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More snippets from the WiP. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
More snippets from the WiP.

The sort of berks who persist, not merely in seeing sexual connotations in the most innocuous landscape and built environments, but rather in seeing nothing else save sexual connotations in the most innocuous landscape and built environments, reducing all things to a thrust of the loins: the people who derive the name of the River Kennet from ‘cunt’ rather than the Roman vicus of Cunetio, now Mildenhall, and attach a wombed and titted significance to Silbury: have, no doubt, their own, moist, thoughts concerning the mill and the ford beside.


More sober etymologists simply accept the fact that there has been a


… little mill that clacks,
So busy by the brook …
She has ground her corn and paid her tax
Ever since Domesday Book;


and that the ford above the mill at Twatford Mulliner has been ‘Twatford’ time out of mind.


Nonetheless, in a world more full of berks than of sober scholars, it had seemed good to Harry and Draco to market their organic – and accordingly dearly-priced – line of flour, under a name less likely to startle the conscientiously broad-minded but instinctively puritan mums of Kensington and Notting Hill.  Drawing upon and playing about with the local pronunciation of Twatford, they had hit upon a mark that conveyed perfectly what the grimly-determined searchers for organic foods secretly most desired, a name easily called, easily remembered, freighted with faux-mediævalist associations in the best William Morris style, and insinuating the snob appeal secretly irresistible to their target market: Tabard Mills.  The rude hinds of ‘Twaaavverd Mulner’ long before, would have been approving, amused, in their canny, smocked, moonraking fashion, at this new form of getting it over on the excise-man. 


Even as they began selling without the region as ‘Tabard Mills’, Draco and Harry had realised that, locally, they were far better advised to sell what they milled, and to mill what was brought in for milling under fee, under the Twatford Mulliner name; and later still, Draco had realised that the sort of people who had first enthused over Tabard Mills’s product, could be made to pay still more for a line of milled stuff marginally more selective, considerably dearer in price, and given the transgressive name, which could not be condemned due to its great antiquity, of Twatford.  The initial and swiftly suppressed wince of urban women of both sexes, followed by the falsely knowing and falsely sophisticated middle-class smile, became itself a selling point.  There were times, Draco reflected, that he could well have been the perfect eminence grise to Dave Cameron.


Harry had a superstitious half-belief in such incantatory – and, Draco insisted, quite meaningless or quite silly – names and concepts as ‘Fair Trade’ certification, and Draco had a Slytherin determination to use any means to levy all that the trade would bear on anything they sold from the Estates, with the result that the Mill and all its product, like the whole of the agricultural product from cider to lamb, was gleefully made available, at the appropriate tariffs, on several schedules, organic, organic – Fair Trade, and ‘traditional (conventional)’ – meaning, neither.


It saddened Draco that they could not further capitalise on their owning an ancient mill by taking on tour groups and running a small shop beside, but it was difficult enough creating and maintaining an illusion of machinery sufficient to fool the local farmers who wanted their corn threshed and the local thatchers who’d contracted for the straw and tended to gather at the mill and socialise with the farmers.  There was simply no workable means of running tours of ‘an ancient, working mill, children, won’t that be exciting’ whilst somehow putting a human-like glamour on the house-elves who ran the damned thing.

*********************

Harry was well aware – it amused him, secretly, and he was wise enough to keep that amusement strictly secret – that Draco was far more ‘high maintenance’ than was ever any pre-Conquest mill.  Harry was well aware, also, that Draco was simply incapable of imagining a life without money, and always wanted yet more, even as he was picky, not to say, snobbish, about the sources of that income.  Traditionally, gentlemen were not in trade; but traditionally also, selling off the crops of his extensive acres was very much a gentleman’s prerogative, and did not count as ‘trade’, thank you.  Accordingly, Draco could contemplate with equanimity a marketing campaign for, say, spelt, and even the creation of a shop at the Mill, selling flour and Tabard Mills tat and serving cream teas, whilst recoiling from the merest hint that they were involved in commerce.  True to his blood, upbringing, and class, Draco had never grasped, could not even conceive, the romance of trade.  Indeed, no more could Nev, no more had Sirius, or indeed James Potter, or even, in the main, Albus; only Arthur, dimly, and Aberforth, and Gred and Forge, had done, to anything like the extent to which Harry grasped it.  Draco, when they were dragged up to town, to Diagon or the Ministry or something of that sort, could and did listen for hours to, and make incisive comments upon, politics, economics, and indeed philosophy, the old PPE trinity.  But Harry possessed the sort of cast of mind that became alert and interested, that wanted to know the practical and hands-on details, when a Dye Urn alley shop foreman spoke or a small shopkeeper in Diagon talked of the ins and outs of his daily trade, or Corner and Carmichael reminisced about the things they saw on their daily Auror’s rounds down the docks, policing E division in the Wizarding Docklands, the Fleet Basin and the Isle of Crups.

*********************

The sky was blue above them, blue with that improbability of blueness that seems almost unnatural, artificial, too good to be true: a blueness that belongs rather to Constable’s palette than to the light of common day.  The narrowboat glided upon the waters, calling up all the bell-mouthed associations that that mage of rhetoricians, old Will the glover’s boy, had bestowed upon narrowboats and barges, Nilotic, Cleopatran; calling up, also, the wealth of associations long accreted to lighters, barges, and narrowcraft in England: Mr Toad heading for home after a misunderstanding involving a motorcar, fat London aldermen full of ale and turtle soup, Bluff King Hal at Hampton Court, the pomp of merchantry in the days when the wool towns thrived, three men in a boat – to say nothing of the dog Montmorency – giving way to the traffic of an Empire, guilds and livery companies on the feast days of their patron saints, the mediæval wool clip and the sherris-sack from Bristol; John Taylor, Gloucester-born, plying the Thames in Shakespeare’s own time, the Water Poet, and Thomas Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race, still maintained by the Worshipful Company of Watermen and Lightermen; Severn trows and West Country barges….


Town and bridge, field and meadow and wood, church and churchyard under the yew, farm and pasture, sheep safely grazing and sweet-breathed, doe-eyed milch-cows beneath the oak, bowls on the green and cricket on the pitch, the click of the bowl upon the jack for a toucher and the snick of the bails when a batsman was clean-bowled, treble-arched town bridge and packhorse bridge, swan and heron, angler and rambler, and always the pollarded willows on the bank.  The towns turned their best faces to the water, warmly-coloured Chilmark stone crisp in the lambency of morning’s light, Georgian and placid, mediævally assertive with all the pomp of burgess’s chain and guild-master’s rich fur tippet, unshakeably secure in imperial Victorian brick or ashlar.


The towpath in the country reaches was the colour of asters or champagne, and walkers and the occasional tow-horse kicked up dust as fine as meal.


The water was cool, and suggested a greater coolth still: smooth and glassy as a bowl of dripping awaiting the Sunday joint, it seemed almost gelid, as if it were as chilled and bracing as the long drinks of summer, the Pimm’s Cup and pink gin, the Buck’s fizz and the gin and tonic, that they sipped as all the world slid slowly past the fixed point of the narrowboat upon the still waters.

*********************

‘You must remember, Harry, that at the time – before your post-War reforms – the Moot was at once a parliament, and a court of judicature as well, and of appeal.  I was the Chief Warlock.  I could not intervene in the Moot lest the case come before me.  I could not intervene after because the case never came before me.’


Harry glared at Albus’s portrait.  ‘You’d the right to die for your principles.  And you did do.  But this was Sirius!  You had no right to allow others to die for your damned principles and points of law!  If you weren’t already dead, damn you, I’d kill you myself!  What sort of man sacrifices, not himself only, but others, for a legal principle?’


‘One who is our sort, Harry.’


‘You –’


‘My dear Harry, you were always willing to sacrifice yourself for a few basic principles.  Can you truthfully tell me that you did not sacrifice others to your principles?’


‘I.  You … you manipulative, smug, self-satisfied, pi-jawing old bastard.’


‘Perfectly true.  I do not ask that you like what you now recognise.  I do encourage you to reflect upon the rather uncomfortable fact that it is adherence to principle that distinguishes a young man such as yourself from, say, the young Tom Riddle – and all that Tom became.’

******************************

‘I’m impressed,’ a voice called from outwith the mill.  The speaker entered, black against the spill of light.  As he came closer, his figure resolved into that of the Brigadier.  ‘Harry.  Afternoon.  Good to see a young chap who’s a man of his hands.  The both of you, I gather.  In addition to your numerous other talents that no one ever speaks of, you make a competent miller, I see, not a mere owner.’


‘Yes, well,’ said Harry, with a grin, ‘I have leat skills.’


Draco snorted, from the stone-floor, above, and descended to stand by Harry next the meal bin, there on the meal-floor of the mill. 


‘All well?’


Draco nodded.  ‘The stone-floor and the bin-floor are all square.  Your own inspection went well, I take it?’


‘Sluice is fine, penstock’s fine, pentrough’s fine, waterwheel’s fine, main shaft and pit wheel right as rain.  We shall, though, be wanting to replace a few cogs on the spur wheel by the end of the month, I suspect.’


‘Well, at least it’s only cogs, that’s easy enough.  It’s the iron that gets dicey, when it’s the wallower, say.  Have we cogs in hand?’


‘We do.  Seasoned applewood from Pottersfield, or seasoned hornbeam from Starveall.  I’ll be as glad to be shed of the beechwood cogs we inherited, frankly, they’re just not quite up to the mark.’


Draco nodded, again.  ‘Apple and hornbeam are always best.  There’s sense in the traditions, you know.  As to which to choose between ’em, it makes no odds, I think.’


‘Yes,’ said Harry.  ‘When in doubt, consult the accumulated wisdom of centuries.  Whether milling, or considering what is laughingly called the British constitution.’


‘Ah,’ said the Brigadier.  ‘I did wonder why it was you wanted to have speech of me, away from m’ aunt.’


‘Ye-esss,’ said Harry, evidently reluctant.  ‘I’m afraid, rather, that it is a matter of aid to the civil power.’


‘Right,’ said the Brigadier, crisply.  ‘Let’s have it, then.’


‘You’ve met Kingsley Shacklebolt?’  Draco thought it best to make sure.


‘Yes, as a matter of fact.  Young Creevey performed introductions, once – after his lady wife elbowed him in the ribs to recall his mind to the duty.  He liaises, I gather, does your Mr Shacklebolt.’


‘Yes, on occasion.  Has done for some time,’ said Harry.  Then he smiled.  ‘I remember his first bit liaising, actually, when John Major was PM and Draco and I were still at school.  Kingsley’s no innocent, but he’s relentlessly apolitical –’


‘Quite right,’ said the Brigadier, with marked approval.


‘Well, yes, but it did lead him to drop the occasional brick.  Our then Minister wanted the PM urgently, and Kingsley made the memorable mistake of explaining that the PM had – unfortunate choice of words, really – “stepped out for a quick curry”.  The powers were not best pleased.’


The Brigadier chortled.  ‘Oh, Lor’.  I do see the problem.  But tell me your current problem, please.’


‘We want to lose a couple of dentists for a few months.’


‘What the devil am I to do with two dentists?  Put them up at Shrivenham?’


‘Precisely.’  Harry’s tone was diffident, understanding of the imposition, but immovable for all that.  ‘Kingsley can give you fuller particulars, but.  The fact is, they’re quite nice people, really, and their daughter – Ron’s wife, in fact, you’ve met Hermione – has a job of work in hand that makes it best that they not be where they could be, ah –’


‘Snatched and used as hostages?’


‘Well, yes, actually.’


‘Service family?’


‘Yes and no,’ said Draco, judiciously.  ‘In their private lives, they’re appalling Wets, muesli-eaters, sandal-wearers, LibDems, no doubt.  And astonishingly innocent with it, they truly believe that the world is a peaceful place in which evil is sporadic and has root causes that could be addressed and – appeased.  Everyone’s good-hearted at bottom, and if only society were a bit better planned, everyone would be decent and kind and we’d live in a sort of Guardian of
Eden.’


The Brigadier harrumphed, and the three exchanged a commiserating look, reflecting on such pitiably invincible innocence and what the real world would do to it, given the chance.


‘On the other hand,’ said Harry, ‘this would not, actually, be their first contact with our world – I mean, the one we all know.’

*********************

It had been the summer after Hermione’s sixth year at school.  Hermione’s principles, and her rather exaggerated respect for authority, had not – for various reasons, not least her own interest – moved her to shatter her parents’s blissful ignorance of what threatened her world, and theirs.  But now, of course, there was little choice.  They had been alarmed enough by the Ministry’s cack-handed bumf telling, or purportedly telling, Muggle-born students’s households how to protect themselves, and what a load of duff gen that had been.  As one might have expected, they had been torn between their convictions that people were in the main decent and that even those whom a government labelled ‘terrorists’ might not be so black as they were painted, and their fiercely protective parental instincts that so often tempted them to try to keep Hermione safely wrapped in cotton-wool (a tactic she rebounded upon them when it came to not mentioning details of the Voldemort situation, it may be added).  In the end, their fears had, initially, been assuaged.  But this was no longer wise, nor even practicable. 


Fortunately, the Order – or, rather, Tonks, Kingsley, and, above all, Alastor Moody – had undertaken to resolve Hermione’s dilemma for her.  The first approach had been made before she could quite screw her courage to the sticking point and tell Mr and Mrs Granger the awful truth of the war now breaking out in the Wizarding world.  They had first been approached at their shared surgery, by a rather older gentleman – a Mr Ted Tonks (‘“Tinker”, you know, been called that since I was at m’ prepper, hardly know to answer to anything else’) – who, he explained, had recently changed dental health insurance packages, and been referred to Mr Granger accordingly.  (Mr Granger kept the family very comfortably afloat with his rather remunerative practice, allowing Mrs Granger to burnish their socially-conscious principles by performing NHS dentistry for the impoverished and exempted.)  After that, a succession of middle-aged and elderly gentlemen of a certain stamp had turned up in the oddest places, crossing paths with the Grangers, all of them sharing a few salient characteristics: they spoke quietly of subjects that assured the Grangers that they were part of Hermione’s world (and it was they who, citing the Statute of Secrecy as having prohibited Hermione from being forthright with her parents until then, pre-empted a blazing row between parents and daughter over Hermione’s having been rather less than forthcoming with them); they were rather evidently in mufti; and they displayed that combination of self-effacement amongst civilians with a hidden but occasionally discernible air of sharp command, that is the identifying characteristic of the British officer at large amongst the general public.


What they told the Grangers, chilled them, not unnaturally, to the maxillæ.  Worse still was the realisation that Hermione, the eldest of the Gryffindor Trio, was now come of age under Wizarding law, and could, if she wished, take her place in the very line of battle without their having any say in the matter.  They were not, to their credit, at all motivated by any fear or cowardice, but they were assisted to grasp quickly the danger they were in, and the greater danger they might pose to Hermione and the world as a whole were they to be seized by Voldemort, whether as martyrs or as hostages.  It was for this reason alone that they seized, with whatever reservations and dubieties, the solution the Order and their discreet contacts in Muggle officialdom presented them with.


‘After all, damn it all,’ Tinker Tonks had said, ‘not even his self-styled lordship, Voldewhassit, is likely to take on the lot we’d be hiding you amongst.  What?  Of course we can manage this, do it all the time, the devil d’you think was the reason for movin’ all the Muggles out of Imber durin’ Grindelwald’s time?’


Of course, the cover, the legend, that went with it could not be kept from all their Muggle acquaintance.  Mrs Granger did her best to face it out, indeed she became lightly passionate in defence of the position.  ‘But, darling,’ she explained to one of her friends at a party, ‘it’s precisely the same as NHS dentistry.  Just because these unfortunate members of the underclass have taken the Queen’s shilling doesn’t mean they oughtn’t to have dental care.  And with those awful Tories, surely, on the way out soon, well, really, it’s quite a respectable means of social service.’  But the Grangers’s friends were not persuaded, and they soon ceased to go to those parties.


Soon enough, the Grangers found themselves far removed, both spiritually and bodily, from their well-loved house in Tufnell Park and their old familiar surgery, and staggering bewildered through the Vicars-and-Tarts course at RMA Sandhurst.  Fortunately for them, Harry – and Hermione and Ron, and some rather unlikely allies alongside the old Order – put paid to Tom Riddle before they could be caught up too permanently in this strange new life, but the fact remained that they emerged from the short course for professionally-qualified officers and their brief first postings as very different people to the Grangers who had first found themselves blundering about the Wish Stream in Dettingen Company for their TAPQO course.  Yet they remained themselves, even now, resolutely high-minded and conscientiously liberal, and Harry and Draco felt no small remorse in shoving them off on the Brigadier.

*********************

‘Hmph,’ said the Brigadier.  ‘No damned idea what they can contribute at Shrivenham, but we’ll set them to some work.’


‘I’m terribly sorry to do this to you –’


‘No, you’re not, or if you are you damned well oughtn’t to be.  We’re all the centurions of the Gospel, after all, and men under authority.  Orders are orders, if lawful, not set topics for a debating society.  I’ll work it out with Shacklebolt, and you’ll be kept advised.’


A week later, the
Defence Academy at Shrivenham and JSCSC welcomed the newly posted Maj Edmund John Robert Granger QHDS DDS MSc BDS FDSRCS RADC (TA) and Maj Helen Joan Charlotte Granger QHDS MSc MClinDent BChD FInstD RADC (TA).  This was welcomed with quiet rejoicing by Mrs Watson, the Grangers’s char, who had borne up nobly and in silence for years under Mrs Granger’s irritating insistence on pretending that they were friends and social equals one of whom just happened to work for the other, and Mrs Granger’s refusal to leave off wishing to be addressed as ‘Helen’ and calling Mrs Watson by her Christian name of ‘Edna’.

******************************

‘Consider this, also, Harry, my dear boy.  We cannot know, of course, what might have happened had I gone outside the law to seek what was, we both agree, justice for Sirius.  But it may well be that the day would then have come, upon which, looking back, we had all three of us wished I had never done.’


Harry frowned, but, reluctantly, allowed himself to consider what Albus’s portrait was saying.  His mind conjured the images.  Sirius, freed.  Sirius, his godfather, taking him from the Dursleys to raise, to love, to be a father to him.  But also a Ministry in shambles, all but open internecine war between the Ministry factions and a faction largely coterminous with the membership of the Order.  A Wizarding world distracted, squabbling, even more disunited than had been the case.  The Weasleys placed in an impossible position, Arthur made redundant by the Ministry, Ron embittered by still more grinding poverty, the Order itself beginning to split.  And then – Voldemort’s return, to a distracted and more than ever divided Wizarding world and a fractured Order trying and failing to oppose him as the world sank in flame and a sickly flare of green light, going down before a Voldemort who had found them easier prey than Harry had ever feared at the worst of moments….


‘I hate you the most when you’re right, you know.’


Albus smiled from the canvas, eyes twinkling infuriatingly.  He knew, and Harry knew, that the lad – young man, now – truly meant, ‘I love you, I miss you, you’re family to me.’  And he was.  That was enough to be going on with.

 

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Comments
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 27th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Leat skills.

*dies*

- the Dumbledore portrait's interactions with Harry are spot on, by the way.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks.

I must admit that that one was simply irresistible.
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: August 28th, 2006 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes and no,’ said Draco, judiciously. ‘In their private lives, they’re appalling Wets, muesli-eaters, sandal-wearers, LibDems, no doubt. And astonishingly innocent with it, they truly believe that the world is a peaceful place in which evil is sporadic and has root causes that could be addressed and – appeased. Everyone’s good-hearted at bottom, and if only society were a bit better planned, everyone would be decent and kind and we’d live in a sort of Guardian of Eden.’

*Dies laughing*

I bet the Grangers vote Green Party, though. They'd be just the sort to.

Agree with tree_and_leaf about Harry's interactions with Albus's portrait. Just spot on.

MM





sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 28th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Of course, the cover, the legend, that went with it could not be kept from all their Muggle acquaintance. Mrs Granger did her best to face it out, indeed she became lightly passionate in defence of the position. ‘But, darling,’ she explained to one of her friends at a party, ‘it’s precisely the same as NHS dentistry. Just because these unfortunate members of the underclass have taken the Queen’s shilling doesn’t mean they oughtn’t to have dental care. And with those awful Tories, surely, on the way out soon, well, really, it’s quite a respectable means of social service.’ But the Grangers’s friends were not persuaded, and they soon ceased to go to those parties."

So what exactly did the Grangers do? Join the Army Reserves?
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: August 28th, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
More Brigadier! I hope you understand my delight at this ostensible cross-over. :-)

More muesli-munching Grangers; I like the plight of the Muggle parents to get some air-time, I think that's an under-rated area ripe for fic, and brought Justin to mind; though I know his dad's retired Army, what does Justin do by way of employment in your universe? Or have you mentioned this at all?

High-maintenance Draco - an afternoon spent carving ice out of a freezer was enlivened somewhat by contemplating Harry and Draco shagging on Lucius's GoF film fur robes.
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