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More Post-War Gen: Aberforth - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
More Post-War Gen: Aberforth

Thrice-Gorgeous Ceremony: A Hoose on the Merkat Square

Funny old town, Hogsmeade.

Funny old world, Wizard-dom.

Not least the old world that existed before the War, Aberforth thought.  The Ministry had so deteriorated, then, that a man in those days could be prosecuted for using a goat as a test subject for new spells, whilst those who practised Dark curses on Muggles were fawned upon.  Well, Albus and Harry and young Harry’s friends had put paid to that, at least.

The 4,399 cast ewes and rams saw all the usual buyers forward with trade slightly sharper. Top of £60.50 for heavy Texel ewes from Hoggbanks, others to £54.50 Albuskenneth; Suffolk £56.50 Raven Cleugh; Suffolk cross £54.50 Albuskenneth and Stackmeades….

He missed Albus dreadfully, of course, for all his faults; Albus, and Amelia, poor old girl, and so many others.  Certainly they had willingly sacrificed themselves for this braw new world, but it was sad indeed that they’d not lived to see it.  If nothing else, they’d have laughed themselves silly to have seen the look on the faces of the old Fudge-Scrimgeour-Buggins’s-Turn crowd – such folk as that prize ass Gawain Whossiname – when, after the War, the unspeakable old Dung Fletcher had been revealed as an Unspeakable so senior that successive Ministers for Magic had not been cleared to know of his role … or when they’d gaped as the disreputable barman of the Hog’s Head was unmasked as the chief intelligencer for the Order.

Albus would have had a good laugh over that, would have been, in the local vernacular, ‘hert gled’ at the ‘lichtsome’ jape.  Albus had been a great laugher, when in his innermost circle, far more openly mirthful than his dignity permitted outwith it – for all that he’d indulged, twinkling madly, in the licensed eccentricities of a dominie.  It had been typical of Albus to have made a standing joke of that business with the goat, and to have said of his Ravenclaw brother that he ‘wasn’t sure Aberforth could read, actually’ – old goat himself.

Rams to £52.50 for a Texel from Hoggbanks; Suffolk £49.50 McGonagall; Leicester £44.50 Hoggside and Elfburn; Cheviot £34.50 Tonks; Blackface £26.50 Lupinscleugh; Swaledale £23.50 Stackmeades.

But, then, Albus had been one of those Gryffindors who had a fair smattering of the traits of all the Houses, which is why he’d become Headmaster of Hogwarts: you could almost talent-spot the future rectors of the auld scuil, really.  Harry; young Neville, bless his little cotton socks; the Malfoy lad – all Black, really, that one, and surnames be damned; Ron Weasley’s bittock wifie (and there was a family that was steps and stairs, the Weasleys), canny hen that the wee quean was – if a wee bit of a targe.  Aberforth chuckled.  Had Hermione but realised, his pretence of being a coarse, Victorian old tyrant who playfully feigned to regard her as a mere adjunct to her husband, was a tribute to her: it always provoked a pointless argument, always resolved in the same way by the irenic phrase, a surer spell than any magic, ‘My round’: for just such pointless and unmeaning jocular rows, pacified by a pint, were precisely how men interact down the pub.  Hermione wished to be treated on an equal foot with the lads, did she?  Then she would be, would the lass but realise it.  Clever, the quean was, but not always astute to these small things, for all that she’d mair degrees than a thermometer. 

Still and all, though, she was as certain sure to follow in Albus’s footsteps as any now living, and for the same reason: she, like Harry and Draco and Nev and a curn of fowk mair, had Albus’s quality, and Minerva’s, of being an amalgam of the qualities of more Houses than they one they’d sorted into.

Ah, Minerva.  Funny old place, Hogsmeade.  Sassenach-founded, and a defiantly English town set incongruously in the Highlands, a sort of left-handed Brigadoon, and yet it had inevitably, in the long years, become Scots as much as English.  As had he, Englishman – West Countryman – by birth though he was.  Hogsmeade was in spirit something like Minerva herself, double-natured, even as the canny auld quine hersel’ was double-tongued, speaking the English claik up the school – but nae primsie, dichty-watter English, he’d grant her that – and braid Scots amang the fowk o’ the toun.  It wad be gey easy to get the smit for the lass, she was a stoater yet, and they were neither of them sae auld, after all….

Charolais £575 Cornfoot, £550 Malfoy Hall, £545 Hagrid End, £510 Long Bottom and Hogwarts, £480 Cornfoot, £470 Hagrid End and
Hogwarts Castle.

Limousin £570 Tonks Farm, £565 Veela Hill, £550 Wandwood Hill, £545 Veela Hill, £540 Malfoy Hall, £535 Pottersfield and Tonks Farm, £520 Wandwood Hill, Tonks Farm and Hogwarts, £505 Malfoy Hall, £500 Pottersfield and Malfoy Hall.

Saler £550 Hogg Side….

Aberforth chuckled, again, to himself – and chuckled again at the thought that, had anyone seen him at it, they’d have thought him fair daft, grinning to himself, and dafter still had they known he was thinking of winching Minerva McGonagall.  They’d hold him for a loon, in the English rather than the Scots meaning.

Funny old world, really, the English and the Scots at one another’s throats for aye, Muggles and Magical folk sundered and suspicious, everyone finding a way and a reason to look askance at one another for meaningless differences.  He’d knocked around a fair bit, had Aberforth, in his years: been a scholar and a barman, a sporting publican and a dominie and a don, a tramp and a gentleman, an Englishman amongst the Scots and able to pass for either, an intelligencer and Severus Snape’s case-officer, a herdsman and a laird.

Belgian Blue £545 Nether Creevey, £450 Tonks Farm, £410 Low Burrow, £390 Old Auror House.

Simmental £500 Hogg Side.

Aberdeen Angus £490, £425 Pottersfield.

Galloway £410 Thomas’s Hill.

Shorthorn £315 Atrum Old Place….

Funny old place, Hogsmeade.  Particularly now, in the peacetime, with the War done and dusted and a new political settlement in place, it was more and more an amalgam of Scots and English traditions, although the Hogsmeade the students knew was but the surface of it.  They saw the tearooms and the public houses and the inns, the stationers and the sweetie-shops, and that was all.  It occurred not to one in a hundred of them that there was a whole, thriving village behind the fronts of the high street shops: but, stay, ‘village’, did he say?  No longer, indeed never that: long a burgh of regality, since its first founding, it was now since the War a royal burgh, with all that that implied.  An honourable estate, and proudly testified to by the market cross, the Merkat Cross in good Scots, standing minatory in the midst of Hogsmeade High Street, there in the very toun-heid, the names of the fallen of the late War incised deep in its plinth, so that a thousand years after, Wizard-dom would yet mind that finest hour.

No, the students, most of them, never knew or stopped to think that a burgh maun hae its props and supports, and nae toun in the world might lang bide wi’ oot a flesher and a sutor, a baxter, a wabster, a shewster, and a jyner.  Someone maun provide the meat and the boots, the bread, the clouts, the clothes, and the work in wood from cabinet-making to the framing a bit house to live in.  At least, as a Wizarding burgh, Hogsmeade could dispense with the need for a scaffer’s yaird, what the English of Aberforth’s Somerset childhood called a rubbish dump.  It was as well, perhaps, that the students never thought as much on it: there were Muggle-borns in plenty and a few mildly subversive ‘purebloods’ – though none from the Great Houses: the Blacks, for example, had thought only of blood, and had not blinked an eye at having a mere shop-keeping Burke in the family – who would look down upon the people whose hands and sweat made the world turn on her axis and kept all things going on.  Time and experience would larn ’em in due course, now that peace was in the land: a few years of real and earnest life would suffice to teach them yet that a man’s a man for a’ that, and that we are all in the end alike Jock Tamson’s bairns.

Even so, he was glad that the War was behind them all, and all pretence cast off, and prosperity come upon the land with the peace.  He need no longer pretend to be the sullen and shabby barman of a down-at-heel pub at the fit of the toun, and the toun herself was weel-foggit the noo, prosperous and trim.  And why for would it not be?  A royal burgh, now, rewarded for its long leal-being, its loyalty, to the Light, and the administrative capital of Wizarding Scotland; it was the seat, now, of the Wizarding Fiscal and Sheriff, and had its Bailie – wee Flitwick, of all Wizards in the world, and fine he kenned his duty and well performed it, and never a keelie or picky-fingered local limmer to take up space in the Tolbooth under the new burgh hall.  The Wizarding department of Jenners had opened a shop now square in the toun-heid, and the burgh was sleek and prosperous.  And it was Muckle Friday the day, the day of the Muckle Fair, the twice-yearly hiring market – what in his English youth they’d called a ‘Mop Fair’ – for the louns and the pleuchies and the plummy, Morningside-tongued shop assistants who served the fermers and shearers and the shopkeepers. It couldn’t all be done by House-Elves, after all; and in the Wizarding world, even the small wares, the cauldrons and the cups, the teapots and the tailoring, were functions of the use of magic, imbued with magic: there was no shame or indignity in making and selling, no taint in the Wizarding world to ‘being in trade’, and rightly not.

Greyface ewe hoggs with singles - £66, £56 Shacklebolt, £56 (x3) Bulstrode.

Texel cross hoggs with singles - £35, £34.50 Nott.

Suffolk cross hoggs with singles - £42, £34 Creevey Grange.

Texel cross shearlings with singles - £30 Bell’s.

Texel cross shearlings with twins - £28.50 Hogsmeade Downside.

Greyface shearlings with twins - £34, £33 Evanshead.

He had not far to go to the Fair, although he had no need of hirings.  His presence would be for other reasons, the consequence of his post-War choices.  Which he did not repine: he’d been a scholar once, that was sure enough, and many other things syne, but the height of his ambition now, in this time of peace, was realised and embodied in this, merely commercial distinction though it might have seemed to Muggles: this was his visible achievement, palpable, the honoured position and the grand house on the market square, sign visible that he was a burgess, one of the hie heid yins, a man of mark – and more.

A large show of ewes attracted buyers from as far as Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, and Wales, all good quality proved very good to sell.

Lowland sheep sold to £71 for Texel cross gimmers from Pottersfield, others to £65 Glenblackholm; Greyface £70 Creeveys Mains, £65 Buckbeak; Suffolk £54 Nott House; Cheviot Mule £48 Turpin; Lleyn £46.50 Wandknowe. Ewes to £68 for 1 crop Texels from Pottersfield, 2 crop to £56 Brockshead, 4 crop £44 Stackmeades; Greyface £48 Hogg Side (Baxter), £44 Englishtown; Cheviot Mule £41 Stackmeades. Ewe lambs to £50.50 for Greyfaces from Wandlands, others to £48 Green Farm, £45 Raven Cleugh; Lleyn cross £36 Lovegood Hill.

Cheviot ewes were a good show with the majority sold to Welsh buyers. Top of £54 for North Country gimmers from Newhill, with correct North Cheviot ewes to £40 Plas Rhaedr. Hill ewes to £35 Sprouthope, others to £34 Tonkslade and £30 Lupinshope; gimmers to £43 Pottersfield; ewe lambs £30 Easter Macmillan, £29.50 Malfoy Haugh.

Time was when an ox-team, even of twenty owsen or mair, could not have dragged him to such a scene, with the hail clamjamfrie of the burgh milling about.  But he’d made his choices, now that the War was ahint them, and that had been the point of it all: a world of choices, no longer dominated by some titanic struggle between an aspirant Dark Lord and an implacable, if virtuous, curn of fighters for the Licht.  A world in which the feck of fowk were free to make their own ways in it, and not condemned to choose sides in some great war.  It was a free world of free choices now, and it was that that they’d fought for: a world of open possibility, and every man able to mak’ kirk or mill o’ it.  Knickety-knack, which haund will ye tak’?

It had been worth the fight.  And they couldn’t hold the Muckle Fair without him, he having made his own choice, and happy enough with it, so he might as well keep a ca’m sough, and not let himself be awa’ in a dwalm, day-dreaming and making the fowk of the toun wait.

No more the ragged clouts of the Hog’s Head’s barman, clothes that he might have stolen from a particularly disreputable bogle – what the English call a scarecrow.  Not today; not for him, at the Muckle Friday fair.  Funny old world, it was.

Goats (Golden Guernseys, Wizarding-Organic certified, from Pottersfield estate, Somerset, and Malfoy Manor, Wilts, herds) were the subject of a private sale, the details of which have not been published.

He donned his best robes, and smiled sadly at the image in the looking-glass as he bowed his head for his chain of office: he looked more like Albus these days than ever, and it was bittersweet.  But there: there was work to be done.  He strode towards the door.

Aberforth Dumbledore, OM, MW, the Right Honourable the Lord Provost of the Royal Burgh of Hogsmeade, ex officio Lord-Lieutenant, Ulnager-Royal of Hogsmeade, past Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Victuallers, thrice Master of the Worshipful Company of Vintagers, Maltsters, and Stillers, Master of the Worshipful Company of Hostellers, Upper Warden of the Worshipful Company of Apiarists, Renter Warden of the Worshipful Company of Grammar-Clerks, Middle Warden of the Worshipful Company of Aurors, Bailiffs, and Manciples, Clerk-Warden to and Liveryman of the Most Worshipful Company of Scribes, past Master of the Worshipful Company of Pottlers, Freeman of the Worshipful and Worthy Company of Pepperers, past Master of the Worshipful Company of Malenders and Husbandmen, Master-Elect of the Worshipful Company of Merchaunts Venturers, strode forth from his cherished and elegant House on the Merkat Square, not as to war, but to take up the duties of peacetime.

Let the fair begin.

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10 comments or Leave a comment
tiferet From: tiferet Date: May 14th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like it quite well, but could use a glossary :)
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: May 15th, 2006 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Seconded. Not that I minded whilst I was reading it; the important thing is to let the words wash over you, like music, as a wise woman once told the smartest little girl she knew.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: May 15th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
"... let the words wash over you, like music..."

Oh, exactly! My full-length Beowulf and my total immersion headset, those comforting false cognates left behind in the rubble!

Except I think I do need to have "steps and stairs" explained to me...
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: May 15th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditto, ditto. Well, Wemyss love? ^^
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 15th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

All right, you two. Keep a ca'm sough.

If you snapped a photograph of the Weasleys with all the brood present, lined up in age order ... steps and stairs. Well, that wd have been so before Ron shot up to tower over several of his elder brothers, but you take the point. It refers to a family with a regular spacing (temporally) of a good few children.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 15th, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. Well. Um.

Sorry about that, I did try to translate-by-repeating-it-in-Scots-and-English-on-the-fly. Evidently, I failed (note that the two comments as of this posting that don't want a glossary are from persons of Scots and of Northern Ireland background).

Anything in particular that wants the most explanation?
From: tree_and_leaf Date: May 15th, 2006 08:26 am (UTC) (Link)

The muckle toun o Hogsmeade


(the wizarding department of Jenners Squee! - though I fear Jenners is not what it was, since those idiots at House of Fraser got hold of it. I had lunch in there over Easter, and there was a man on the tannoy making announcements about a special offer every three minutes. And I couldn't find a decent pair of leather gloves (as opposed to ones that looked like vinyl, even when they allegedly weren't)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 15th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Aye, hen, aye.

The Harrods-o-th'-North has, I know, suffered since the sale, but your squee suggests that the connotation, wh I aimed for, bides yet.

Of course, as a good Conservative, my own attitude is that nothing is what it was - and may never have been.

Thanks, love.
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: May 15th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wemyss, this is as lovely a piece as you've ever written; very effective and very moving. Bittersweet, as Aberforth thinks.

A Special Mention for the use of 'dwalm' and the livestock reports.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 15th, 2006 09:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, thank you.

The livestock reports were yr inspiration, you know.

I'm so glad it came across for you, and grateful for yr praise.
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