]

Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.


It was the patronal festival, and extra anthems be-starred the horizon of the service: before the sermon, then, the choir once more: Parry, ‘I was glad when they said unto me : We will go into the house of the Lord’, full and ringing clear.[12] Draco only hoped he should be glad of it, at the end, quite literally, of the day.

The Rector’s sermon, combining with surprising delicacy and elegance the fruits of the Spirit and of the earth with the unseen fruits of virginity and martyrdom, rolled to a magniloquent close, done and Donne.

Who goeth a warfare at any time of his own cost? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

He that soweth little shall reap little; and he that soweth plenteously shall reap plenteously. Let every man do according as he is disposed in his heart, not grudging, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.


And the choir gave of its best: Stanford once more, ‘How beauteous are the feet’.[13]

The Prayer for the Church Militant, next – Draco had never felt less militant in his life – the General Confession and the Absolution, and the Comfortable Words that could not yet comfort him.

And now the Preface and Sursum corda, the Sanctus and the Benedictus, the Prayer of Humble Access; and now, at last, the test. He had done much evil, and repented it but late; it was marked yet in his very flesh.

The Rector was well into his stride now, the old words familiar in his mouth yet ever new, reciting the Prayer of Consecration. The elements were touched with the Real Presence of Grace, and Draco held his breath. He could feel, palpable as Harry’s firm arm in its sleeve beside him, that Presence, in that chalice the Grail, weighing, yes, but not in anger, less judging than merciful, purging and absolving: Behold, I make all things new.[14]

It was done. It was done, and his heart was now at last uplifted, several minutes after the Sursum corda had advised, but rising now untethered and free, and his spirit rejoiced in his saving. It was done, and in his potential rather than in his past, he had passed the test.

With grave and solemn joy he joined Harry and the parish and the Universal Church, the whole state of the Church Militant on Earth (‘Oremus pro universo statu Ecclesiæ Christi hic in terra militantis’) and, in the communion of saints, all those who had gone before, Swithin and Margaret and George and Godric, Alban and Petroc and Aldhelm, the Church Triumphant and at rest, and communicated.

The anthem sounded, then, much-anticipated, the Mendelssohn, ‘Hear my prayer’, taken first by Cecil Stumbles with profound calm assurance, and brought in the final treble passage (‘O for the wings of a dove’) to an innocently triumphant conclusion, without the aid of Felix felicis, by a beaming Hubert Henry Ackerley.

The Lord’s Prayer again, and the Thanksgiving, the Gloria in Sumsion’s sprightly setting,[15] his heart joining every word, and the Dismissal he had already anticipated in peace, the peace that passeth all understanding.[16]

And as the Recessional hymn swelled – ‘O martyrs young and fresh as flowers’[17] – he found himself taking the tenor melody in harmony with Harry’s bass part, and their hands met and held, clasped firmly around a future that was at last in their grasp.

Afterwards, after the closing Voluntary (the C major prelude and fugue, BWV 553,[18] followed by the G major Fantasia, BWV 572),[19] he stopped in the church porch with Harry. ‘Come along, Potter. We’d do well to herd this gaggle back to our place.’

It was a vow, and Harry, forgetful of where they were, until blushingly recalled by general and genial applause, kissed him soundly then and there.

‘He’s good for you, Dad,’ said Albus.

Harry smiled, and quoted the Wurzels: ‘Doan tell I, tell ’ee.’[20]



[1] The youngest Wurzel.

[2] Said of the English fleet that faced the Armada, by Hawkins, or by Drake, or by Howard of Effingham, or by someone, surely.

[4] Snaffled up from I believe, the good dolorous_ett.

[10] Rom. 8.12.

[11] Matt. 7.15.

[14] Rev. 21.5.

[16] Phil. 4.7; referenced in the dismissal and blessing after Communion: ‘The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen’: for the unchurched and the Dissenters, you may find it here: http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/index.html.

[20] ‘Don’t tell me: tell him’: a classic Wurzels song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-I48sb2R_c.

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