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Lessons and Carols: an Evelake Christmas, pt 2 of 2 - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Lessons and Carols: an Evelake Christmas, pt 2 of 2

 

5.         I know a rose-tree springing

            … the spirit of counsel and might….

 

Kingsley and his family had wasted no time in hastening to Aveline House; and Kingsley wasted less time still in appointing Harry to do whatever wanted doing.  Aid to the civil power, Theo called it, rather grudgingly: Theo, like Percy, never liked to see the formalities disregarded.

 

Draco, relegated, as he could not help but feel it, to the role of chatelaine – and if this was Harry’s view of their relationship, they wanted to have a long talk as soon as time could be spared, and if this was how Harry had dealt with Ginny, Draco shouldn’t have been at all surprised had she hexed or divorced him, had she lived – Draco, rather disgruntled, watched as people streamed through the Floo; dealt with elves frantically airing rooms and casting warming charms; and stalked through the kitchens, in which elves and Wizards and Witches were busily making soup and baking apple cakes and stewing apples and baking hams in cider.  He shuddered.  This was his deepest secret, the secret he could not bring himself to reveal, least of all to Harry.  Every day, since the fête, he had come to love Harry more and more; and every day, since the fête, since coming to live with Harry and becoming his partner, he had become more and more steadily tired of apples.  Apples in everything; cider with everything: life in Avalon was all very well, but he was as heartily tired of apples as the Pevensey children at the Cair.  This had been the real reason behind his hysterical reaction to the cock-up with the cellars – which reminded him, he must trudge down there again and –

 

‘Draco!  There you are, love.  Thank you for all this: you’ve been a brick, and we’d be lost without you.’  Ah, Draco thought, so that’s how the bugger does it.  One compliment and I’m resigned to my fate.  I suppose it worked on Ginny, as well.  Cunning, Potter, very cunning.  ‘Can you be spared, though?  Kingsley and I are in want of counsel, and there’s no one else I quite trust.’  Cunning, Draco thought again, and, melting, followed.

 

‘Hullo, Draco.’

 

‘Minister.’

 

‘It’s still “Kingsley” to you, and you know it.  I’ve just had speech of Susan Bones.  Tell me: do you think it wise to evacuate Mungo’s to here?  They’re fairly certain that the charms will hold even against this weather, but if they’re wrong….’

 

‘I … yes.  I quite see.  And yet, if we bring them here – and with Muggles in the parish – and there’s an epidemic, well – you needn’t have that scroll quilled for you.’  He thought, hard.  ‘We’ll have to chance it.  We’ve a cottage hospital that can be expanded, and Dr Troyland, well, she’s of an old Evelake family, and the Muggles here, for one reason and another, never do notice anything out of the way.  Cushiest job ever scheduled to the Muggle-Worthy Excuses Committee, really.  I say we chance it: I think we must do, there’s no real alternative.’

 

Kingsley smiled.  ‘Tina, in fact.  The very first Muggle PM I ever dealt with, well before the War, was notorious for that stance.’  Odd chap, sometimes, Shacklebolt, thought Draco.  ‘Well, I’m outvoted, then, two against one.  Be it unto me according to thy word, then.  Harry, carry on; Draco, if you would, let’s go apply some Wizarding space to a Muggle building, shall we?’

_____________________________________

6.         The first good joy that Mary had

            … be it unto me according to thy word.

 

‘Dad!  Hullo, this is an unexpected surprise.’

 

‘Jamie.  Most surprises are, you know, by definition.  How bad is it there?’

 

‘Well, I’ve never seen weather like it, which is perhaps not saying much, but the RSM says he’s never seen anything like it, which is a good deal more.  Even so, I expect I shall be able to come home tomorrow on my cherished and arduously-earnt leave.’

 

‘Not until Christmas, mid-day, I’m afraid.  I’m sorry to say that this is an official call.’

 

Instantly, James Sirius Potter ceased to be Jamie speaking with his dad, and became orderly officer of the Scots Aurors awaiting the orders of a Field-Auror Marshal and former CMGS on the Retired List.

 

‘Urquhart is still your Old Man, I believe?  Quite.  Sorry to lumber him with this, but it’s fated, his parents really oughtn’t to have named him “Francis”, it was obvious no good would come of it.  Worse than “Elvendork”, really.  Kingsley and I are here, and we’re effectively evacuating the whole of Wizard-dom to ETS, Cleave, and Pommeroy until this damned thing blows itself out.  Now.  Please tell your colonel from me as follows.  The East Anglians will attend upon the Royals at Sandringham until precisely midnight Christmas.  At 12.1 on the 25th December, your regiment will relieve the East Anglians.  So soon as the Royal Family shall have attended service and shaken off the press, the Scots Aurors shall transport them here, discreetly, by Side-Along Apparition and by Thestral-drawn carriage where available, with consideration to age and rank: you’ll draw carriages and Thestrals from Hogwarts, which is why you lot get the honour.  I expect HM and party to be here by no later than 1.0 of the afternoon.  Do you have that, or shall I repeat it?’

 

‘I have it, sir.’  Jamie paused, clearly reflecting.  ‘Well, this will make the Avelyn Hunt’s Boxing Day meet interesting, won’t it.’

_____________________________________

7.         Alleluia!  I bring you news of great joy

            … there was no room for them in the inn.

 

‘YOU DID WHAT?’

 

The young Ministry functionary was rightly alarmed, but not sufficiently so: he attempted to defend his actions to a very angry Sir Harry.  ‘But, sir!  Hags?  Giants?  Centaurs?  You haven’t the room, for one, and surely the Minister didn’t mean for beings to evacuate here, with Wizards –’

 

Draco, happening upon this scene in the freezing dimpsey, in the wind-whipped stable yard, quite likely saved the young bureaucrat from a very unpleasant fate.  ‘Harry, Kingsley wants you.  I’ll sort this.’

 

As Harry Apparated away with a cannon-like sound, Draco bent his glare upon the youth.  ‘And you are?’

 

‘Baldwin Baddock-Bole, DRCMC.’

 

‘Ah.  I know many of your people.  Old Slytherin?’

 

‘My family sent me to Durmstrang, actually.’

 

‘And we actually let you into the Ministry, even as a tea-boy?  Someone will have explanations to give.  Do I correctly understand that you have attempted to turn away Centaurs and other beings?’

 

‘Well, of course – surely as a matter of policy –’

 

‘Policy, my lad, is not set by underlings, jumped-up jacks in office, and bigoted little bureaucrats of neither seniority nor sense.  As the Minister is inside just now, do feel free to send and ask him.  Now, I shall tell you what you are going to do, whilst I perforce repair your errors and renew our invitation to those you presumed to turn away.  Firstly, you will muck out: the Centaurs will quite likely wish those stables as accommodation, and the Shire horses won’t mind sharing.  You will then return to the Ministry, and sit quietly in the Centaur Office until relieved, which may be some time; and you will say nothing to anyone, nor communicate with anyone in any way.  I hope for your sake that the climatic charms hold.  And to see that you do just this, I shall now summon Bill Weasley, and – on the assumption that you should prefer to be employed and at liberty – he will act as the Binder for the Unbreakable Vow you are going to be taking, you unmitigated little shit.’

_____________________________________

8.         ‘A, my dere, a, my dere Son’

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

 

It was Monday, the 23d December, and the greater part of the British Wizarding world was evacuated to Evelake, from the still spry Minerva to the newest Macmillan.  From Cleave to Pommeroy, Wizards and beings were sheltered and secure.  In barn and stable, beings rested; in the cottage hospital, Wizards gathered their strength after the difficult transfer from St Mungo’s.  At Aveline House as in cottages and the parish church and the Jacobean almshouses, there was warmth and light.  Nev had managed Christmas trees for all, and Luna had somehow found fairies for them.  Harry and Kingsley shepherded their charges, and the Rector found it in himself to give pastoral care.  Draco, slumped in a chair, thinking of his lost wine, the mass of refugees in the cellar, and the imminent prospect of receiving royalty without a drop of claret in the house, was quietly going spare.

 

Narcissa, Scorpius, and Albie were having none of it.  Like so many border collies with a hapless wether, they herded him into one of the drawing rooms now turned into a crèche.  At one end, Sir Lewis and Lady Duckworth were imperturbably umpiring a game of indoor cricket (Draco recognised, with dismay, his favourite cardinal socks as forming the greater part of the makeshift ball).  At the other, the Rector was toasting himself before a roaring fire, and out-roaring it, addressing a rapt audience of the infants and the younger children.  Even so, every so often the wild wind would make a low, organ-pedal sound in the great chimney, out-roaring even the Rector: if it’s this bad, Draco reflected, in the Vale where falls not hail, nor rain, nor any snow, nor ever wind blows loudly, it must be hellish everywhere else.

 

‘… the Three Magi,’ said Dr Vickers, ‘whom we shall see again at Epiphany.  Now, I hope you all know the story – unless your parents are wholly unchurched, which wouldn’t, actually, surprise me in the least from the looks of them – of the Three Kings and the gifts that they brought.  But Sir Harry tells me that there’s more to the tale – eh, Harry?’

 

Harry smiled, and with the brisk competence of a father of three, gathered the children’s attention with a glance.

 

‘There were,’ said he, ‘three kingly mages, and their names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.  Now, Caspar was an old, wise man, hale but wise with many winters, and his eyes were like a winter’s day and his hair and beard as white as snow.  Melchior was a mage of middle years, lean and brown as a nut, and he was a wandering holy man, a hermit and a sannyasi, and wandered in all weathers with his begging bowl, going clad in saffron.  And Balthazar was a young man, tall and strong, from Ethiopia, a prince of Abyssinia, where the incense trees grow, and he looked rather like the Minister, but not so bald, you know.

 

‘And these three felt a calling and a tugging at their hearts, and saw a star that was new to their heavens; and it led them, and they met in the East, where the trade-routes crossed, at an old caravanserai.  A cold coming they had of it, too, in the worst of weathers, in the cold, dead heart of winter: but the Star led them ever onwards.

 

‘Now listen and attend, o best beloved!  Now, Caspar was a king in his own country, a lord of battle and a wise ruler, and he it was who went to seek a newborn king; and he gathered gold and riches, as a gift from one king to another.  And Melchior, he was a holy man, who had renounced the things of earth, and he was a seeker, and knew himself now to be seeking God and a priest of God, and Melchior had incense to offer in adoration.  But Balthazar was a prince and a seeker after wisdom and of God, all at once; and he had learnt by bitter experience the price of earthly glory and of wisdom and of service; and the bitter, holy myrrh was to be his gift: an anointing to service and to loss.

 

‘And so they set out together, the ways deep with snow and the weather sharp, the days short and the sun furthest off, each seeking the babe to be born a king and a holy man and God made flesh, and each believing that he had divined the mystery after his own kind.  And when they reached Bethlehem, they gave to the child their gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

 

‘And the holy child gazed upon each of the Magi, and they knew without words whom it was that they had found, and that he was more than their arts had foretold.  And, bowing, they withdrew, and went to their camels for another gift.  (The camels, kneeling and spitting and being obnoxious as camels will, were named Humph, Dot, and Chantry-Pigg, by the way.  Just so.)  And the three Mages took their saddlebags, and their gear, and their accoutrements, and returned to kneel before the holy child.

 

‘Old Caspar spoke first, as he knelt, and he had taken the great sword of his many battles from his belt, and laid it before the infant Jesus.  It looked very like a cross.  And he gave up his sword to the holy child, even though it was his sword of state and the symbol of his rule, saying, “Lord, you have come to bring, not peace, but this”; and he bowed his head and wept. 

 

‘Wise Melchior laid before the baby Jesus his crutch and his begging bowl, from his long hermit years as a wandering holy man; and he said, “Lord, take these, for foxes have holes and birds their nests, but you, the Son of Man, shall have no place to lay your head”; and he bowed his head and prayed.

 

‘But young Balthazar, strong Balthazar, honest Balthazar, he laid before the Anointed One, the Son of God, great fetters and shackles of iron, even as his foresight had seen of a time when men who called themselves Christians should do evil Hell itself would envy.  And he said, “Lord, you know that it is to serve that is greatest, and the last shall be first: you shall call all those who labour and are heavy-laden, and your yoke shall be easy, and your burden, light”: and the child smiled upon Balthazar, and he no longer knelt, but leapt up for joy.

 

‘And the three Magi departed, to their own countries, by secret ways, avoiding Herod.’

_____________________________________

9.         Three kings from Persian lands afar

            … they departed into their own country another way.

 

‘Ah! Splendid,’ said Horace Slughorn.  ‘Just the chaps I was in want of for the task!  My dear Hagrid – and young Goyle, good man.  Thank God you managed to return from – Provence, wasn’t it, my dear Rubeus?  Just so, I imagine the Channel crossing was dreadful.  And Olympe – excellent, excellent, they’ll be very glad of her assistance at Aveline House, I don’t doubt.  And you, my dear Gregory, are a very present help in time of trouble indeed.  Now, the very first thing I shall want your aid in, is to come with me to Guddle & Flugg, who have very kindly opened the shop for us in this dreadful emergency – always remember, Gregory, my dear young fellow, if you cannot trust your wine merchant, you must change him for another immediately – very good of young Flugg, I will say, I greatly regretted knocking him up at this hour, and so near to Christmas at that, but, there, needs must, you know – if you would be so good as to hand me that rather sordid tin that once held a very inferior Spotted Dick (never buy food in tins, young Goyle, or, rather, do, but only so that you needn’t starve in a weather emergency such as this): yes, that one, it’s regrettable that one must keep stray bits of battered rubbish that wanted binning yonks ago, isn’t it, but one really must have a few things about the house for use as emergency Portkeys, you know.  Excellent.  Now for the great slog to Guddle & Flugg – we could be Captain Scott and party, couldn’t we: shocking weather – and then we shall Portkey away to what I do trust and hope is warmth and comfort, eh?  Come along, my boys, come along, this is no time to stand about and talk, you know: allez!  Marchons!

_____________________________________

10.       O come, all ye faithful

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

The house-elves, like herald angels, had done their office, and all Wizard-dom was gathered in and safe, and the cold, hard night had fallen of Christmas Eve, the winds calm now but the air like iron.

 

It was Draco, a step before Harry, who opened the great doors of Aveline House, the light and warmth spilling out upon the hard, blank snow, to reveal the large forms of Hagrid, and Horace Slughorn, and a step behind, his eyes lost and anxious, Greg Goyle, still subtly shaking in his extremities from the horrors of a War now memory, and of his hard-won understanding, after, of his own culpability and folly.  The Great Slug was beaming, though, and Hagrid held in one vasty hand a rope tied to a sledge piled high with crates and cases that only magic could stack so deep, and all of them bearing the stamp of Guddle & Flugg, Wine Merchants, Budleigh Babberton, est. 1742.

 

Draco’s heart rose within him. Old Sluggers laughed, richly.

 

‘Not the best selection at this hour, m’boy, but we did our best!  Here, for example.  It’s a simple Vin de Pays d’Oc, mind, but I thought you might appreciate the apple notes in the nose.  A tribute, dear boy, if you will – as is this Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, lovely touch of cider – quite nice, really, with pheasant or a duck confit.  Or the Languedoc rouge, with lamb, perhaps, very pleasant with its cider and blueberry notes.  And Sauternes, of course, with the baked apple finish: very appropriate for afters in Avalon, you know!  A happy and apple-scented Christmas to you all!’

 

And Draco, as was meet, right, and his bounden duty, did his best, even as hope died in him, to feign being unfeignedly thankful – and then, in his own Christmas miracle, he saw the hope and apology in Greg’s face, and the honest satisfaction in Hagrid’s, and the sheer (if slightly self-satisfied and pompous) joy upon Slughorn’s, and he realised even as he spoke that he meant every word, as he said, ‘We’re so glad you were able to make it, and unspeakably grateful.  Do come in out of this: it’s the perfect gift, all of you.’  And only Harry knew that he wasn’t speaking of the wine.

_____________________________________

11.       Hark, the herald Wizards sing         

… glad with the yearly remembrance….

 

At 12.42 on Christmas Day, just in time for luncheon, HM and the Royal Family arrived, cold and red of cheek, to the warm sanctuary of Aveline House in the shadow of the church of the Grail.

 

Shortly thereafter, Draco simply smiled when a royal duke observed, ‘Quite decent wine, this – but do you know, what I should really like is some of your justly famous cider?  Shall we mull some?’

 

And HM added, ‘Sandringham’s all very well – thank you Jamie, I should like more sprouts – but I rather think we may make this an annual tradition, as Harry so kindly suggests.’

 

Draco looked down the table and caught Harry’s laughing eye; and decided, then and there, that cellar-books and Viennese New Years could go hang: for it was Christmas, and Harry’s eye was bright and full of promise, and Draco – who put no stock in divination, as a rule – was as certain as could be that when he unwrapped his very favourite gift that night, it would indeed be the perfect Christmas, of a hundred or so yet to come.

 

Mind, it was at that point that the youngest Boot expansively and comprehensively upset her soup, but it was the thought that counted.

_____________________________________

A very happy Christmas season to you all.

_____________________________________

 
 

 

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Comments
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: December 27th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)

All Black Ewe Lambs

"Narcissa, Scorpius, and Albie were having none of it. Like so many border collies with a hapless wether, they herded him..."

Heh-heh.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 27th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

I did of course have you in mind, there.

Spinning away.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: December 27th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I did of course have you in mind, there.

I know! Every little sheepy reference makes me giggle; thanks!
femmequixotic From: femmequixotic Date: December 27th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my. Oh my.

Can I take a moment to flail at you madly in utter glee before I compose myself and properly say thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us a wonderful Boxing Day gift like this?

Such an utter delight to read, as always, and I adore your Sir Harry and your Draco (really, the Unbreakable Vow for poor Baldwin Baddock-Bole was brilliant). The inclusion of the Magi--utter love, and I still want Dr Vickers to come take on my parish, please. \0/

And I love Draco throwing a strop over the wine until he finds out Greg was the one who screwed up. And Sluggy saving the day!

Pure brilliance. This just made my night, I have to tell you. When I loaded up my flist and saw you'd posted a fic--and a sequel to Zider at that--well. I couldn't quite restrain my squeals of delight, which may have caused my family to ask what on earth was making me so happy. :D

Thank you for sharing this! It's made me deliciously happy. \0/ (Also, I have to tell you, Noe is going to be absolutely delighted by the Hippogriffs of Fire and No Æon. Hee.)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 27th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you very much indeed.

You've been very kind, and you, like Noe, and my new friends since Zider, and my Tenth Legion who've so long made me a better writer (such as the sgt_majorette, above), were so much in my mind that I felt I really must show my gratitude with a small offering. I'm very glad you liked it, and greatly obliged to you that you not only said so, here, but have been kind enough, as I see, to recommend it on yr own journal.

A very happy Christmas and New Year to you, with my thanks.
hitsuzen_hime From: hitsuzen_hime Date: December 27th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
'if you cannot trust your wine merchant, you must change him for another immediately'

Dear Old Horace to the rescue, I simply adore the fact that he rousted his wine merchant in the middle of a blizzard to 'rescue' the booze. Merry Christmas indeed!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 27th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you - and welcome to Bedlam.

I do so love writing Sluggers, he's such fun. I'm very glad you liked the piece and gratified that you took the time to let me know, and to join the (knitting) circle: welcome.
hitsuzen_hime From: hitsuzen_hime Date: December 27th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you - and welcome to Bedlam.

It was and is, my pleasure. ;)
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: December 27th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you very much for this - a lovely thing to find when catching up with the flist. I particularly enjoyed Harry's rendition of the coming of the Magi - and your Slughorn is always a joy.

Merry Christmas, and a good new year when it comes!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 29th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

You are more than welcome.

I've been telling that version of the Magi for quite twenty years, actually. Feel free to half-inch it.
noeon From: noeon Date: December 28th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

After the birth of the simple light

A St. Stephen's Day feast, no less glorious for being consumed on the Feast of Holy Innocents (and oddly appropriate, with the children and the Magi). Kingsley as the Virgin and Balthazar as Kingsley are brilliant.

I concur with femmequixotic - Baldwin Baddock-Bole's Unbreakable Vow is superb and the mucking out of the stables too good for the 'unmitigated little shit'. Your Draco in high dunder dudgeon - of course, though I suspect I'm trying to give him any alternative spirit - is a joy to behold.

I can't believe Slughorn brought wines with apple notes and Sauternes. Draco's grace as chatelaine of Aveline House was sorely tested, although his experience of gratitude all the warmer for the test.

HM and the Royal Family arriving for luncheon were the gilt on the lily and the marzipan on the cake.

Sustain me with raisins and, yes, comfort me with apples, for I am faint with love for Evelake 'verse. St. Margaret, save us all.

(And now I shall have to read The Towers of Trebizond. And you did not put the apple orchards at Cair Paravel in. I wasn't looking.)

Edited at 2009-12-28 06:12 pm (UTC)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 29th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Would I do that?

(Evidently, yes, when you weren't looking.)

Thank you very much for such very kind words. I was having such fun, I am but glad it was communicated. This 'verse is growing on me as well.
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: December 30th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I was already well amused and delighted at the references to the Great Cold of 09 (now that I am no longer hostage to it), but the appearance of FU and being out-ridden by a Wales caused fits of giggles that should not be allowed in polite company. Thankfully, there is none here, so all was well. A delicious gift, and one that made me wish to be back in England (why I thought I wanted the best part of a week in Paris will remain a mystery to me). Thank you, and I hope that your Christmas was one of peace and your New Year will be one of great joy.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 30th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hostage to the cold?

That's a real Stockholm Syndrome, I take it?

Thank you, though, truly. Delighted to have been of service, m'dear, as your only jig-maker.

Best wishes to you and yours as well.
blamebrampton From: blamebrampton Date: December 30th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hostage to the cold?

That is a terrible pun.

Though you would have died of laughter had you seen me in Paris, with my thin Australian scarf wrapped twice around my head and topped with my llama cap in a bid to bring me up to pingrid's standards of a warm person. The next time she tells me that I need a cap with ears and gloves with cashmere lining, I will attend. These Scandinavians know about snow.
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