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The captains and the kings depart: part 2 - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
The captains and the kings depart: part 2

The train hurtled onwards, and Harry sank into his memories. 


Moody Barracks and the Irish Aurors, the Daredevils, madcap and ironic: Moody Barracks in the mist, in the green heart of Ireland, between mannered, Georgian Birr and the secret lanes and prick-eared white farmhouses of Syngefield and Clonoghill Lower, a world of jade and malachite more than of emerald, with the Augurey’s cry heralding rains; cluricauns for batmen, bringing one hot, sweet, strong tea with, as often as not, a dash of potheen to it, and the inexhaustible wit and humour in the mess and, better still, overheard amongst the Other Ranks, the Daredevils to a man laughing at their own madness in serving the English monarch, and serving faithfully as they laughed.  The enclosed, misty, green, wet world of County Offaly, with the kettle forever cosily on a hob and the peat-fire even in high summer, and men at ease ’round these, comfortable and domestic, familiar and charming, until the command should come and they should transform once more into warriors of deadly dash: it was a family to be proud of.  Yet it was not his.


Or, again, the East Anglians, bluff and steady, a new model Aurory, and Stow Bedon beneath illimitable skies: East Anglia, planed flat as God’s snooker table by the winds from the grey North Sea, its rivers and hedgerows as slow and as patient and as methodical, its outfalls and drains and Dutch works as scientific, as the Aurors it bred: Witches and Wizards from Lincolnshire and Rutland, Huntingdonsire and Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, hardy and thoughtful all.  East Anglia, that world of reeds and waters sheeting silver in the light, and Wizards and Witches bred to these things until the brassy bugle should drown out the reeds’ whisperings and the silver of the waters give way to the brass and pipe-clay and webbing of duty.  Then would a volley of Apparation startle the ducks and scatter the clouds of starlings, and the whole, steady, Cromwellian and inexorable might of the East Anglians press gravely forward in irresistible force against the enemies of the Crown.  It was a family to be proud of.  Yet it was not his.


And there had been the London and Home Counties Regiment, Northants and Beds, Herts and Bucks, Kent and Surry and larky Middlesex, at Daysbridge Barracks and the Warren, the watch-Crups of the Constitution, leashed by law.  Harry in his day had been seconded to them, and had made one of the officers in half-armour and rich robes who had lined the corridors of Thornminster for a State Opening of the Moot, in all the innocent pomp of Wizarding London in the Restoration; and light-minded folk, touchingly naïve, believed that the Londoners, to the strains of their regimental slow march, ‘From Tower and Hamlet Upon the Thames’, were meant for show and ceremony only, all their officers exquisites and all their Other Ranks cheeky sparrows.  Harry knew better – none better than he.  The Baroque gavottes and Georgian quadrilles in stone that were their barracks hid, as a façade, the unsleeping watch of Aurors trained to the highest pitch and polish of professionalism, whom nothing could daunt and no ministry of a day could any longer cozen – and geld.  Fiercely jealous of their honour and reputation, determined to prove and prove again that they could never again be gulled by any set of politicians, they would, upon lawful command, forego their pleasures, undertake the most onerous privations, put aside all comforts, and sacrifice their lives and even their dignity to accomplish their mission, and accomplish it handsomely and absolutely, to the hilt of the wand. A family to be proud of; and yet even this regimental family was not Harry’s.


He had known, also, the green facings of the Unspeakables and the buff of the Hit Wizards, with their keen, disciplined faces and their intellectual manner; had known mess nights when the punch was served in a great crystal half-sphere that had once been passed off to Boney as being a prophecy orb that promised him the empire of the world if he would but invade Russia; had come to know just what was possible with tensely intelligent NCOs in a regiment where a Witch or Wizard wanted an MMA to be promoted lance-jack and the sergeant’s mess was a sett of DPhils.  And he had seen how these clever devils, the Green Slime and the Buffs, could turn in a flash from airy comparison of epigraphy (the donnish Unspeakables, bringing to bear all Oxford, Cambridge, TCD, and Domdaniel) with stalking Nundu (the hearty, crafty shikar-wallahs of the Hit Wizards, muscularly Christian intellectuals who believed a life of action to be the highest good), and confound the knavish tricks of any enemy alive without spilling a drop of port.  There was a family to be proud of.  Yet it was not his.


And he’d known, also, St Beccan Lines, Sgurr nan Gillean, where the Isles Aurors on Rùm had fronted the Atlantic gales and the Isles winters: Norse Gaels and Gaelic Norsemen, amidst the ponies and the red deer and the goats, with stout stone barracks beneath the rowan and the hawthorn and the siller birch, the Witches and Wizards of Ross and Cromarty and Bute, Shetlanders and Orcadians, ever jealous of their rivalry with the Scots caterans who recruited from Caithness to Wigtownshire, from Kincardine to Argyll; and all of them with charms upon them all their days, so that they might give and receive orders indifferently in the Gaelic and in English and in the Old Norse the longships had brought to the Isles.  There had been a dragon, too, half-tame, a Hebridean Black whose purple eyes were lazily hooded when he accepted collops of venison from the cook-sergeant, and who roared aloud when the lads, more solemn and rapt even than the Jocks at their fitba’, would take to the wild skies with the geese and play but slightly safer versions of the outlawed Aingingein and Creaothceann.  And it had been Harry and his generation of Aurors who had revolutionised their trade with making combat to happen in more dimensions than the ground, with aerial warfare and with naval and amphibious actions, and it had been the Isles Aurors to the fore of those who had first shown, under Harry, what role Aurors on brooms, and Aurors in magical longships, might play.  A family they were to be proud of; and yet, they were not his family, and that was the way of it.


There’d been, as well, the Midlands Aurors, Aurors from the Potteries and the Black Country, and if the Muggles had taken those names to themselves, it was nevertheless the case that the mess, in their barracks deep in the bracken and heath of Cannock Chase, where the fallow deer trip and the nightjars call, held its portraits of Potters of a northern cadet line, and Blacks of old, who watched and weighed the officers of a latter day.  They did not find them wanting: not the young officers, still less the Other Ranks: for the Midlands Aurors, drawn from Salop and Staffs, Leics and Warks, and apple-cheeked from scrumping Herefordshire and Worcestershire. ‘Common Clay Fired in Battle’, were as fine a fighting force as ever sloped wands.  Thrawn foresters and poachers (often one and the same), argumentative Dissenters from the cities, open-handed, slow-spoken countrymen and women from the Marches, together they formed a quick, hard-striking unity, the Wild Boars with their pet regimental mascot of a Tamworth pig (for all that other regiments called them the Nogtails).  A fine family for an Auror to call his own; yet it was not Harry’s.


And there had been as well the Manx Aurors, clean-limbed and quiet, grave in barracks and in battle, yet with a streak of devilment in them, superstitious, given to practical humour, at Agneash Barracks beneath mighty Snaefell, where the clacketting of the railway disturbed the fairies, old Sniaull with its temperaments, from whose summit one may see the Seven Kingdoms, Mann, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Heaven, and the sea, Manannán’s ancient ocean realm.  Traa dy liooar, time enough, was their peacetime motto, and their drill was the despair of English RSMs; yet let the bugle call, and the Bob-Tails would come clawing and spitting, morning and afternoon – the Manx even in their language know no evening nor any night – and farewell to the fairies and the dreamy life, they’d be first with time enough to spare, and wade in like cats and Mauthe dogs, giving no quarter and asking less.  They fought with half-forgotten spells, ancient cantrips and Old Norse curses, berserking, as who would defend his small holding and her own sweet hearth, and no enemy could defeat them until they were all dead in their ranks, and not always then, as they rose revenant and pressed on ghostly against the foe, the sons and daughters of Manannán and of Thor.  They were a fine family to call one’s own; yet they were not Harry’s.

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noeon From: noeon Date: May 19th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Now how is Nundu stalking anything like epigraphy? *curiosity intervenes* This is something like a poetic mustering of magical Britain in Harry's remembrance. He has been everywhere and yet they are not his.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 20th, 2010 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Ravens and writing-desks.

Ta, love.
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