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A quick snippet. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
A quick snippet.

‘Lovely,’ said Harry.  ‘Bear, martens, otters, weasels, fox, wolves – Christ, dormice, if you could wake ’em – but, we simply couldn’t have had this to hand in summer, could we?  Oh, no, we had to hold this in sodding winter.  “Springtide” be damned, this is a bloody Arctic wilderness.  There’s not a bloody adder in miles with whom I can exchange intel, damn it all.  Oh, no, we must hold the Cup here for political reasons, the jobsworths all said, and we mustn’t hold it in summer because of the Muggles, the security wallahs said, we can charm the area, they said –’

‘Act Two, Scene Three,’ drawled Draco.  ‘Enter our hero, stage right, whinging….’

‘Oh, get knotted, you berk.’

‘Love, you really do not do well abroad, do you?  Best keep you in home paddocks, I think.’

‘Anyone,’ said Remus, placidly, ‘who believes that travel broadens the mind, has never heard a British family discuss their last hols on the Continent.  Harry, my lad, I will say that you are being a trifle Dursely-ish about this, mind.’

‘Ouch,’ said Ron, as Harry looked at Remus in horror.  ‘Point to the surrogate godfather.’


‘Of course the pitch is named for Nikola Tesla.  He’s the best-known Wizard to emerge from … well, it wasn’t what the Muggles called Croatia, then, it was Austria-Hungary: you’ve heard the story of the Habsburg Wizard who asked a Muggle about the mobs in the street, and was told it was for the Austria-Hungary footer match?  He nodded, and asked, “Ah.  Who are we playing?” –’

‘Remus,’ said Harry, warningly.

‘All right, all right, the point is, Tesla was and is the local Wizarding hero hereabouts, Serb though he was, and despite the, ah, other problem….’

‘“Other problem”?  Given the ethnic love-fest that the Balkans have ever been, what could be more damning than being a Serb in Wizarding Croat country?’

Draco smirked.  ‘Well, until Remus, he was rather regarded as the only fastidious and genteel werewolf in history, you know.’

‘That explains a good deal, actually,’ said Hermione, looking thoughtful as she recalled precisely how odd a cove the great Tesla had been.


‘Really,’ said Narcissa, in tones quite as cold as the cutting wind without, ‘I do quite understand Harry’s frustration.  We – or, rather, you – are engaged in serious work, attempting to prevent contemplated murders, avenge those already effected, and avert a new war and the possible ascendancy of yet another Dark Moron, all against the backdrop of a Constitutional crisis at home.  It’s no wonder that Harry finds himself short of temper: after all, it must be tiresome indeed to be required to save the world every quarter day.  Harry, dear, perhaps you had best leave this to others?’

Harry bridled, and just managed not to glare outright at his mother-in-law.  ‘Thank you, Mother Malfoy, but I believe I am quite competent to carry on, and perhaps one of the five or so of us best qualified to do.  If you will excuse me, there are some owls I must send.’  And he stalked out, very much on his mettle.

Narcissa and Draco exchanged smirks.  ‘You see, darling, that husband of yours is quite manageable.’

‘I know that, Mummy.  It works every time.’

Tonks snorted and started to speak; her mother beat her to it.  ‘He doesn’t want managing, Cissy, and you ought the both of you to realise that.  He wants action.  Harry never complains about what the Litany calls “battle, murder, and sudden death”, it’s the minor annoyances that goad him.’

Tonks grinned.  ‘He’d rather be Crucio-ed by a new Tom Riddle than deal with nettles, that one.’

‘Andy, really.’  Narcissa was coolly amused.  ‘I should have thought by now that Tinker had caused you to reflect, and dealing with Lupin had informed my niece, that men always want managing.  For their own good, of course.’

‘Of course,’ said Hermione, equally dryly. 

‘Oi,’ said Ron, protesting.

‘Shush, dear.’

Ron shushed.

Draco and his mother once again smirked upon each other: only to jump guiltily when Harry’s disembodied voice, tart but not unamused, sounded.  ‘Aunt Andy, it’s not the “battle, murder, and sudden death” I’m currently nettled by, it’s the “sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion” that annoys me.  And I’m torn between amusement and annoyance at realising how poor some people’s tradecraft has waxed.  Listening charms, Extendable Ears, Invisibility Cloaks … may I suggest some rather more constant vigilance?’

‘Berk,’ said Draco, over Harry’s distant laughter.

‘Don’t whinge, love,’ said Harry, as smugly as ever any Malfoy or Black had managed.

After two successive references to the Litany, there was really only one thing Remus could say.  ‘Good Lord, deliver us.’

This time, when Ron began sniggering, Hermione did not manage to shush him.


During the years of Harry’s childhood exile amongst the Muggles, his Babylonian captivity in the Dursley house, the disembodied Tom Riddle had hidden amidst the forests of the River Valbonë vale, in deepest Albania: the most savage and backward place he could well find, a haunt of vipers and vampires, of wolf and werewolf, hag and hex, where old Illyrian pagan notions held out in the mountain redoubts, the Church was persecuted where it yet existed in Hoxha’s despotism, and the few Muslims – who largely populated rather the south and centre of the country than its north-eastern fastnesses of blood feud and sorcery, and preferred towns to wilderness – were in the main Bektashi panentheists, and practitioners of a correspondingly heterodox magic. 

The area was secure in Voldemort’s day: all Albania was hermetically sealed at the paranoid orders of Enver Hoxha, to whom power was all.  To this day, the area remains largely off-limits to Muggles and Wizards alike.  It was not to be thought of that, even yet, Albania should host the Cup.  But the Balkan Wizarding League were nonetheless eager to mend fences with the West, and cleanse themselves of their associations with even the exiled and discorporated Voldemort; and so, to Ron’s horror and vocal outrage, and over his protests both as Minister for Magical Games and Sports and – more importantly – as Chief Editor of Wizden’s, the Cup had been moved forward to accommodate the political considerations of better ties with the Balkan statelets.

Not even Ron had felt any pleasure of vindication when it had all gone so terribly wrong, and Uganda coach Giles Whitsun had been murdered amidst accusations of poison and Goblin sedition.


‘I still say,’ said Harry, ‘that if we were forced to hold the Cup final at a place known for tamed werewolves, Gubbio’d’ve been the better choice.’

Remus smiled.  ‘No one in this lot would make a very good fist of being a Franciscan, you realise.’


‘Ah,’ said the Fat Friar, with a vinous chuckle.  ‘Honorary Hufflepuffs, all.  Yes, yes, even you, Mr Malfoy: you’ve all of you shown superlative loyalty to the school and to Wizard-dom.  And, insofar as you are all of you in some way or another of Godric’s own descent, I salute you as kinsmen, as well.’

‘K- kinsmen?’

‘Indeed.  A Hufflepuff I may be, but one of my grandmothers was a minor connexion of my lord the earl, Hugh Bigod, earl of Norfolk, but the other was kin to Godric.  Come, come, did you think it was by chance that the cycle route through Bungay and its adjacent parishes on the Waveney was called the “Godric Way”?  Although I suppose the old place is better remembered nowadays for the Grim that terrified the village in, when was it, 1577 or so?  Yes, yes, I think that was the year –’

‘So you are Friar Bungay,’ said Hermione, with some awe.

‘The dear Mother of God preserve us, child, has that been lost in the years or thought a secret?  Dear, dear, this will never do.   Your brother in Christ, Thomas, known in the world as Thomas of Bungay, of the Order of Friars Minor, at your service.’

Harry let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding.  ‘Did you, truly, work with Roger Bacon, then, sir?’

‘Indeed I did, young brother – and I implore you, no “sir”, if you would.  I am but a mendicant friar, one of Our Lord’s troubadours, and no knight or great man nor even a priest to be so graced with the honorific.  Yes, of course I had the honour of working in natural philosophy with Brother Roger: oh, that was an exciting time, when the ferment of thought worked in the vat of the Church, and gave us the new wine of learning.  And Brother Roger – why, the man was as full of wit and subtle learning as any Dominican.’

‘Well.  Er.  Brother Thomas.  A certain manuscript has come into my hands, through the Blacks, and through their Welsh branch, a manuscript that is said to have belonged to Dr Dee.  There are those who say it was written by Roger Bacon – that is, Brother Roger.  I.  Could you … would you … may I have your opinion?’

‘Of course you may, dear boy, in all charity.  Oh, my.  Yes.  Yes, indeed.  I understand there is a copy loose in the Muggle world as well….  Named for the chap who acquired it and presented it to some Muggle place in the New World, I believe – what was his name, again?  He married the daughter of the Arithmancer, George Boole … dear me … you, my boy, ought to know that – she was far more a radical, red revolutionist than your cousin ever was, but they knew one another –’

‘My cousin?’

‘Hmm?  Oh, yes, yes, Beatrice – not Beatrix, the bunny animagus, or perhaps I ought say, “animaga”, although Wizarding Latin is a sore trial to anyone who cares for the beauties of the Classical tongue – Beatrice Potter, from the Squib branch that settled in Gloucestershire, the MP’s daughter who turned down Joe Chamberlain and married Sidney Webb instead.  Never would allow people to call her Lady Passfield, oddly enough, though of course she was, after poor Ramsay gave Sidney a peerage.  At any rate, she was a Fabian rather than an outright Marxist, was Beatrice, but she certainly knew – yes, of course, that’s it, Ethel, Ethel Boole, and the Polish chap she married was Wilf Voynich.  Of course he was.  Nice chap, full of ideals but no sense of how to effect ’em: well, there, there, young men will be headstrong, although I can’t imagine that expelling him from Durmstrang and snapping his wand was at all the right course to take….  How he acquired a copy of Brother Roger’s work in the Muggle world I’ve no idea, but – I’m sorry, what was your question again?’

‘I think you’ve answered it,’ said Harry, rather faintly.  ‘This truly is Roger Bacon’s manuscript that no one has ever deciphered – I mean, the Muggles haven’t?’

‘Sure-ly, as we said in Suffolk when I was a stripling.  And of course the Muggles will never be able to read it, nor will most Wizards.  But you can do, can you not?’

‘Harry?  Harry, you never said that you –’

‘I wasn’t certain that I really was, Hermione.’

‘How can –’

‘Potter, are you telling us that this is written in –’

‘Wait, wait,’ said Remus, who had also realised what Draco had tumbled to.  ‘Roger Bacon – a Light Wizard and an RC religious – was a Parselmouth?’

‘Naturally,’ said the Fat Friar, beaming.  ‘Harry’s not the first Light Wizard to be one.’

‘But – a monastic who spoke with snakes?’

‘My dear Draco!  We’re not Carthusians – or Austin friars.  Brother Francis, as our exemplar, spoke with all creatures, wolves, birds, asps, basilisks, werewolves … well, you take the point.  Can you imagine Brother Francis or any who follow his Rule being too proud to speak with Brother Serpent simply because a snake is less popular with the natural man than is Sister Dove?’


‘The Potter lot, I gather?  Welcome to Cowbridge.’  The elderly gentleman in the town clerk’s offices was brisk but kindly.  ‘A little genealogical tourism, I take it?  No, no, I’m not clairvoyant, I’d a minute from our MP and our AM both.  Mr Potter?  Ah, that would be you, then.  Yes.  You’re rather well-connected, my good young sir.  What brings you to Y Bont-Faen?’

‘My mother’s family.  I was orphaned at an early age, and my grandparents had predeceased my mother.  Their surname was Evans.’

‘And half Wales might say the same, aye.  Now, which Evans would that have been then?  Evans the chemist, Evans the schoolmaster, Evans the farmer?  Evans the collier, Evans the pilot, Evans the butcher, Evans the –’

‘I’m sorry, I don’t know, actually.  He’d have been the Evans who had two daughters, Petunia and Lily, if that helps.’

‘All right!  That it does, young Mr Potter, that it does.’  The old man was suddenly animated, and disposed to be garrulous with it.

‘It’s Harry.  If you would, just call me Harry.’

‘Well, then, Harry-o, I’m glad to be telling you I knew your grandfather well, he chewed bread for our ducks, as they say, very close he and my da were.  And it’s to Llanblethian you’ll be wanting to go before anywhere.  I’ll take you alongside myself.  Ah, yes, I mind your grandfather well, and your – it was Lily that I heard was killed, that was your mam, was it not?  Aye, a black shame that was.  I knew her well, I was just about between the ages of your grand-da and Pet, and, well, takes all sorts, but I never was much for your aunt Pet.’

‘And half Wales might say the same.’

‘Aye?  Dear, dear, and I’ll wager she married that Dursley.  Bigger liar’n Tom Pepper, I was always thinking: oh but he was chronic.  But Lily bach, oh she was a dear one, and your grandparents, well.  Into the runabout with all of ye and against we reach Llanblethian, I’ll tell ye all the clonc I recall of them.  In you go, now.  Ah, that’s got her started, comes up a treat with a bit careful handling, all these council vehicles want a light touch.  Now for Llanblethian, then, it’s a lovely place, and as for what it was in your grandfather’s time, well!  That was before all this build-up, aye, and your grand-da was a big man here.  Eyes like the lower half of the Dragon Flag, I ought to’ve known when you asked me that you were his grandson, aye indeed.  And a smile for all, and cwchyn – that’s ginger-headed – as your long friend there.  They were crachach, your grandparents, I mean in the old sense of the local gentry, the true great and good – bloody sheep in the road, motoring hereabouts is a terror, I tell ye – the best of us.  Evans the Vet, your grandfather was, and all he ever cared to be, being the third son, but oh the people hereabouts loved him.  Now, his elderest brother got the lands and the middle-un had the church, and don’t you be thinking they weren’t good men, they were, your great-uncle was a warm man but a good landlord and even the RCs and all us Chapel admired Old Vicar, kindest man you could imagine but your grand-da, still, anyhow, it was your grand-da was best loved.  Mind the road surface here, there’s a bit roughness – oh, dear, did you hit your head then?  Anyhow, loved animals, did your grandfather, horses most of all but sheep and all sorts as well, and once he was set on being the vet’n’r’y, there was no holding him.  Mind, his mother was a Kemeys, and there was a gentry family who’d no care for anything anyone thought but themselves, and if they wanted a thing, why, they had it, and did it, and not a fig for what anyone thought, and your grandmother was a Jenkins, her da was a don at Jesus, away at Oxford, and he worked with your grand-da on animal biology – quite the scholar was your grandfather, aye, and published amongside the learned men all.  After the Hitler War – hold on, I’ll get that gate – oh, thank you.  Mind you close it proper.  All in?  On we go then.  After the Hitler War, Major Evans – that was your grand-da’s da – came back – he’d been in India for the War, and seen the Vet Corps vetting the cavalry and all, and pack mules I don’t doubt, and all in the Burma jungle – well, back he came from away, and I tell you, the tales he told your grand-da and your great-uncles, why, whichever of ’em had been the third son’d’ve been fired with determination to be a vet’n’r’y.  Your great-grandfather told the tale many a time of how they’d ha’ been doomed altogether in the jungle without animal transport, where tanks and the like couldn’t go and supply lorries and air-drops were right out, and it’s no wonder at all that your grand-da became a vet.

‘Ah.  Here we are then, aye.  We’ll stop at the church and you can see where your great-uncle had his living.  And your grandparents are buried in the churchyard.  If he’d not been so set on staying a vet, your grand-da’s be buried in a great tomb and have a statue in the market square in Cowbridge, I can tell ye: Dame Dorothy nor Sir Raymond’ve had had a look in if he’d stood for Parliament as we all begged him time and again to do.  There’s them that say the Liberal Party would have survived if he had done, and he’d’ve been its leader, but he was always saying that Wales nor the country needed him to physic ’em, and he could do more good in his station, dosing bulls and helping with the lambing.  Aye: that’s where they rest, young Harry.  I’ll be waiting in the church porch against you come back.’


The ancient Southwolds market town of Dursley, in the valley of the Gloucestershire Cam, was a wool town in its day, and a centre of woollen and textile manufacture.  It is probable that it was the industrial infrastructure of this otherwise sleepy town that brought to it the bicycle manufacturer, Pedersen, and the Listers who would create the stationary engines company that would later merge with Petters.  It was the charm of the place, unmarred by industry, that drew to it a youngish and already sybaritic don on a walking tour, in the summer before the Kaiser’s War.

The youthful scholar, already running a bit to stoutness, departed Dursley with rather more precipitation than had marked his ponderous arrival, and the reason for his funk and flit was soon known from Stroud to Stinchcombe.  Given his sedentary habit, both the cause of his hurried departure – not to say, levanting – and the turn of speed he displayed in vanishing so swiftly and unnoticeably, were remarked upon.  There were those who maintained that the sleek, well-fed don, with his sleeked-down straw-coloured hair, ginger-blond walrus moustaches, and gooseberry eyes, had seduced the daughter of the landlord of the Lamb and Flag; others, who had perhaps better taken the measure of the pompous but curiously innocent traveller, and who unquestionably knew the publican’s daughter better, had little doubt that the daughter had done the seducing.  Be that as it might, the man was vanished overnight, with none quite able to remember his name, college, or University, somehow, and there was a baby on the way to be provided for.  The Lamb and Flag was a free house, but its landlord was a tenant both for his pub and for his cottage of the Estcourts, the long-time lords of the manor.  When the lad was born, he was given the Christian name Horatio, for his father, whose surname was lost, and the surname, simply, of ‘Dursley’, and the Estcourts assisted the lad’s grandfather in his upbringing.

Horatio Dursley grew to man’s estate in his eponymous village, being schooled at the local grammar and playing a vicious form of Rugby for the town.  Thereafter, he was taken on by the RA Lister Company, and rose swiftly through its ranks, being regarded as the model of narrow commercial probity.

But a merely commercial rectitude in Horatio Dursley was proof only against overt dishonesty; he was very much capable of unslaked ambition and the meanest actions consonant with technical legality.  There were therefore those who were not at all surprised when, in 1935, Horatio Dursley removed himself – and, it was suggested, although it could never be proven, a few valuable trade secrets – from Lister’s employ, and departed the town of his birth (and which knew and let him know that it knew the scandal of his birth) for a position with the machine-tools-and-drill manufacturers, Grunnings Ltd.  The apparent price of his disloyalty was a very remunerative marriage to the chairman’s ill-favoured and sour daughter – but his sole heiress – and a move to distant Surrey, to take charge of the new works in Staines.  It was typical of his luck that Petters Ltd should move to Staines after the Hitler War, and then merge with RA Lister: it was as if all his sins were being visited upon him at once.

But that was in the future.  In 1935, a time in which having any work at all was a boon, Horatio Dursley and his new wife, the former Marjorie Grunnings, were clearly on the rise.  Perhaps that was enough to explain his departure from the town of his birth, for all that his daughter, named for her mother, would return to Gloucestershire (although not to Dursley, but, rather, to Fairford), feeling its pull, to spend her days in a haze of alk, domineering, unearned increment, and the Fancy.  Yet there were those in Dursley town who wondered if Horatio’s Flit, so like his father’s before him, might not be related to a very peculiar incident that befell late in 1934, when a very peculiar woman, queerly dressed, with straw-coloured hair and gooseberry eyes, had arrived in the town, enquiring, she said, after a lost nephew.  No one knew what had passed between Horatio and the strange woman, although that nescience did not prevent the spreading of many a tale, but it was certain that it was not many months after the appearance of the disconcerting Mrs Lovegood that Horatio double-crossed RA Lister & Sons and shook the dust of Dursley town from his feet, vanishing into the Staines suburbs with his new and markedly unpleasant wife.

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