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The fourth Plinth, Part 2a - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
The fourth Plinth, Part 2a


HM Ambassador to the Hanse was giving herself a Very Stern Lecture.

You, Autumn’s child, are HM Ambassador to the High and Mighty Merchaunty of the Hanseatic League and accredited as an envoy by the Goblins. You carried your wand at the Battle of Hogwarts. You are a Chang, a Leung, a Soon, and a Kung. You are British, and better still, you are Chinese. These Western barbarians cannot hope to hold you. You are not any longer a weepy schoolgirl, you are a very senior and accomplished Witch, and you cannot possibly stay here a moment longer given the utter shambles dear Leslie shall have reduced the house to in the absence of Muggle servants, and why must the man be so damn’ unreasonable about house-elves? And durance vile is a doddle after school in freezing Scotland, and the nosh is sure to be better, so keep up your strength, my girl, and wait your chance, you’re not some swooning maiden to be rescued.

When the key turned in the lock, therefore, she was poised and ready for anything.

Well, very nearly anything.

‘G- – Goyle?’ She had known that, since the War, Goyle had spent time – Harry of course had arranged it – with Healers, had been acquitted of any charges on the basis of mental incapacity (Ron Weasley had, it was rumoured, remarked that he’d never known Goyle to possess any mental capacity at all), and had spent most of his time on the Continent. She had also heard, and now saw, that he was still as large of frame as ever, but now muscled only, neither fat as he had been at school nor gaunt as he had been reported in the first post-war years. The rumoured tremor that had afflicted him in the years immediately after the War was not evident now. She was suddenly saddened that he had fallen once more into evil courses, after all that had been done in his behalf to rescue and remedy him.

‘Yeah, hullo, cheers, Chang. Well. I never can remember your married name.’

Years of diplomatic training are not lightly to be shaken off: habit is second nature, after all. ‘It’s quite all right,’ said she, and sighed humorously; ‘no one ever does.’

‘Hope y’ don’t mind herrin’,’ said Greg Goyle. ‘Pretty steady diet of it with this lot. Here.’

‘Thank you.’ She looked at him with a puzzlement that was almost amused. He didn’t seem brutal – or guilty. ‘You, ah….’

Greg shrugged. ‘They’re thicker’n I am. Honestly, it’s chronic. Poliakoff thinks I work for him. What he doesn’t know is, I work for Krum.’


‘Yeah, well. Never could get on with that Irish bugger. And I’m not popular back home, not really, even now. Oh, don’t worry, miss, I mean ma’am, they think they’ve charms up, mainly because they don’t think I’m clever enough to know the counterspells. Like I said, thick as two short planks. Look, I can’t stop, but I’m booked to bring your brekker, sit tight until then, will you?’

‘You’re going off duty?’

‘Yeah. You won’t be disturbed; they think you’re warded and all, and none of ’em speak English, stupid b- – ah, beggars, it’s a political stance, God help us, so you’ll not be bothered. ’S why they picked me to wait on you, when I’m not serving as extra muscle. Don’t worry; I’m down the local Sportspalast for a bit of sparring, Muggle-style.’

She waited.

He grinned. ‘Yeah, Harry’s cousin. Stupid sods: right under their noses. They don’t look twice at Muggles and Squibs. See y’ tomorrow, Your Nibs. Chin up.’


Perhaps the most closely-held secret in the Wizarding world was this: that, at the end of the day, when emotion was spent and cold reason and serious business at hand, it was of kindly, indulgent, sleepy Arthur Weasley, rather than his formidable wife, that their sons and grandchildren went in the most respectful dread.

‘You are quite likely to run across, and may very well be required to work with, three people to whom you have not been the best of friends over the years. Fortunately, Ron is not going with you.

‘You’ll not treat Viktor Krum with any disrespect. His father is the Bulgarian head of government, he is a very senior man in the ICW – officially – and unofficially, he is precisely what you’d expect him to be, as our devoted friend and a firm opponent of tyranny: the Deputy Chief of International Criminal Enforcement for the ICW. He is not actually Zograf’s number two in dealing with the World Bloody Cup, all right? And you’ll not call him “Vicky” – or I’ll know the reason why.

‘Since those dreadful days when you were all schoolboys, you’ve been much kinder to Dudley, and wisely, too, as I’d not wish to annoy Elspeth, myself. She’s Millie’s cousin for a reason, you know, Squib or not. Nevertheless, I expect you, all of you, to treat him, if you see him and he acknowledges you, with the utmost respect.

‘Finally, there’s a young man who works for Viktor Krum and whom you will do well to remember as not being the man you remember. You know Dudley’s and Elspeth’s work with brain injury and what-not – our Healers could learn a great deal of them. They’ve taken this young man in hand, and he’s now a useful and decent member of Wizarding society. You are to treat Gregory Goyle – be silent, George, at once – with kindness and respect. No, I’ll not hear a word of it: at the moment, he’s doing rather more for our cause than you are.

‘Percy, do try to be human and humane, red tape is not the answer. Bill, do be less wolfish than you may be tempted to be. George: take this seriously. Had Fred taken danger a trifle more seriously, there’d not be an empty place at table nowadays for him, and I’ll be damned if I bury a third child. Lorcan, Lysander, model yourselves on your late father and your stepfather, this once, rather than upon various past Marauders and infamous twins. You’re not Gred-and-Forge nor yet Fabian-and-Gideon: act accordingly.’

He looked at them gravely.

‘I should very much like to see you all back safely.’


Dudley Dursley was a markedly fit and contented man, happily married to Millie Bulstrode’s Squib cousin Elspeth – a born Matron if ever there were one, who had seen to his becoming and remaining fit and contented – the proud father of Harry’s goddaughter Harriet (the very model of a modern Old Hufflepuff, that one), and, after early years at Headway (he’d seen more than enough head and brain injury in the ring), now a senior administrator of the Trust for the selfsame Great Ormond Street Hospital his formidable Elspeth so formidably helped run.

He was also rather by way of being a protégé of Arthur’s, which, he reflected, had had some bloody rum consequences and had got him from time to time entangled in Wizarding adventures even Cousin Harry shouldn’t have managed to drag him into. One simply couldn’t somehow manage to say no to Arthur….


‘Really,’ said Percy, rather fussily, ‘I might have expected that of Mum, but…. I mean, George is a Royal Warrant holder and was granted the Queen’s Award for Magical Enterprise, he’s a perfectly respectable businessman these days.’ Percy was no longer the Percy of his youth, but he was still rather the sort to be impressed by such tinsel and trumpery.

George was nodding with implausible solemnity and sincerity, in which Bill put no trust whatever.

‘Perce….’ Bill sighed. ‘George was given the Award for Innovations in Magical Mayhem, and as for the Royal Warrant, it was conferred by the only member of the Royal Family whose favourite Wizard is Dai Llewellyn. Being a purveyor of japes and dangerous devilments By Appointment to HRH Prince Harry of Wales is not precisely an endorsement of Georgie’s good sense and solid reputation.’

Bill knew, even as he spoke, that the Scamander Twins’ reverence for George Weasley had just markedly and ominously increased. Why were twins always and everywhere a threat to the Sovereign’s Peace?


Harry Potter, as such: fond father, loving partner, pleasant neighbour, kindly local squire, Old-Uncle-Tom-Cobley-an’-all: was rarely difficult, and when Harry Potter quâ Harry Potter, James’ and Al’s and Lils’ pater, Ginny’s widower and Draco’s love, sidesman and local councillor and All That, was prey to exasperation, his children, or Draco, could very easily jolly him out of it.

When Field-Auror Marshal the earl of Aveline, Chief of the Magical General Staff, was in a strop, the Minister nor Hermione nor his children nor, certainly, Draco (who, being fiercely protective of Harry, commonly shared his stroppiness and sided with him) could do anything with him. It wanted two Wizards only to deal with him, and Neville was far too busy just now.

‘Mate,’ said Ron, ‘get yourself sorted, at least we played the Ashes at home this year, it’s not as if you want to be up at all hours to catch TMS from sunny Oz whilst we freeze our bollocks off.’


Just before Teddy was to usher them in upon the other set of rooms, in another B&B, in another village, and under another name, that young Septimus Rankshaw-Pyke had taken, Millie popped back to her quarters to place a quick fire-call by Floo. She had explicitly not disclosed who it was she intended to flare-up, allowing the rest of the team to make their own assumptions. She was reasonably certain not even Teddy was likely to twig.

‘Millicent, dear. What a lively surprise.’

Millie grunted. She was not one to wait upon ceremony. ‘Narcissa, I’m worried about your step-granddaughter.’

‘So you may well be, darling. She’ll simply be obliged to tell you herself: it’s not my tale to tell. I will say, however, that the immediate problem has been … dealt with. Minerva and Filius and dear Hermione were most helpful.’


In HM Forces, magical as well as Muggle, there is only one excuse and one justification for insolence or insubordination: success.

Harry unbent sufficiently to give Ron a wintry smile. ‘I shall try not to be wholly unbearable. Right, then. Drag Xeno over here, if you would.’


‘Herr Dursley? Are you well?’

‘Oh, yes. Fine. Bugger has a longer reach than I thought.’ Dudley heaved himself from the canvas and touched gloves with his sparring opponent. ‘Typical, I come to Lübeck on business and end up in the ring with an expat – and he beats me. Look here, old man – you know the place, I hope: where’s the nearest thing to a real pub?’

His late opponent furrowed his brow. ‘Not really one. I’ve got used to the local beer. Nearest thing to a real pub’s the Irish place. Finnegan’s, would you believe: on Mengstraße. But –’

‘No, no,’ said Dudley. ‘Let me get cleaned and changed and I’ll buy you a pint. You earnt it, old boy.’

As Dudley bustled off towards the changing rooms, he could see the large Englishman talking briefly and urgently with a rather vulpine German. He didn’t want Extendable Ears to guess what the conversation concerned: Goyle was clearly explaining that, damn it, they expected him to stay fit, which is why he boxed, and, damn it, they expected he not attract suspicion, which meant he’d no choice but to have a polite pint with a fellow Englishman abroad….


The second set of rooms, not to say, bolthole, taken by young Rankshaw-Pyke was impersonal, incredibly orderly, and scrupulously clean, even by Nordic standards. There was but one thing out of place: a small pendant on a silver chain, that might to all appearances have fallen unremarked from – well, a dressing table, Millie rather thought, although really one could only call it a sort of flat-packed Platonic archetype of IKEA-tude: it was the most annoyingly Danish attempt at whimsy this side of Sandi Toksvig.

Teddy studied it carefully, from a distance, keeping the rest of them firmly away. He made a few wand movements, silently, and slowly backed away, leading them swiftly from the room and the house.

Millie had recognised the rather anchor-like shape, scrolled with runes like a branch riddled by worms. Of course Lily had done, and Freddie certainly must have done, surely. Rose had not, and Rose was quite clever enough not to be ashamed to ask when she did not know something. ‘What was –’

Teddy silenced her immediately. ‘Rose, if you’d be so kind, will you take us back to the Consulate?’

She shot him a very old-fashioned look, tossed her head, and granted his request with such grace as she could muster.


To be continued…



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10 comments or Leave a comment
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: January 2nd, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nicely done!

BTW typo:

Drag Xeno over here, of you would.

If, yes?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 2nd, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, thank you.

It hate when that happens. Thanks.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: January 3rd, 2011 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Huzzah, Elspeth is back! And the Scamander Twins! Nice job with Goyle, too.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 3rd, 2011 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

My view is, if I must be awake to all hours for the Ashes, I may as well profit by it.
absynthedrinker From: absynthedrinker Date: January 3rd, 2011 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Sandi Toksvig! Good Lord man I didn't see that coming! And now the tea all over my papers.

Thanks for the giggle.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 3rd, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

No one expects the Danish inquisition.

Thankee, lad.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: January 3rd, 2011 09:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Intriguing stuff. And my goodness, Finnegans!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 3rd, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ironic, isn't it.

sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: January 15th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Hello? Anybody Home?

{Lonesome howl of coyote...}

{Whistle of wind over the moor...}

{other metaphor for empty space...}

We do want the next chapter, but not if you're, like dead or something...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: January 16th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Your patience is being rewarded.

Even as we speak.
10 comments or Leave a comment