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We happy Few - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
We happy Few
We happy Few
Yesterday was of course the day. In Britain, at any rate. In the Commonwealth at large, Sunday’s the day. You’ll see which day soon enough. This is therefore posted in between the two commemorations. This is a sequel to ‘Potterwatching’, in its way.
Major (retired) the Hon Rupert Alwyn Theodoric Miles Finch-Fletchley, late Royal Regiment of Artillery, of ffinch Hall, Fletchley Abbas, Burwell, Cambs, loyally took an interest in the doings of his second son as in those of his first. He had taken with equanimity the news that the lad was a Wizard. He had taken with equanimity the news that the lad was not precisely partial to the company of Witches. He had taken with equanimity the news that his son’s civil partner was to be that Continental bounder the Zabini bugger, and had actually grown rather fond of the fellow, who, as it turned out, wasn’t half the bounder he’d been painted.
Major Finch-Fletchley was an equable fellow all ’round – in mufti. Every Gunner alive knew that he was a holy terror when things got hot – and the Jimmies of R SIGNALS had learnt it as well when he’d pulled strings to help Justin, and George and the late Fred, and Lee Jordan, and the late Professor Lupin, to keep ‘Potterwatch’ on air. (The Snatchers and Death Eaters who’d tried to put paid to ‘Potterwatch’ had learnt the same lesson, at one remove, but had not profited by it, and had been unable to pass the knowledge on, as they were very satisfactorily dead.)
Very little ruffled the gallant Major’s calm, or had done since his wife’s death. (He’d married, conventionally, a distant cousin, but it had been, at bottom, a love-match.) The most startlement he’d shown at being introduced to a magical household and the presence of House Elves had been when he’d discovered that the toast actually came to the table properly warm, and, owing to charms, remained so. He’d regretted ever since not having House Elves of his own. The Hon Rupert quite unabashedly liked his creature comforts: Northern Ireland and the Falklands had seen to that.
Calmly and equably, he’d seen with pride Justin’s ascent in his world and its Wizarding version of the FCO. Calmly and equably, he’d come to know the lad’s friends: smiling discreetly at how Emma had knocked at least some of the stuffiness out of that complete Sir Humphrey, young Macmillan; assisting Aster – pretty girl, that, and greatly missed and mourned nowadays, as much as was Ginevra – in taking young Malfoy down a much needed peg or two; talking soldierly shop with young Harry, who impressed him very much indeed, although naturally one doesn’t say so in so many words; enjoying immensely the sheer bufferdom of Arthur Weasley and the utter decency and dignity of Tony Goldstein; mourning with them when deaths befell.
Harry had, what time he’d been seconded to the Isles Aurors, begun to revolutionise magical warfare, naval and aerial. There was simply no question but that Major Finch-Fletchley should accept Justin’s and Blaise’s invitation to see the fruits of that revolution when Harry was to make formal the formation and activation of the Royal Corps of Aurors Flying Corps, in the presence of the Sovereign and the Minister.
He knew Harry. And he knew that Harry had chosen the date deliberately. He steeled himself to equanimity.
It stood him in good stead enough through the ceremony and the flypast. It cracked a bit when the Memorial Flight overflew them, Disillusioned from the Muggles.
Oh, yes, young Harry knew perfectly well what he was doing. His grave exchange of nods with the Major at that moment attested to that quite sufficiently.
The ceremonies were over, and the pomp and pageantry put away. Justin and a concerned Blaise were waiting to take him home.
‘Ah. Yes. Clever of young Potter.’
‘Er.’ Blaise was a good lad, really, but this sort of thing was beyond him. That 15 September was Battle of Britain Day was not the sort of thing one could expect the poor chap, in fairness, to know.
Justin, however, appeared to be beginning to twig. ‘Oh. Yes. I see; it was, rather.’
‘We’ve not all of us been Gunners, you know.’
Justin was perplexed. To his knowledge, the Finch-Fletchleys had been ornaments of the Royal Regiment of Artillery since 1722.
‘Well, I mean, damn it all, we have been. Your mother’s grandfather, however….’
‘Oh. Of course.’
‘’S why she never knew him. Her father was, what was it, rising two years in age, I think? When his father was shot down. Your great-grandfather’d only just been promoted Squadron Leader. Frightfully young, but the butcher’s bill was a longish one. They were flying from RAF Tangmere at the time – had just been assigned there again after a stint at Debden. Number 601 Squadron, Number 11 Group. Hurricanes, naturally. Poles, Yanks pretending to be Canadian, Canadians and Kiwis and all sorts. It was just this month, September, when he was killed in action – shortly before the Squadron were moved to Exeter with 10 Group.’
‘I’d not really realised.’
‘Remiss of me. We Gunners are a proud and ubiquitous lot, with much to be proud of, but I really have been remiss. Right, then, let’s remedy that. See if young Harry’ll allow himself to be collared, and then we’ll find a pub. And raise, as I know Harry will join us in raising, a glass to the memory of your great-grandfather on your mother’s side, m’boy. Sq Ldr Simon ffinch-Onslow, DFC and Bar, and all the Few.’
The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
– The Prime Minster, Hansard, 20 August 1940

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18 comments or Leave a comment
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: September 16th, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sniffle* Well written, sir.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 16th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

We shall remember them.
tekalynn From: tekalynn Date: September 16th, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
*moment of silence*

Thank you.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 16th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not at all.

Thank you.
From: optasia Date: September 16th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awwww. I have goose bumps. This was perfect.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 16th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

I'm greatly obliged.

In other news: BAIRSTOW!
noeon From: noeon Date: September 16th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's always what one 'd not really realised, isn't it?

So much owed indeed.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 16th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Indeed, yes.

In their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
kestrelsparhawk From: kestrelsparhawk Date: September 17th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
My people of that generation on my mother's side were all fliers -- (US) Navy, since we'd been Navy or sea captains since shortly after the Revolution. My uncle continued that tradition, though he rocked the family by not going career. I've heard a lot of their compatriots, and the Battle of Britain as a splendid example of what we're supposed to be. In fact, I can honestly say that while my politics are what many describe as left, and I describe as middle of the road, the military at its best feels like both an aspiration and a never-to-be-attained object of admiration.

Thanks for this -- I didn't know Britain had a day of memory for this, but it fits. And you put your finger on a big problem for me, which was -- the Dark wizards just had it their own way whenever they wanted to fight -- fighting them was an amateur problem, when wizarding government should have led, rather than interfered. So yes! Of course wizards should have an air corps! And, frankly, also a navy.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 17th, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

And you are acute as ever.

As the dedication of The Confidence of the House: May 1940 attests, my own people have been largely Army, with a really rather surprisingly light presence at sea and in the air.

germankitty From: germankitty Date: September 17th, 2011 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Damn you for making me tear up. In the best possible way (even though my forebears were, technically, sort of, "the enemy").

*wanders off, sniffling*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 17th, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

And enmity of blood and ancestry is surely one thing the war must teach us to reject.
germankitty From: germankitty Date: September 17th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you.

Oh, definitely. I remember feeling Very Proud when my then six-year-old son, on observing a group of Yugoslav men and children sharing the playground we'd taken him to, said -- without having ever been prompted to do so by either of us -- "Why are people demanding that all foreigners leave our country? I like foreigners!"

It was one of Those Moments when you realize that, as a parent, you've Done Something Right.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 17th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

And so you have done.

I say we let in anyone who plays cricket.
germankitty From: germankitty Date: September 17th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: And so you have done.

LOL. I'm sure my husband would agree. I'm one of those Philistines who find cricket excessively boring, alas. *ducks rotten produce*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2011 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)

No one is perfect.

Yet the condition IS curable.

I prescribe TMS.
leela_cat From: leela_cat Date: September 18th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, this. A quiet and lovely story that brings just the right kind of ache along with it.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

And what a perfect icon.
18 comments or Leave a comment