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The fourth pinth: 5b (last) - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
The fourth pinth: 5b (last)
Op Sibelius was assuredly on.
Apparition and broom-travel had long meant that the Channel was never the ‘moat defensive’ it had been to the Muggles; Wizarding warfare had long been a clash of forces engaged in what was little better than mass duelling. No more. Harry, and Ron and Neville and the others, had, in the first years of the Restoration, rewritten the rules and the War Book, and the Royal Corps of Aurors stood now ready and supreme upon land, at sea, and in the air. The battle-space nowadays extended in all directions and dimensions; and although enemies of the Crown had begun, sporadically and tentatively, to attempt ærial operations of their own, or to defend against them, casting whilst flying – indeed, wielding a wand in war whilst flying to a standard that professional Quidditchers rarely attained – wanted drill, and drill, and drill, and discipline on the order unique to the Royal Corps of Aurors Flying Section. Sharp-casting snipers, Light Companies, Lightfoots, the products of the Sandgate System, had emerged, mirroring the Rifles and the Light Division and their successors, with more than a touch of the commando ethos thrown in. Potential enemies having learnt to ward against Apparating and to scan the skies for death from above, the Royal Corps of Aurors had developed – or redeveloped, for the first time since the days the of Classis Britannica – something of a Navy, which Wizardom had never wanted, due, again, to Apparition and broom-travel. The Special Longship Section, like its brothers of the Maritime Foot Aurors – the Wizarding Royal Marines, who served wand-by-wand with the SLS – never boasted; it wasn’t necessary that it do.
It was shortly before dawn.
The captives, imperceptibly defended by Elves and guarded by a ring of waiting, concealed Goblin warriors, were fed and ready and calm, awaiting rescue. Cho was listening for Greg Goyle’s signalling steps. At Grimmauld and in the seeming-deserted Plinth, the GAC and his staff, the Ministerial committee, and the Scots Aurors were getting a hot breakfast and gallons of hot, sweet tea in them, awaiting battle.
Harry had known it unnecessary to address them as to their duty and the fight ahead: they knew their duty, and they should win as a matter of course. He had had a few words, rather, for those gathered at Grimmauld, and these were upon another heading altogether.
‘Minister. All of you. It has been impressed upon me – and quite right, too – that I owe you, all of you, an apology. Series of them, really. We’ve all of us had our Christmas hols ruined: a Boxing Day murder will do that. The rest of you have kept your tempers. I’ve not. Inexcusable of me. And I’ve not kept my temper because, clearly, I’m getting past it: too old for this sort of thing. Or, rather, I’ve been doing it too long. Kingsley, when we’re finished with this, I shall speak with you about my relinquishing appointment as CMGS. The –’
‘Steady on, mate,’ said Ron, with amusement and alarm equally present in his tone. ‘You’re not suddenly lumbering me with the job.’
‘That,’ said Kingsley, ‘is for the Minister and Cabinet of the day to decide. Which shan’t be me. I’m a damned sight older than you are, Potter, and now you’re over your self-obsession as the only possible CMGS, I’ve every intention of seeing you in my chair in the Cabinet Room – and that poky flat under the eaves in Upping Street.’
‘Kingsley –’
‘You can’t avoid it, Harry.’ Kingsley was sympathetic and amused; he was also right. The Great Wizarding Public should demand no less; the Chairwitch and Central Office and the constituency associations were prepared to see if Harry could yet throw off the Imperius should he try to refuse; and the 1999 Committee had long since made up their minds – in most cases, in 1999.
Harry sighed. ‘I am advised in no uncertain terms to accept gracefully whatever comes – and to stop blocking everyone else’s careers. To you in particular, Ron, I apologise.’
‘Oh, don’t,’ Ron groaned. ‘Please.
‘You’ll take it if offered?’ Harry was sharply commanding.
Ron looked over at Hermione, and then nodded.
‘Very well. Again, I do realise I’ve been an utter tit, I am truly sorry, and I do apologise. Now. I shall return within the quarter hour.’
Harry turned as all of them – Draco included – stared, cast the Floo powder into the hearth, and said, firmly, ‘HM Consulate Bornholm.’
To his fortune, at this hour, no one was there to see his exit from the Floo – even now as graceless as ever – save the infinitely discreet Duty Elf, who swiftly dusted him down and directed him to the Auror barracks before rousing Rose to go and meet her uncle there.
Within five minutes, Su and Millie, Rose, Teddy, Freddy, Den and his lads, and Ærke-Auror Bjørnson, were listening grimly, no longer yawning and suddenly wakeful.
Two minutes after, the Danish Troldmand-Forsvarschefen, Ærke-Auror Gyde-Birgit Koldings, had come through the Floo at the urgent request of Ærke-Auror Bjørnson.
‘I’m very glad you were able to come back, ma’am. And to come to my assistance so early. Coffee and bitters? Something by way of Morgenmad?’
‘Coffee, thank you, Jørgen. You said there was a – situation.
‘Yes. Perhaps Colonel Creevey and Field-Auror Marshal the earl Avelyn should explain.’
She never reached her wand.
Six minutes after, leaving Den to explain to the rest of the British contingent, Harry was back at Grimmauld.
Precisely at 5.12 GMT that morning, with a few exceptions – Mungo’s, notably – the Floo system in the Home Counties had been disabled to civilian traffic by the Ministry, its chimes silenced, and its wards keyed to admit only Jamie and his lads and Harry’s party from Grimmauld.
Now, as Harry prepared to dispose his party around the perimeter of the Plinth, Viktor, Bill, George, Percy, Lorcan, Lysander, and Dudley were moving to Ritzebüttel, Cuxhaven, to join the SLS for their infiltration of and liberation of Neuwerk. Viktor, Bill, George, Percy, and the Scamander Twins had their wands, of course; Dudley had a Webley Mk VI – and two pair of boxing gloves.
Low tide was to be within the half-hour after the late December sunrise at Neuwerk. Team Hanse knew from Greg Goyle that Cho’s breakfast was brought to her well before sunrise. Today, especially, it was likely that the cell holding Cho, like the cells that held the various Rankshaw-Pykes captive, should be up and about early; for the teams that were being despatched to London by the network should wish to move well before sunrise.
Team Hanse – like Den’s Team Baltic – knew very well that their primary objective was rescue, and their secondary, capture and interrogation. Harry was no longer the youth who had defeated Tom Riddle with an Expelliarmus: years on the sharp end had intervened to form him to his present mould, and when he struck, he struck hard, nowadays, and prisoners and intel were very much a lesser concern than victory at as little cost to his own troops and the civilian populace as was possible.
There was ice already in the Baltic: fast ice upon the strands even where the sea was largely clear. There was little wind in the predawn hours near Bornholm and Ertholmene, where wind more than weak, mediterranean tidal action affected sea levels, and the seas where not frozen were gelid and sluggish in this weather. An SLS team was to take them near to the islands, after which they’d be brought ashore, undetectably, by the Elves. Su, Freddy, and Millie remained on Bornholm, in the Consulate with Rose – British soil by law – with Ærke-Auror Bjørnson assisting in the interrogation of his former chief. She had been better off had she been facing Den’s Aurors in open battle. Sweet, fluffy Su was ruthless even by Millie’s Old Slytherin standards, as medicos will be, and Rose had learnt the art of questioning at her mother’s dinner table. Teddy, recalled from his reserve status, was to take a half-section patrol to Græsholm, whilst Den took the remainder to Frederiksø.
In the Baltic and on Neuwerk, Goblins held the perimeter already and were to provide support in reserve.
At 6.45 CET – 5.45 Greenwich – all British forces assigned to Op Sibelius were in place. British airspace was closed, anti-Apparation and anti-Portkey wards covered Gay Verses Mews, Owls were grounded, and – save for Harry’s destined prey – no one should come to Britain … or leave the Three Kingdoms without his express permission: the Continent was cut off. Cho, in Neuwerk, heard Greg Goyle’s tread on the stairs, clutched her wand, checked her spells and conjurations, and readied herself to cast her Patronus.
Greg was, at bottom, an Old Slytherin. The Hat had seen something in him when he’d been Sorted. His acting was surprisingly good. With a great clatter, he dropped the breakfast, and – in the character of a bit of Wizarding muscle too thick to use a wand to signal – bellowed for help. Two Witches and a Wizard came pounding down the stairs, and crashed into one another as they saw Cho’s cell: the lake of the dead, the island of Tuonela in its midst, and the sacred swan swimming slowly about it. Their fantasies had come to life before them, and they stared, forgetting the most elementary security.
Three minutes after, they found themselves, bound, muzzy, and disoriented, in the perfectly dry cell they’d prepared for Cho, who, with Goyle, stood in the door, wands trained on them, Goblin warriors ominous behind them. Looming over them was Viktor Krum. Ranged beside him with faces variously stern, contemptuous, and lit with unholy glee, were Bill, Percy, and George and his twin protégés the Scamanders. To one side was a tough, muscular Muggle.
‘You have been very foolish,’ said Viktor, reprovingly. ‘And now you are going to tell us all of the ways in which you have been foolish.’
A Witch – a besom prematurely raddled by long indulgence in the Dark Arts, a sort of Scandinavian Bellatrix – screamed defiance. ‘You cannot make us talk!’
‘We have,’ Viktor said, making a meal of the irony, ‘ways of making you talk. Also, the war for you is over. These are Weasleys. Those two are the infamous Scamander Twins. You will talk.’
‘You cannot use such means!’
‘Your Chief is even now being interrogated by her former subordinate. You are an international terrorist group, and the Danish and British Ministers are pleased to leave you to the ICW to deal with: for which read, me. Do not dare to claim legal protections when you have put yourselves wholly outside the law. Yet even with terrorists I will do nothing that is forbidden. But there is nothing in law that prevents George Weasley feeding you sweets. And if you resist even so, there are Muggle means that are not covered or contemplated by Wizarding restrictions upon interrogation. Mr Dursley brought boxing gloves for his and Mr Goyle’s use. After the sixth punch over the kidneys, at most, you will tell me things you have never admitted even to yourselves.
‘Or – as your victim is accredited by the Goblins also: you were fools to seize a diplomat, and greater fools to offend the Goblin nation – I can let them … ask you things.’
Percy scarce had time to get his quill out before the captured terrorist began to spill all they knew.
Simultaneously with the swift success at Neuwerk, the Nogtails, with Goblins in support, had extracted the various Rankshaw-Pykes and handed them off, with Elves in attendance, to the SLS for conveyance to the Consulate on Bornholm. As arranged, Den and Teddy and their Aurors saw to it that the alarms were then sounded. The responding terrorists were swiftly disarmed and trussed like turkeys.
None of the cells, nor their head, the former Chief of the Danish Defence Staff (Wizarding), had managed to get off a warning to the team now headed for London. Already, interrogations in Denmark and on Neuwerk had given up the name of the organisation, which had been swiftly passed to Harry: Valknut.
‘Original,’ said Tony’s Patronus to Harry, with disdain. ‘At least it wasn’t that damned swastika again, for all its connexions with Thor’s hammer in early iconography. The Witch gave up her minions quickly enough.’
Harry sent back, ‘She had two motives – she certainly wasn’t a believer in this rot, or passionately irredentist about the Danelaw. She wanted the mun, and she wanted a political crisis she could use, with the readies in hand, to catapult her into office. There’s a reason we don’t allow politics in this country to don uniform – or vestments. Now stand to your wands, all of you – they’re…. Ah. And here the buggers are.’
The chain of coastal wardstones had picked up the broom-flight as the enemy had crossed near Cromer, ignorant of their having been pinpointed by Poringland and West Beckham Wardstations. The Valknut flight had landed in Walthamstow Marshes, and Portkeyed from there. They formed a sloppy perimeter upon landing, alert to danger but hopelessly ill-disciplined. Draco knew better than most that Harry believed in giving everyone a chance to repent their wrongs … unless they were a threat to others. With only a few scufflings and noises, heart-stoppingly still in the silence, the motley Scandinavian crew made their way towards the front door of the pub: clearly they did not realise that the treasure they sought was already long since incorporated in the fabric of the most obscene work of public art in the Three Kingdoms.
Harry cast his Sonorus. ‘Cast down your arms and surrender. I am Field-Auror Marshal the earl Avelyn, and you are surrounded.’
By way of reply, two of the enemy cast Unforgiveables towards the distant figures of constables on point duty – the Transfigured tankards of the night before. Another sent a Reducto towards the door of the pub. That was quite enough.
The drums rolled and the pipes quickened to the music of the charge: Hey, Johnnie Cope, are ye waukin’ yet? The Scots Aurors poured wandfire upon the terrorists from the upper windows of the pub. They broke and ran, trying without hope to activate Portkeys or Apparate. Their brooms, abandoned upon the plinth, Harry set ablaze. Al and Scorp, shoulder to shoulder, took them in flank; Harry, Draco, Ron, Tony, Kingsley, and Nev poured hexes upon them. A tall, grim Viking of a Wizard returned fire towards Harry’s position: foolishly, fatally.
It was over. Hermione cut off her own unconscious scream. The red jam that was spread over the ancient gold and jewellery repurposed to make Aneros Melling’s randy art, had been a Wizard seconds ago, before Harry’s Reducto. The two survivors of the Valknut team hardly wanted to be bound: they were severely injured, and unlikely to last out the forenoon.
She had seen battle: in the Department of Mysteries; at Hogwarts. Yet she had not, she realised, seen battle before. And it was borne in suddenly upon her that she had married an Auror: married the job as well as the man: and that Ron was to succeed Harry in this appointment now. For years she had been able to forget the memories of the Veil. For years she had been able to forget the Great Hall and the dead. For years she had been able to forget that Harry was no longer the brave boy who’d used no spells stronger than Expelliarmus even against the darkest of foes. For years, Ron had amiably accepted Staff appointment as Q to the Aurors, creating with George the whiz-bangs and cunning devices that furnished forth the Aurors – for this, for battle, for the razored sharp end. Now Ron was to follow Harry as CMGS, in the fashion in which Harry, always thirsty for action, had established, asserting himself in field commands properly left to gallant young captains.
It wanted all her strength of character not to be copiously sick.
Op Sibelius was done and dusted; and the success had allowed Kingsley to take upon Harry his own, exquisite revenge for years of unnecessary Ministerial toil whilst Harry played Auror.
‘I’m not going to ask,’ said Ron to his nephew. ‘I know you. You want the bad news first.’
Jamie looked at his uncle. He could feel the chill wind battering against the door to the adjacent room, and hear the sounds of things smashing. Not being smashed: Harry Potter was not one to throw things about. But when he was, if not disgruntled, at the least Far Gone from Perfect Gruntlement, things tended rather to explode on their own, and sudden cold spots to appear and winds from nowhere to howl: all the usual haunting things. As now; and that Harry was Not Best Pleased just now was likewise audible, over Draco’s dry, hacking attempts at talking him down: the sounds of Harry’s swearing, at once fruity and fulminatingly sulphurous, like port with brimstone in it, were perfectly clear.
‘The bad news, then.’ Ron smiled, wryly. ‘He’s being advanced to a marquessate. I know better than to consult you, any more than His Nibs in there; Hermione, your gran, Albus, Lily, and I talked it over with Sluggers, and it’ll be the marquessate of Evelake in the creation.’
‘Ah. So the good news is, my blasted courtesy title will no longer sound the same as his title, orthography be damned.’
‘Hmm. So it won’t,’ said Ron. ‘You’ll be earl Avelyn by courtesy now, not viscount Aveline.’
‘Honestly,’ said Hermione, in a fond exasperation that was compounded mostly of the latter with barely a hint of the former, which was present only in the sense that vermouth is hinted at in a really properly dry martini. It was how she dealt with the dread of her husband’s taking on Harry’s duties. ‘The good news is perfectly obvious. It cannot have escaped even your notice, James, that when your father figures in another Honours List, it means that we’ve won again.’ She resolutely refused to remember what winning required.
Now Jamie and Ron were both looking at her, Jamie with a flatly insolent look of what-are-you-on-about-Auntie and Ron, the next CMGS, with a quite unnecessary air of loving indulgence.
‘Well, of course we won,’ said Major the earl Avelyn, 1st Bn, the Scots Aurors.
And it was Hermione’s turn to fall silent as the echoes resounded. Every battle save the last … England expects … there must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory … conquer we must; conquer we shall … our country will, I believe, sooner forgive an officer for attacking an enemy than for letting it alone … be ye men of valour … no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy ... arise, and take our stand for freedom, as in the olden time … hard pounding, this, gentlemen; let us see who shall pound the longest … the path of duty is the way to glory ... if necessary for years, if necessary alone …it all depends upon that article – give me enough of these men and I am sure …some chicken; some neck … be the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parlay; we may show mercy – we shall ask for none … there is no one depressed in this house; we are not interested in the possibilities of defeat: they do not exist.
Ron’s hand was on his nephew’s shoulder as he smiled tenderly upon his wife. ‘He’s an Auror, love. Just that.’
And all are bred to do your will
By land and sea—wherever flies
The Flag, to fight and follow still,
And work your Empire’s destinies.
Once more we greet you, though unseen
Our greeting be, and coming slow.
Trust us, if need arise, O Queen,
We shall not tarry with the blow!

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6 comments or Leave a comment
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 17th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)


"...success had allowed Kingsley to take upon Harry his own, exquisite revenge for years of unnecessary Ministerial toil whilst Harry played Auror."

You know we'll be waiting for stories of Harry as MoM.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 17th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

The thought had occurred to me....
From: tree_and_leaf Date: October 19th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Splendid! And I particularly enjoyed the port-and-brimstone swearing, and Hermione's martini-like fond exasperation.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 19th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well we know where YR mind is just now.

Drink, luv?

And thanks.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: October 19th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well we know where YR mind is just now.

Students, eh?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 19th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Have some madeira, m'dear.

6 comments or Leave a comment