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Half a League Onward: A Short Story. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Half a League Onward: A Short Story.

It centred, as most things seem to do in the Wizarding world, not so much upon, as around, the House of Black.


The feud between the Malfoys and the Weasleys has taken on a spurious patina of antiquity; yet, although it is true that the families have long been at odds, it is really to the fag end of June, 1890, that their real and mutual enmity dates.  Some forty years previously, the Blacks’s unfortunate habit of throwing up the occasional Squib had been passed by a Black daughter into a cadet branch of the Weasleys, when it transpired that a young redhead on whom the expectations of both families rested, possessed not the least jot of active magic. 


A generation earlier, a Malfoy-Black marriage had similarly produced a Squib daughter.  Neither the Blacks nor the Malfoys would accept the consequences – or indeed the responsibility – of this perfectly foreseeable result of generations of inbreeding, and they swiftly packed the girl off to fend for herself as a Muggle amongst the Muggles.  With the casual cruelty typical of the Blacks and the sheer viciousness characteristic of the Malfoys, they provided that she would pass under the surname of Clay, that being as close to ‘Mudblood’ as they could contrive.  In all other respects, they simply cast her adrift as a penniless foundling.


The Weasleys, by contrast, did what they could for their own Squib.  With a name highly similar to the one he’d been born with, ‘Jabez Wilson’ went into the Muggle world, yet not without being provided for and not without the certainty that there would those who watch over him.  After a youthful stint in the merchant marine, he was trained up as pawnbroker by the Burkes – another Black family chit being called in – and given the means to open a shop for carrying on that trade at Coburg Square.


No such arrangements had been made for Miss Clay – Philomena Clay, to be precise.  Perhaps it was the rather theatrical tenor of her name to Muggle ears that help set her on her way towards her own fortunes; or perhaps not.  What is indisputable is that, like many a girl before her who had found herself in similar straits, she made her way early to London and embarked upon a career that began by combining the less salubrious elements of coarse theatrical work and common prostitution.  However, she ascended quite rapidly both as an actress and as a practitioner of that ancient profession that has commonly been euphemised with the designation of ‘actress’, and by 1850 or so, about the time that Jacobus Weasley, the future ‘Jabez Wilson’, was born, she had attracted the attentions of several of the numerous racket of useless royal dukes that the Hanoverians seemed so regularly to spawn.  ‘Mrs’ Clay, as she was known in keeping with the traditions of the thespian-courtesan, died rich and well regarded, leaving issue; her son Adolphus Augustus – no one was ever quite sure which of the Hanoverian parasites had fathered him – achieved a firmer respectability to go with the wealth that he inherited, and was able in turn to send his son, John Clay, to Eton (from which he was soon expelled for numerous sorts of beastliness) and, despite the expulsion, to Oxford (Lincoln College, from which he was rapidly sent down for offences ranging from thievery to sodomy).  John managed to incarnate at once the worst traits of the Malfoys, the Blacks, and the House of Hanover, and by the age of 25 had become a ‘career criminal’ notorious equally for his sadism, his cleverness, and his effeminacy.


It may have been happenstance that John Clay pitched upon Jabez Wilson as a means to his last attempted crime, the intended theft of gold bullion from the City and Suburban Bank: a function of Wilson’s shop’s proximity to the bank; it doubtless amused John Clay that in doing so, he was abusing the trust and good name of a Weasley.


He had every reason to believe that he would succeed in his attempt: he had managed to insinuate himself into Jabez Wilson’s employ, and, by a scheme as audacious as it was inspired, had succeeded in ensuring that his unsuspecting employer, whose premises adjoined those of the bank and its vaults, should be removed from the daily operations of the pawnbroker’s shop for some weeks.


That Clay’s plans were foiled was due to one man, of course, but, in a sense, to one woman, as well.  Had not Violet Sherrinford, the half-sister to Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore, chanced to marry a Muggle Yorkshire squire – however unhappy the marriage after became – and borne him two clever but wholly Muggle sons, Mycroft and Sherlock, it is quite likely that the grandson of the Black-Malfoy Squib should have continued his criminal career, and the Squib son of the Weasley-Black intermarriage have been embarrassed by far worse than a mere incautious waste of his time in the offices of the fraudulent ‘Red-Headed League’, of evil memory.


Such are the uses of outbreeding.

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19 comments or Leave a comment
From: kaskait Date: October 10th, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I love it. Especially the red headed league reference. Keep it coming. :D
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


You're too kind.
aillil From: aillil Date: October 10th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant! Sherlock Holmes goodness, ah... *is catching her breath*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

The game's afoot....

Most obliged for yr kind words.
serriadh From: serriadh Date: October 10th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, that is brilliant and such a satisfying conclusion. I'm absurdly pleased by the title and then the Red-Headed League link!

I came across something in a copy of Prospect magazine I was browsing today and thought you might be interested. Have you read Stephen Oppenheimer's "The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story"? His idea seems to be that genetically, very very few of us are (or ever were) Celts. As I said, I was only browsing so didn't study his article (which was based on his book, I think) very closely.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks, yes.

I saw something of the sort, and saw also, if I recall, some contravening reviews and research. Fascinating question, whatever the status of the answer.
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: October 10th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)


Fancy tackling my omniocular prompt? I'll happily bequeath it to you.

MM (currently running short on inspiration)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Your servant, m'dear.

Delighted to have amused.
soonest_mended From: soonest_mended Date: October 10th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
...this made me laugh until I cried.

And at the same time, I can't help but believe it. I love your crossovers.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Why, thank you, dear lady.

Most kind.
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: October 10th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mad cackling goes here. ♥
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wrens cackle?

Thank you, darling.
wren_chan From: wren_chan Date: October 15th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wrens cackle?

This one does. ^^

You're very welcome, love.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: October 11th, 2006 08:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Splendid. I was wondering all the time why 'Jabez Wilson' rang a bell. Cheered me up no end.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

My task is accomplished, then.
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: October 11th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
the Blacks’s unfortunate habit of throwing up the occasional Squib
It’s so important to cook them right through, you know.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Muggles, however...

... May be served tartare.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 11th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Imperious Prima Flashes Forth Her Edict...

...more, if you please!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 15th, 2006 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

But, Madame...

... Perhaps, madame, perhaps. Please, I pray you, do not brandish your cane of bamboo.
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