Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile AT: Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn Previous Previous Next Next
Annotated Drink Up Thy Zider Part Eight - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Annotated Drink Up Thy Zider Part Eight


Outwith Aveline House, the rain, in local idiom, ‘had began to slack’. Draco Malfoy, rising from his meditations and turning from the bay window with some decision, was resolute. Whether or not it had ever been possible that he and Potter should have been lovers was of no moment. What mattered was that Scorpius be protected. To that end, all else might be sacrificed, and no recourses were too low or mean to resort to. Draco noted, dispassionately, that once again, the only two influences that proved able to pull him from a funk were a threat to his family and the challenge, the furious desire to prove himself, that Potter always drew from him. So be it. He would watch and wait, use the situation to his advantage, stop on at Aveline House rather than at the cottage, and find a means to effect his own rescue, using Potter if necessary but never allowing Potter to be the one to save him.

And if Potter were forever alienated in the process, that was little enough price to pay for Scorpius’ sake.

It was time to set his plans in motion – even if that did require that he trudge over to sodding Evensong.


Eastwards, under clear skies, Dudley Dursley – nowadays a fit and contented, as well as a humble and decent, man, under Elspeth’s tutelage (she was a born matron, as her Great Ormond Street colleagues would attest) – was happily at home, in their cottage in Elstead:[1] a very different Surrey to that he had known as a child. His work with Headway UK, the brain injury charity – he had seen too much of that in the ring – and Elspeth’s as an administrator for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust had benefited them materially as spiritually. And Dudley had learnt in the hard school of experience that good works are the rent we pay for our tenancy in humanity.

Wherefore it was with profound attention and no less determination that he was listening carefully to what his daughter Harriet had to tell him over tea.


As Harry returned to Evelake, the clouds rolled away. The earth steamed, exhaling. Newly polished, laved and cleansed (purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow),[2] grass and tree, hedge and garden, shone in the sunlight. It was a light peculiar to the Vale of Evelake. The rusty stones and grey, as they were upon Old Dartymoor, the colour of old blood and bone, were here transmuted, and cottage and country house, church and shop front, were in the light that spilled into the valley and submerged it, rubies in silver settings, silver upon the emerald of the sward. The Green was paradisal, the very streets mellowed pewter. Bugloss and fairy flax, scented may-weed and wood sorrel, traveller’s-joy and the pale dog-violet, primrose and Guelder-rose, chicory and Burnet rose and old-man’s beard, oak and elm and apple, sloe and crab, lifted their eyes to the clear, pure sky. Plum and mazzard,[3] apricot and fig, pear and bramble, were made glad thereof.[4]

The Master of the Hallows was returned to Avalon, in the tall shadow of the church of the Holy Grail.


Draco had committed yet another solecism at tea, putting his clotted cream and jam on his scones in the Cornish order of precedence rather than in the Devonian;[5] he had accepted correction coolly, beginning as he meant to go on. Nothing – not even the need to mask his intentions beneath an uncommon meekness – would divert him from the dicey path he must tread: he was the master of his fate, the captain of his –[6]



‘If you are coming to Evensong, leave wool-gathering and go and get ready. And wash: you’ve jam on your face.’

‘Yes, mother.’


The long evenfall of Summer was beginning far to the East, in Troisvierges.


Aveline House

Behind them stood Aveline House, from its rusticated basement to its recessed-panelled brisk chimneys the Platonic archetype to which all the country houses of England dimly aspired. Here had Capability Brown learnt his trade from the Wizard, Lamorak ‘Capacity’ Smith, and here had Humphry Repton come at the end of his life to renew his talents. At Aveline House, Grinling Gibbons – a Squib and a secret werewolf, whose few knowing friends, shielding him, had named him affectionately ‘Grinning Gibbous’ – had been tutored in his craft, and from Aveline House had gone out the learning and art that Jones and Talman and Hawksmoor had disseminated to the Muggles. Like Brympton House at Brympton D’Evercy,[7] which perhaps most nearly attained to an approximation of this aspect of the Aveline ideal, the great house held by the descendants of Godric and of Old Crockern had grown, like the Empire, like its own lore and the many tales told of the house and estate, by slow accretion: from its pre-Saxon beginnings through its Twelfth Century manorial state to its current eminence, adorned by Torrigiano and Shute, Smythson and Thorpe, by Inigo Jones and by that son of Devon, Nick Stone, master of the works for the Palace of Whitehall, by Lyminge and by Webb, by Adam and Wood the Younger and Athenian Stuart.

Before them, beyond the church, were the stuccoed South Hams cottages, and the cob, with their characteristic chimneys characteristically placed, and all the peaceful village bright against the woods and slopes, where the transiting sun showed up the secret memories of strip lynchet and ancient work. Sheep and pigs and cattle and bees, ducks and geese and chickens, moved quietly about their business in orchard and field as the first sweet breath of the dimpsy stole upon the land.

The air rang with birdsong, and the susurration of busy, happy bees; and on it was ever borne the scent of apples transmuted and refined into glory.

Harry was sedately escorting Narcissa church-wards, as Draco came along well behind. Yes, Narcissa thought, how typical of Harry, to wear – and casually to doff – all this his heritage, once stolen from him and now restored, as it were a cloak for rain. He will do well for my son. For she had spoken, gleefully, with Al and Scorpius, earlier, and Draco had not been so wholly unobserved in his discovering them as he had hoped to be.

‘Tell me, Cissy. How long has Draco been enduring a run of bad luck?’

Distinguo, darling boy. Much of what my son should doubtless consider his ill luck, in the past, was rather proof that character is destiny – something Lucius for one never could grasp. And you and he both suffered a stroke of evil fortune, through no fault of yours or his, when you were both – with so many others – made widowers. But you refer, naturally, to his current predicament.’

‘Which is not his fault. In fact, he is only incidentally a target of what’s afoot – as were the clients of his portfolio, of which my holdings and those of the Weasleys are the most numerous, which is interesting in itself. So: how long?’

Narcissa thought for a moment, and when she made answer, she did so circuitously. ‘Do you know, I still mourn my daughter-in-law. Yet if anything good came of her death, it was Draco’s animation, for he was as intent as you upon bringing those horrid terrorists to book, and his decision after to go to the bank. That Ministry position he had drifted into – I know it was meant to show defiance after his acquittal, just after the War, but still – the thing had become a sinecure, he might as well have been on strength at the Centaur Office.

‘His going into banking challenged him, revitalised him: indeed, it was the making of him. Rather like Jamie’s being turned off into a Scots regiment?’

‘Cissy, I exerted no influence whatever –’

‘Of course not, darling boy, but you’d not want to. Your many, many friends exert themselves to anticipate your needs, and you very kindly suffer them to do so, even when they bollocks it utterly.’

Harry grinned. ‘I will confess to some relief, both as a father and as a senior officer, that Jamie is in a mess in which the subalterns are expected to sit quietly, drink sparingly and selectly of their single-malts, and listen with every appearance of enjoyment to pibrochs at five paces, in place of one in which they engage in rags, bear-fights, and indoor cricket played with flaming bog-roll.’[8]

‘I should think so indeed. I can just remember your father and your godfather as one-pippers.’ Narcissa shuddered, dramatically, and Harry actually sniggered. There had been a time when this woman’s daring even to praise James and Sirius had brought him to berserker rage, but that day was long past. ‘Lily was clearly a saint. But you take my meaning: the job was good for him. Until, I should say, perhaps a month ago, just after the General Election.’

Harry nodded, with grim satisfaction. It had been in the wake of that change of ministry that Zacharias Smith and Cormac McLaggen had been sent off to the British ICW delegation at Troisvierges.

‘It was quite soon after, as I recall, that Draco began to seem overwhelmed and uninterested, and to make quite elementary blunders about the house. Spells backfiring and all, as they say, sorts. Very tiresome. He refused to see a Healer; I was on the verge of intervening when this latest disaster broke upon us. Since then, he’s been simply supine, until today, as wet and limp as, as –’

‘The veg. in a Jade Empress takeaway?’ Harry had eaten – once – at the most evil Chinese restaurant in Totnes.

‘No doubt,’ said Narcissa, who had not.[9] ‘Harry. I know you will save him.’

‘I don’t imagine he’d thank you for putting it just that way. Nor do I intend to leave him resenting a salvation in which he had no part: I intend that he participate, knowingly and willingly, or otherwise.’[10]

‘Yes, of course, darling boy. However – Harry ... I know, we are all aware, that your tastes are, if I may, catholic: I mean that in a sense very different to the Rector’s. Have you ever considered, well ...’

Harry was silent for a moment. Beside them, as they walked, were common poppies, the flower of St Margaret, Poppies a sanguine mantle spread / For the blood of the Dragon that Margaret shed,[11] red as blood-sacrifice, the flowers of remembrance, and the breeze that caught them seemed to echo at the edge of hearing the strains of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ on a grey Remembrance Day.[12] Draco had been a huge part of Harry’s life, at its bloodiest moments, for so very long....

Narcissa smiled. ‘I see you have done: you’re especially fetching when you blush, you know.’

‘Cissy! Look, er ... d’you know how it was that I first realised that I was attracted to both sexes?’

‘Could it have been upon seeing my grandson and your son in the attitude of lovers?’

‘However did you –’

Narcissa laughed, a pure, silvery, skylark sound. ‘Oh, Harry, you darling boy. Draco has had that selfsame revelation – and epiphany – just this afternoon! The lads are positively contagious.

Harry answered with his own laugh, low and rich as loam. ‘Al teases, but I assure you, I am not nor have I ever been perving on your grandson.’

‘Of course not, darling boy. You fancy the father. Probably, when you’ve allowed yourself to think on it, bound and gagged. No, no, Harry! I make sure that everyone – quite unerotically – fantasises about trussing and gagging him: he simply won’t belt up, bless the man. All I can say, darling boy, is, he’ll not admit it, but he is, as the young people say, gagging for it.

‘But here we are at the church, darling boy. We must turn our thoughts to higher things.’ And, with a most Slytherin smile, Narcissa, leaving Harry speechless, swept into the porch, a stunned Harry standing at gaze as Draco toiled into sight in the middle distance.


In London far, a Squib chartered accountant, whose notable gingerness proclaimed his family to all who had eyes to see, was absorbed in columns of figures – and the thrill of the chase.


It was the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the Eve of St Swithin’s Day, in the Church of St Margaret ante Porcos. Under the bludgeonings of evil chances, Draco Malfoy sat unmoved, his head bloody but unbowed, set stonily upon a stony path. He would be at all costs the master of his fate, whatever gods there be.

He took but a superficial pleasure from the voluntary (Stanford, naturally, the G minor Prelude),[13] played on the baroque organ, the second of the two the parish boasted. The first hymn (‘All my hope on God is founded’)[14] washed over him unheeded.

Unmoved, he listened to the Rector’s pronouncements of the sentences of old, that When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive; and, Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Without meaning a word of it as he meditated upon his vengeance, he joined in the words of the General Confession: ... there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders....

The Our Father also did not touch him even with the secular charm of poetry; he was focused solely upon the future of his son, and upon his own future as a means to that end.

To the Responses, nothing in him responded. If he assented in part to the words of the Psalmist, Quam bonus Israel!,[15] it was only to the reflection that

I was grieved at the wicked : I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity.
For they are in no peril of death : but are lusty and strong.
They come in no misfortune like other folk : neither are they plagued like other men.

Unlike the Psalmist, he had no intention of relying upon God to put paid to the ungodly that prosper in the world; he had almost said as much, openly, had it not condemned the generation of his child. It would be he alone, revenging him upon his enemies, who did

set them in slippery places : and castest them down, and destroyest them.
O how suddenly do they consume : perish, and come to a fearful end!

It was, as it ever was, Harry only who could rouse him, and catch his attention, as he soon did.


Fleur nor Gabrielle was at all pleased with Bill and Dennis, but that could be taken out of their respective husbandly hides afterwards. This evening, they were dining with their parents, and Hermione, and Viktor Krum’s mother and father, all as Harry had arranged.


It was the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the Eve of St Swithin’s Day, in the Church of St Margaret ante Porcos, and at Evensong, Harry’s blood sang within him. From the great brass eagle of the lectern, he bent his emerald eye, burning with a hard and gem-like flame, upon the small congregation, and particularly upon one Draco Malfoy, sitting like a marble monument in one of the Aveline House pews. This was the spark, this, the challenge, that he had been wanting: he saw before him a few glorious days, in which every passage of words should be laden gunwales-deep with double and treble meanings, charged with the cat-and-mouse tension of his old tradecraft, spycraft, warfighting – and with the treble meanings of an erotic charge.

The First Reading,[16] then, in Sir Harry’s ringing baritone, honed by years of giving commands on parade ground and in action:

‘If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:
‘Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.’


Cormac McLaggen, in Troisvierges, having finally shaken off that ghastly bore Smith, sank gratefully into a comfortable chair, and as gratefully into a very brown Firewhisky and soda.


It was the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the Eve of St Swithin’s Day, in the Church of St Margaret ante Porcos, and Draco Malfoy – meditating his courses, and whether and how, even within sight of the Grail, he could if wanted foil the fatally well-meant meddling of the Master of the Hallows in his desperation to save something for his son out of the wreckage of his hopes – had no ear for the Magnificat (Stanford in G),[17] or for the suggestion that anyone save himself should pull down the mighty from their seats or send the rich empty away.


The current head of the ICW had departed London in some haste. Whatever the perfidious British were about, he wanted no part of it.


It was the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the Eve of St Swithin’s Day, in the Church of St Margaret ante Porcos, and Sir Harry, pinning Draco Malfoy with a military glare, was well into the Second Reading:[18]

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.


[2] Ps. 51.7.

[4] Paraphrased from Ps. 97.1.

[5] The Cornish method is jam first, then clotted cream; the Devonian, the reverse.

[6] Henley, ‘Invictus’: http://www.bartleby.com/103/7.html. Draco never does manage to get through the poem.

[8] Shades of Dand MacNeill.

[9] Filched, in form, from a conversation had by Charles Parker with a witness in one of the Wimsey stories, but damned if I recall which.

[10] An involuted theological jest regarding the RCs and participation in one’s own salvation by works.

[11] Traditional, apparently; I’ve never been able to track it to its source. (Just you watch; someone will do, in five minutes, and berate me.)

[14] The Rutter arrangement of Howells, naturally; see http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/a/a133.html.

[15] Ps. 73.

[16] 1 Kings 8.22 – 61.

[18] Matt. 9.35 – 10.23.

Tags: ,

Leave a comment