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Draco Malfoy and the dawn chorus. Part 1. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Draco Malfoy and the dawn chorus. Part 1.

Our own dear The Mole’s Mother has been feeling a trifle seedy, off-colour (Americans, that does not mean what you think it to mean).  This is for her.

Draco Malfoy and the dawn chorus


Draco Malfoy and the dawn chorus


GMW Wemyss


It was a ridiculous time to be abroad and awake.  Bloody Potter.  Bloody pre-dawn hours when sensible people – a category that clearly excluded Potter – were peaceably asleep in their beds, sated, twined ’round their lovers, even if one’s lover were that daft, bloody, heroic, speccy git of a Potter.


Draco huffed – quietly: no point in annoying that daft, bloody, heroic, speccy git of a Potter, who was ludicrously excited about sitting in a wood in the dark and dank and damp, all for a job lot of thrice-blasted birds – and cast several charms to keep himself dry and warm and impervious to Wild Nature, red in tooth and claw: also quietly.  (There was after all no point in annoying that daft, bloody, heroic, speccy git of a Potter.)  He had already been sternly warned not to whinge.


They’d been there a good – or not so good – half hour already, sitting on the common ground in a common wood like common hedge-wizards, and for what?  To hear ruddy birds who hadn’t the bird-brains to have a nice lie-in?  Simply ridiculous, really.


The daft, bloody, heroic, speccy git had been planning this for months, and nothing that he, Draco, as the sensible person in the ménage, had said, had changed his lover’s mind.  To the contrary.  The lovable idiot had – of course – taken it is a challenge.  In which he had been encouraged – encouraged, mind you – by Nev, by Hagrid, and by those three underhanded women who, in a previous incarnation, had no doubt tricked Macbeth into fatal courses: Aunt Molly, Draco’s mum, and that slyest of them all, tricksy, cunning Aunt Andy.  Oh, Draco, dear, it will do you a world of good, to know the natural order better; and, Darling, really, don’t be so appallingly urban – and suburban; and, fatally, Really, nephew, if you will play at being a country gentleman, you must try to acquire some knowledge of the countryside, let alone of the gentleman’s traditional accomplishments.  Or d’you wish to turn out like your ghastly parvenu father, damn it all?  Aunt Dromedary, especially, possessed the Black art of striking for the heart.


‘The traditional accomplishments of a country gentleman’: balls, all of it.  ‘Not seeing the wood for the trees’?  Hmph.  As far as Draco could see, the only utility to all this tangled, grimy rubbish of ‘the natural order’ was as furnishing potions ingredients.  ‘There’s Southernweed, the which is boy’s-love called, and apt for love of lads in summer hay; And weasel’s-snout on margins of old fields, corn-marigold’s snap-dragonet allied….’


They’d been there a good – or not so good – three-quarters of an hour already, sitting on the common ground in a common wood like common hedge-wizards, and for what?  To loll about like badgers (bloody Hufflepuffs.  Now he came to think of it, hadn’t sodding Finch-Fletchley also encouraged this madness?) so as to be abroad before the birds, and away from human noise and light and blundering about?  It hadn’t done a blind bit of good, had it: not when they’d just Apparated to the area, started to cross a lane, and been buffeted into an uncommonly prickly and unyielding hedgerow by the wash of a speeding van at that ungodly hour.


‘Who the devil was that?’  Draco was always exceptionally waspish when frightened.


‘Oh, really, Draco, surely you recognise the Baker’s Daughter.’


‘In a white van.  How apropos.  What in buggery is she doing, rocketing along like that in the small hours?  We might have been killed!  Killed, by that Rabelaisian, Rubenesque Wife of Bath!  Is she returning from some nocturnal rutting?  The woman’s the poster child for Swindon Syndrome as is, how many children now and no husband in sight?  Racing about at all hours with no regard for the public –’


And Harry, the bastard, had simply laughed at him, and all but patted him on the head as one does with a small child.  ‘It’s a good thing you’re especially cute when you’re being offensive, love.  As you’d know if you paid any attention at all to things at the mill, bakers keep rather early hours.  How else d’you think they’ve fresh bread waiting on you when you stroll idly in?’


Potter always had played dirty.  And it wasn’t as if he’d not paid attention to the operations of their mill at Twatford Mulliner: the Tabard Mills mark of wholemeal flour was bringing in a lovely amount of dosh, and that was something he quite appreciated and kept a careful eye on.


And now some damned bird was banging on about something.  Perhaps they could go home in the next five minutes or so?  How long could this silly ‘dawn chorus’ thingamabob last?



‘The Woosell cocke, so blacke of hew, With Orenge-tawny bill’; the merle, the mimic, the soft flute-throated singer of resignation.


The fact of the matter, Draco reflected, was, Harry had learnt a good deal from the War, from his Auror service and its rigorous training, from having had a celebrated wife, and from having been a husband and father; he had perhaps learnt rather more from having taken on and immersing himself in the headship of the Potter and Black lines, and managing that surprising and unexpected patrimony.  He had by no means bought into the old traditions of Wizard-dom indiscriminately – Hermione for one wouldn’t have worn that for a moment – but he had taken the best of it and made it wholly his, and had, so doing, reformed a world. 


If there was one thing the insinuating little bugger had learnt well, it was to spend months in surreptitiously contriving an effect, only to throw it at the feet of those whom he loved with a carefully unstudied magnificence in the best tradition of Haroun al-Rashid: all the subtlety that the Sorting Hat had seen in him when it offered him a place in Slytherin House, he now used to surprise and delight his children, his broader family, and his lover.


Draco, for his part, as Scorpius as much as Harry could well attest, delighted in extravagance, both given and received; yet he had never, with all his gifts of mimicry, quite attained to the fine, careless rapture of which Harry was so eminently capable.


It was a fact to which he was increasingly resigned.


Tawny owl

The sudden death on silent wings, pillar of monogamy and defender of the home and fief, the omen, bird of night, that cries the virgin’s lost maidenhead; Blodeuwedd.


It was typical of Potter to offer things so generously.  Draco suspected, uneasily, that this was because Potter had had so little, with those atrocious Muggles: when he had come into his own, his first thought had been, and yet was, to give it away to those who had loved him when he’d had nothing to offer them save himself. 


All that love in one tiny, neglected, fate-battered child: of course it had cascaded like waters from a bursting dam when the dam had finally burst.  The man could even yet remain in mourning for a post-owl (and why not, thought Draco, guiltily: Hedwig had been Harry’s only friend for far too long).  No wonder that the daft bugger had fought so fiercely for his own, and loved as fiercely those for whom he’d fought, and been so fiercely devoted a husband as he remained a father: even in the face of silent, swooping disaster, and of treachery.


And no wonder that the mad bugger had worked so long to contrive today’s effect, finding, not at Payn Malford, hard by the manor – which the country folk yet called ‘Pagan Malford’ – nor at Christian Malford, nor yet in the Suttons, not at Sutton Malvey nor at Sutton Littlecombe, within the manorial embrace of Littlecompte House, but, rather, here and now, the perfect wood.  The part-coppiced remnant of a royal forest, with old assarts overgrown, grown to envelope an abandoned orchard and the nearby crabs, and within range of field and garden amidst ancient hedgerows long undisturbed, preserved as if by magic: the wood of all woods in the district that best might hold the fullest chorus, birds of woodland and of garden alike.  Typical, really.



The cuckolder, the bird of divination, the herald and annunciator of the Springtide, the bringer-in of ‘lawful spring in England’.


The vernal time of sex and of romance, the sensual days and nights when Springtide turned to summer on the land: one needn’t ask the cuckoo in order to foresee such things.  It was an odd family they had created, that circumstances had created for them; what with Scorpius and Albus Severus, Draco found himself, nowadays, effectively both step-father and father-in-law to Harry’s middle son.  Harry had loved his Ginny with a passion outlasting death.  It was a thing remarkable and rare, that Harry should have had love enough to love Draco, after.  Uneasily, Draco wondered if he had ever loved Asteria so well.  There were moments – and perhaps, oddly, it was at moments such as this, when Harry, openhandedly magnificent, threw treasures in his lap – when Draco wondered if he weren’t somehow betraying Asteria, and Ginny, and the children, and even his own character, a cuckoo in the nest.


The chronographic call of the divining bird startled some small animal in the undergrowth, in the tangle of orchid and agrimony, the blackthorn or the Guelder-rose, the traveller’s joy or the wayfarer’s-tree.  An urchin, perhaps, ‘all grumblous-like’, the hedgepig; or a mole.


He recalled that first magical week in France with Harry, a honeymoon time, at the old farmhouse bed and breakfast kept by an Englishwitch who’d married some Frog Wizard: a green and pleasant place, soothed by birdsong, amongst which the enervating call of the far-travelled cuckoo, come to usher in the days of spring.  The cuckoo’s music, the harpsichord music of Jean-Louis Daquin and of Bernardo Pasquini. 


Their hostess’s family name before her marriage had been Molesworth, and she’d managed to wed her Frenchman of the name of ‘Taupin’; naturally, the folk ’round those parts had given her the bye-name of ‘Mere Taupe’, ‘Mother Mole’, though she, soignée and cool, had been as far from resembling that animal as anyone could well be. 


He’d been his usual snarky self at first, as ever when he was uncertain or insecure, muttering about how the French would serve up dead hedgehogs from the verge of the road if only they could hide the fact in cream-sauce; he’d been still worse, to the outer limits of rudeness, to find that the farmstead B&B that had earned a name for haute-cuisine, was a vegetarian establishment.  ‘No wonder the woman was forced to leave England!  Soya-curd bangers?  Nut cutlets?  Harry, we’ll starve here!’


He should have done better to ask the cuckoo to divine the future.  By the end of their stay – a stay, bien sur, that had quite explicitly not involved being out of bed and abroad in a dark wood before dawn, or, indeed, being out of bed very much at all – he had eaten his words and a good deal of nosh beside.  Had it not been for Harry’s demanding physicality, in bed and out of it, he quite likely had gained a good stone in weight.



The flying toad, the lich fowl, the dorhawk, the puckeridge, the phantom of the coppiced woods with the call of the spinning jenny: the ghost in the machine.


The darkness was less thick now, less palpable – for it had been a darkness all but physical to the touch.  The part-coppicing of the wood made it a place for nightjars, and the mechanical churr of that uncanny and ominous-seeming bird of dark legend, reptilian, the corpse-fowl, the fabled thief of goat’s-milk, sounded in the cold pre-dawn.  


Harry had chosen, Draco admitted, a remarkable wood for this silly enterprise.  The hornbeam and the ancient apple of a lost orchard, now mingling with the crabs of the wood, were suitable woods for the mill, for spur wheel’s cogs and shaftings, and the nightjar’s whirring call was like the grinding corn-mill’s music in parvo.  Yet the wood was a wood of wand-woods as well, in tree and under-storey alike: rowan, sovereign against witch-malice, hazel and holly, yew, elm, oak, beech, and alder, willow and hawthorn; and amidst these, elder as well, the source of the Wand of Destiny.  All woods, their haunting nightjars taught from coppice and bough, were haunted woods, and all light that fell upon the wood was holy.


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