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Harry Potter and the Demon Bowler, Part Two (C) (conclusion) - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Harry Potter and the Demon Bowler, Part Two (C) (conclusion)

The Minister for Magic was reading a series of reports from a team in the field.  He was prepared to be entertained.  Particularly when preliminary or field reports were made using Auror-grade dictation-quills (one of Porpentine Frett’s cleverer inventions, really), the personalities of the writers came through quite strongly, and made for much better reading than the usual ministry bumf. 


Hermione, naturally, was in a ferment of intellectual excitement at their having discovered a new species of Dark creature akin to Dementors, perhaps (she speculated, at length, with footnotes) the creatures from which Dementors had initially evolved or been bred.


Ron’s report was, with Nev’s, the best and most straightforward of the lot: factual, wryly humorous, slightly skewed in favour of Harry’s accomplishments – Ron had long since matured past any need for approbation and any urge to boastfulness – and wholly devoid of any sense of the psychological interactions.  ‘Agent Teaspoon’, indeed.


Luna, naturally, had written a wholly eccentric report, illustrated with sketches of the creatures and fleshed out, if that were the correct phrase, which it clearly wasn’t, with the most outré speculation on their links with other officially-mythological beasts and beings.  There was, actually, a useful kernel of magizoology buried in the prose, but, of course, no one reading the report would ever realise that the incident had been a dangerous occurrence in an Auroral investigation, rather than a patent Lovegood safari after what Hagrid would doubtless call ‘interestin’ creatures’: Luna did not so much as acknowledge that the team had been on anything more than a nature-walk.


Ginny’s report, in turn, read like a template for after-action reports, and was especially useful as such, against which the other reports could be measured.  Its primary failing was its putting equal emphasis upon minor incident and major fact: it was a schools answer, and Moody, God rest him, would have trotted out the old line about Auror college and Staff College answers, as being complete, correct, belated, and ‘utterly feckin’ useless’ with it.


Neville’s was a sound report: cool, complete, academic – well, the man was a professor – and a précis of a prolegomena of an abstract of an introduction to a preliminary essay upon the influence of local environment and ecology upon newly-discovered Dark creatures, with cross-references to the Corpus of herbological studies. 


Naturally, young Malfoy’s report made for the best reading.  Sly, amusing, witty, caustic, sarcastic, it needled everyone present, Malfoy included, painted each incident in a light either dramatic, humorous, or both, and, with every sly backhander directed at Harry, was wholly revelatory of Draco’s ill-concealed worship of Potter.


And then there was Potter’s report.  Reliable, brief, competent, factually complete, even insightful in places, but utterly ruined by his persistent refusal to record anything that was to his own credit and his staunch resistance to set down anything that showed him, rather than the rest of the team, in any light that his numerous devotees could possibly construe as having been heroic.


Kingsley sighed.  It had been brilliantly handled, that much was obvious, and once Harry and his side had gone on, as they were sure to do on the morrow, to knock the demon bowler quite literally for six, the case would ostensibly be closed: but there would be no closing of the case until the paperwork was done, and redone, with proper reports this time, or, by Merlin, he’d know the reason why. 


Bumf it may have been, and tedious with it, but no one, not even Potter HJ, got by with blagging the paperwork in a Shacklebolt ministry.


With the coming of Hagrid, the King of the Wood, Autumntide was fully upon the land.


Already, it had been adumbrated, in the scent of the woods’s duff, in the spice of the air: imminent, oncoming, desired: the time when at last, in accordance with the eternal round, the oil paints of Summertide would give way to the stained glass, the bold metals and gilt, of the harvest time, to be followed in turn by the charcoal, pen, and ink-wash of the Wintertide before the pastels of Springtime once more coloured the land.  They had ploughed the fields and scattered; soon, they would raise the song of harvest home, and all be safely gathered in.


The Wednesday had dawned crisp and bright, the skies a deeper blue than those of high summer, and the afternoon was tart as cider, and as crisp, excitement in its every air.  All could feel that the flowers of the Springtide and the Summertide’s long growing were crowned now with fruited completion, and the days stretched before them as ripe as Bramleys or Worcester Pearmains, as taut and swollen with juicy possibility.


HRH was in fine fettle, moving easily amongst the players of both sides, and giving particular credit to Mr Ayliffe and to Mr Goodfellow along with the Zeals WI (providers of the cream tea, all proceeds to Headway Dorset, Reg. Charity Number 1027594; Patrons, HRH The Earl of Wessex and the Baroness Maddock) for the bang-up catering.  The mood of the crowd was jovial in the extreme, and no one had been at the scrumpy yet.


Harry was in a hilarious mood himself.  With the Wives and Girlfriends – and Boyfriends, as far as that went – along, he had been reduced almost to tears of laughter when Blaise, whose roving eye was matched only by his unshakeable fidelity to Justin, had incautiously asked, ‘Merlin!  Who is the blond muscle-god?’, and had had to have it broken to him, gently, that the bloke in question was Harry’s cousin Dudley, as reshaped by boxing and by Elspeth the Matron.  He had also been unconscionably amused when Dudley, humbly, said, in answer to the query, whether he played cricket at all, ‘I’m hardly Jim Troughton, you know.’


The Wanderers, as might be expected with magic in the mix, had won the toss, and had, as might also have been expected, elected to bat first.  Limited-overs matches being what they are, with a premium on runs (and wickets), this had meant that Jack (the Hon John) Seymour had naturally chosen his demon bowler to open the bowling.  Harry and Draco took their appointed places in their respective creases, and the battle commenced.


With Gul bowling, the pace was demonically fast and furious.  Draco, nurdling in accordance with the agreed strategy, played a largely defensive game, grafting away, although he was aggressive with such opportunities as came to him, and his leg glance to fine leg on a very tricky ball was a superb example of Slytherin subtlety in action.  He blocked, he pulled, he hooked a bouncer that was a thing of beauty, he treated a remarkably cunning inswinging Yorker with lazy contempt, he was vehemently applauded for an upper cut over leg gully, he played a Marillier that brought the crowd to its feet and caused the KSCC wicketkeeper to swear in the most heartfelt manner he had heard in years, and he sledged the bowler with all his old venom (‘You’re not on the Burnley Road now, lad, you’re in civilised parts!  We wear shoes hereabouts!’); but most importantly, he restrained himself from hitting anything that might go for a boundary.  For the Wanderers had spent the night before, under a full and dragon moon, warding and charming the boundary, and it was the Elder Wand that was destined to hit the dark-enchanted ball for six.


And that time was now upon them.  The KSCC wicketkeeper, Mr Cyril Pinnell, had been so demoralised by Draco’s Marillier as to have allowed an easy bye on a nasty leg cutter that Draco had wisely left strictly alone.  Now Harry was the striker, and Gul bent his glare upon him.  The demon bowler’s eyes, as black as ever Snape’s had been, were shark-like, inhuman, and glittering with an inhuman intelligence and malice.  Once more, Gul steamed in, rashly, and delivered a Yorker, but not a sandshoe crusher like the inswinger he’d bowled to Draco.  This was an outswinger, and Harry, his bat an extension of his will, the Elder Wand alive and singing within it, drove his shoulder down and simply slogged it towards cow corner.  It carried, and carried, borne aloft by an older magic than itself, and went for six, and as it broke the wards upon the boundary, the very sunlight seemed for a moment to flicker.  This was forgotten even as it occurred, as Nazim Gul the demon bowler promptly sat down, hard, upon the wicket, his legs giving out under him. 


Harry hastened to him, bat still in hand as if forgotten, and Gul looked up at him, his eyes brown, limpid, human, and clear, and whispered, ‘Thank you.’


He was swiftly helped from the pitch, and KSCC’s right arm leg-spin bowler Johnnie Cucknell sent in in his stead, as Elspeth hurried to look him over.  He did not, the crowd observed, seem obviously to limp – the initial assumption had been that It Was Something to Do with His Ankle – and Harry overheard some of them murmuring, ‘Fair mazed, poor lad, I reckon as it’s a touch of the sun’, and, ‘Something he et, it may be – begging your pardon, Mr Goodfellow’, to which Harry had audibly and incautiously said, ‘So long as he’s not eating souls, I don’t much mind’, although, fortunately, Mr Ayliffe of KSSC, overhearing, responded by saying sententiously that one could never trust a fishmonger, any butcher could tell you as much.


The remainder of the match was anti-climactic, although marked by quite workmanlike wicket-keeping by Ron, classical form on Justin’s part, an exhibition of solid Lancashire competence by Nev, and characteristically fearless and aggressive batting by little Dennis Creevey, and admirable bowling from Dean, Lee, and Theo Nott.


As the victorious Wanderers were being carried shoulder-high off the pitch by all their acquaintance, Kingsley motioned Harry over, before HRH could summon him.


‘Well, Harry.  That was well done.  Now.  I’ve just had two reports in, the first of some remarkable medical recoveries the length of the country, coincident with that boundary.  Excellent work.’


‘Thanks, Shack.’


‘The second, however, concerns the odd experience of some Muggle fell-walkers near the Winny Stone in the West Riding this morning.  Seems that the stone, which has never done so before, is rocking a bit, and they swear they heard odd noises.  Is there anything you can tell me that might clarify that?’


‘Well, er, Kingsley, it’s in my report, I mean –’


Harry was saved, for the moment, by the approach of his Hon Captain, HRH the Earl of Wessex.  But as he was gathered up by the royal suite, he could tell, from the cold and fish-like look in Kingsley’s eye, that there would be paperwork awaiting him in the morning, before the episode of the Demon Bowler could be called resolved.


Harry sighed.  He knew Kingsley’s paperwork requirements of old.




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6 comments or Leave a comment
From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 1st, 2007 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, absolutely splendid. Potter and cricket in combination is bound to be a winner, particularly in such safe hands, and a good happy ending to boot. A treat.

The remainder of the match was anti-climactic, although marked by quite competent wicket-keeping by Ron, classical form on Justin’s part, an exhibition of solid Lancashire competence by Nev, and characteristically fearless and aggressive batting by little Dennis Creevey, and admirable bowling from Dean, Lee, and Theo Nott.

I'm not sure about the 'competent' followed by the 'competence' , but that's a most minor point.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 1st, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quite right. I shall correct that forthwith.

And thank you so very much for all your kind words.
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: November 1st, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
A lovely treat for the end of a long weary day.

Particularly enjoyed the what Dudley did next bits. Good old Dudders, glad he got away from his appalling parents and made something of himself.

Oh, and the Fifth Doctor crack had me in stitches!

wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 1st, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks, love.

One rather has a sneaking fondness for Dud, post-DH.

And I knew you'd love the Whoref.
leni_jess From: leni_jess Date: November 5th, 2007 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
That is delightful in many ways: a good plot, neatly executed; a pretty convincing rendering of the Potterverse characters as adults; and that somewhat fulsome but loving lyricism for an England that lives now only in the imagination, alas.

I particularly admire that, though accepting the Epilogue in its entirety, you have filled it out realistically (and almost certainly not as JKR would have done it, thank goodness, given the mean trivia and ignorance of serious issues the original encompasses). Nothing, not even the rehabilitation of Dudley (at the hands of a cousin of Millicent's, I love it) contradicts the Epilogue, but, though you have a focus untterly unlike JKRs', it is far more mature.

I've spent the last couple of days chasing up and reading your stories (and some essays, though some of those I've read before). This morning I finished GoIGoH, having done little else but read it over 24 hours or so, screamed, and have now downloaded the four chapters of UaDM. (I hope eventually you plan to return to Dragon Moon to finish it; I see it hasn't been updated for over a year.)

I'm friending you, in order to keep track of your writing (including those enjoyable lists and robust opinions).
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 5th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you very much indeed.

I believe I may print out and frame this comment, both as encouragement on off-colour days and as encouragement to put up more of UaDM, which, yes, will be completed. And thank you also for letting me know that my subtle (subtle as an Erumpent on heat) means of writing around that damned epilogue were noticed, and noticed favourably.

I'm delighted to have you as a friend, and heartily and unfeignedly thankful for your very kind words.
6 comments or Leave a comment