Chapter 8 : Diversions
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This chapter has not been beta'd, my apologies in advance if I have missed any glaring errors.
Late 20th century.
The next day was one of business for the occupants of Grimmauld Place, Dudley spent the day with George at the Diagon Alley shop and the warehouse at Hogsmead, getting to know the businesses routines and stock. He helped organise matters at the warehouse, where the last few members of staff were appointed. He sat on the interview panels with George and Ron, then they spent time familiarising him with the village. He and Ron hit it off straight away, Ron would continue to manage the shop while Dudley ran the Warehouse and deliveries, they all visited Eeylops breeding centre where they picked out a peck of forty Owls for the mail order service, all flew to Hogsmead as soon as they had paid for them ready for the grand opening of the service in a few days time. All in all both Weasley's and Dudley were pleased to be working together and were looking forward to the opening. The flat above the shop that Dudley would be living in was ready for him to move into, he and Maria spent the evenings preparing it, returning to Grimmauld Place to eat and sleep.
Petunia spent her time working on the lesson plans and reading Ginny's Hogwarts a History, she was still a bit emotionally fragile after her breakdown of the day before. After many years living with a man who had not allowed her, her own choices in life and living her life to his expectations she was not used to being forgiven without having to adjust to live up to stricter values. Certainly Vernon had enforced his ideals of normality by forgiving reluctantly, she had become so used to it she couldn't remember that last time she had contradicted him until she left with Dudley a few short days ago. Life in this house, Harry's house, was so different. His acceptance of her, his Family's acceptance of her, even those who weren't strictly family like Minerva, Kingsley and Andromeda had unconditionally welcomed her as a part, was not something she had experienced since childhood. Andromeda with Teddy took her to Flourish and Blotts to see what books they had available for her to use in class then Petunia took them to a Muggle bookshop to pick out some Muggle fiction books about witch craft so the students could compare them with wizarding fiction about Muggles The two women had a fantastic time, and Teddy was just so adorable, he had changed his hair to match hers when she had picked him up while Andromeda dealt with their purchases in the magical shop. She had nearly broken down in tears at this sign of simple acceptance from the child, it was at that moment she realised her old life was really over, not just finished, but over. She had a future in a world still recovering from war, a future she was determined would be better than her past, where she could be herself to explore it. This was her new beginning, one she was not going to waste in petty ideas of what was normal. It was at that moment she began to remember her childhood nature, a nature which could also forgive, not lightly, but easily where needed. She saw that after a long absence, she had a true family, just like she had, had as a child.
Harry and Ginny's morning was spent with Bill, who had agreed, with Gringotts permission, to go through all the legal papers and sort them out. In the afternoon Molly arrived with the Twins for their flying lesson Percy and Audrey arrived during the Afternoon and watched. They all came downstairs in time for Dudley and Maria's return, the twins immediately greeting them and Teddy, Petunia and Andromeda were showing Molly the books they had managed to find.
“Well you two, How about a ride in my car, just around the square?” Dudley offered.
“Oh Yes please..” Delilah Exclaimed.
“May we Please Molly?” Begged Tarquin.
“I guess we have time.” She smiled. “Are you sure Dudley?”
“Of course. Besides I did promise them a ride sometime.” He smiled. “We won't be long. You coming Harry?”
“Why don't you take Maria, Kreacher will operate the workshop doors for you.” Harry Grinned.
“Oh yes, I've never been in a Muggle car.” Maria said excitedly.
The four went down to the workshop for their short trip and were back after only a few minutes. The twins very excited, not just by the short ride either.
“That was brilliant... “Tarquin started.
“... Your Workshop is so cool Harry...” Delilah burst out
“...So is Dud's car, thanks Dud...” Tarquin added.
“.. You are so Lucky Maria, having a boy friend with his own Car.” Delilah said seriously.
Maria laughed. “ I know Delilah.” She turned to hug Dudley. “Now I have ridden in your Car, I really am going to have to take you flying.” she kissed him and the twins pulled faces.
“I'll remind you two of that when you start kissing people like that.” Audrey laughed.
“Oh there's no rush for them to start doing that.” Molly said only half seriously. “ Though from the look on their faces we won't have to worry about it any time soon anyway. Come on you two we had better get home, Arthur will be home soon.”
Bill came into the room just after Molly and the twins left. “Well I'm done for today, I'll be back tomorrow, I will have more company figures by then Harry and I can start looking at them in more detail see what's going on with them.”
“That's fine Bill, will it take long to sort out?”
“Well the Wizarding ones are easy, we have the company records at Gringotts, I can check them at the same time as the papers in your vaults. It's the Muggle investments that will take time. It might take weeks to sort them out, I will need to have access to the papers about them while you are at Hogwarts. But we'll talk about that tomorrow.”
“Fine, we'll sort it out Bill, Thanks.” Harry was grateful to his brother-in-law.
“No worries Harry. Well I had better be off, Fleur will wonder where I have got to if I'm not home soon.” He waved as he stepped in to the Floo and left for Shell cottage.
Percy and Audrey stayed for Dinner and left with Andromeda and Teddy, leaving the two couples and Petunia to relax.
The day of the Quidditch match arrived, Harry and Ginny took Petunia to the Burrow to collect the twins, they had Flooed to the house, but were to apparate to the stadium. Andromeda and Teddy were coming too, she would get Petunia there, while Harry and Ginny took the twins. Dudley had left with Maria the day before to stay at her parents house as arranged and would be returning on Monday morning. Maria had spent the previous couple of nights at Grimmauld Place, in one of the rooms on Harry and Ginny's landing. Petunia had formally accepted the teaching post at Hogwarts when Kingsley and Minerva had visited, Minerva had been delighted and went through the teaching plan with Petunia as the two women discussed arrangements. Poppy had brought the potion for Dudley who would start taking it on his return to Grimmauld Place so he wasn't having to remember it whilst at Maria's. Bill had continued the work on the papers, they now had a complete statement of what was held in the Potters name at Gringotts and Bill had made a list of their other investments in the magical world, he was beginning to collate current performance reports on them all whilst still tracing the Muggle holdings. In the case of Grunnings, which the couple owned outright he was investigating the company to see if anything was amiss, he had already discovered that although Dursley had insisted otherwise to his family, the company and therefore Harry owned the house on Privet drive, in fact he owned several and the land on which the estate had been built. This news was as much a surprise to Petunia as the couple, she had always believed the house was her husbands, she had felt even worse about how they had treated Harry in what had turned out to be his house. He had reassured her, then asked her to help plan what to do with it, Vernon had lived there rent free with his family, both grinned as Harry ordered that from now on a full market rent would be charged from now on, knowing he would be furious. But, the most fun was had on the now daily Quidditch training of the twins who were fast becoming more and more confident on their new brooms.
The twins visited Eli and Maggie every morning since they had moved into the Burrow, but after the first day, the news they brought back with them was not good. Eli was getting worse and Maggie had become ill on the Friday. They insisted the twins should go to the Quidditch match even though it would mean a day not seeing them. The twins had been torn, but today when Harry and Ginny arrived at the Burrow they were excited about the game.
“Harry, Ginny is it time yet?” the twins shouted as they stepped out of the fire.
“Not long” smiled Harry.
“I think I'm getting used to that” said Petunia indicating the fire “I'm not as giddy as last time. Hello Molly”
“Hello Petunia, welcome back to the Burrow. You seem to be getting used to Floo travel.” Molly greeted and hugged her.
“I think so and it is kind of you to say we can stay to night.”
“Not at all besides the Granger's are back tonight, they are here for the day tomorrow too.”
“Oh, Hermione's parents, they are Muggles too aren't they, it will be good to talk to them about settling in this world.” Petunia observed.
“I thought it might be” Molly said.”Though they live in the village which is mostly Muggle, whilst you will be in a wizarding community at Hogwarts.”
Andromeda and Teddy were next in line for Molly's hug, Teddy smiling as the twins came over to greet them, but still reaching for Ginny as she approached.
Soon they went out into the yard to apparate to the stadium the twins excitement growing as they held on to Harry and Ginny ready to go.
They arrived outside the teams entrance at the back of the stadium, where Dudley and Maria were waiting for them. They all greeted each other, then made their way to the ticket barrier. Ginny showed the attendant the tickets, he looked at them then at Harry and Ginny, slow recognition dawned on the attendants face. Harry groaned he had hoped this could be a quiet outing, he hoped the attendant wouldn't start making a fuss.
“Ah Mr. And Mrs. Potter and party could you make your way to the second door, you will be met there.” The attendant said quietly.
Harry and Ginny looked puzzled, but led the way to the door where an official was waiting to greet them.
“Ah, I am glad our attendant recognised you. I am Filius Featherstone the owner of the team, when I was told you were coming as the guests of the Harpies I insisted you should have a private box to watch the match, if you would follow me please.” He said shaking Harry's hand.
Mr. Featherstone turned and led them through a door just behind him, marked Directors lounge. He guided them up a few flights of carpeted stairs, and into a luxurious room. It was well furnished with comfortable chairs and sofa's, the walls adorned with moving pictures of their star players. A large wooden board bore the names of the team captains whilst next to it another listed the teams achievements. There was a well appointed bar at one end of the room, two uniformed stewards stood behind it waiting to serve drinks. A glass wall down one side divided the room from a wide covered balcony with a long row of seats over looking the pitch.
“The Directors are in the next door box for this game Mr. Potter, we agreed this would offer you more privacy than being in the stands with everyone else. You may make use of the facilities as you wish, I understand the Minister is also attending with his partner, I hope you don't mind but, they will be joining you in this box.”
“No, that's fine Kingsley is a good friend as is his partner. I must say Mr. Featherstone this is very generous of you and your directors, we weren't expecting this at all.” Harry said.
“That's quite all right, I wonder if you and your party would mind signing our VIP book for our records.” Mr. Featherstone indicated a book and quill on the table beneath the portraits.“There are also complimentary programs and Omnioculars for you all on the seats outside as souvenirs, both teams have singed the programs for you all.”
They all signed the book and were just getting drinks when Kingsley and Minerva arrived.
“Hi everyone,” called Kingsley.
The twins were suddenly quite shy when they saw Professor McGonagall, Minerva smiled. “Don't worry twins, I'm here to see the game. Besides we have a fresh start don't we?”
“Yes Professor” they replied a little reassured.
They moved to the balcony with their drinks and sat ready for the game which was due to start in a few minutes. The stadium was smaller than the one used for the world cup, but was packed the noise was incredible and atmosphere alive with excitement. They were sat high up above the pitch, for higher than the few flights of stairs would have indicated, the stadium must be partly in a large hole in the ground so they were about the same height as the goal hoops, halfway along the pitch with an excellent view. The noise from the crowd was incredible as they waited for the game to start.
Harry showed the twins how the Omnioculars worked and they started scanning the crowd. He saw Maria doing the same for Dudley, while Minerva showed Petunia. After a few minutes a voice sounded over the crowd, Harry recognised it as Lee Jordan.
“Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this afternoons match between Puddlemere United and the Holy Head Harpies, a game sponsored by Bertie Botts every flavour beans. I am Lee Jordan your commentator both here in the ground and live across the country for the Wireless Wizarding Network. In attendance today we are pleased to welcome Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Minerva McGonagall and we are delighted to welcome Harry and Ginny Potter with their guests.”
A great cheer rose from the crowd as the giant screen showed a picture of them all in the directors box.
“Now Ladies and Gentlemen introducing your referee for this game Fizel Frederckson, with his two assistants, Bernadette Bones and guest assistant Victor Krum, who is currently on tour with the Romanian international team.” Lee Announced then paused for effect as a hush of expectation fell around the arena and all eyes turned towards the entrance tunnel. “And now Ladies and Gentlemen, The teams, first the home team, Puddlemere United.”
A broad streak of blue and gold flew across the pitch then circled the stadium, once as the Puddlemere fans went wild. Lee announced the name of the players as they took there positions while the cheer leaders spelt out the team name above then settled at the side of the pitch.
“Now please welcome, again led by their cheerleaders, The Holy Head Harpies.”
Green streaks came in from all directions around the stadium to meet in the centre of the pitch then explode again to the stands and form a circling procession around the pitch. It was the Harpies fans turn to erupt into riotous cheers as their team took their places and the cheerleaders spelt out Harpies above them went to the side of the pitch whilst Lee announced the names of the players. The noise died down as the captains shook hands then took their starting positions. The referee glanced to his two assistants then kicked the box to release the Bludgers and snitch. After a moment he threw the Quaffle and jumped on his broom, the box disappeared.
The noise rose again as a Puddlemere chaser caught the Quaffle and set off up the pitch the other chasers staying with him, the ball quickly being passed between them to avoid Bludgers and chasers from the Harpies as they rocketed up the pitch. A Harpies' chaser intercepted a pass and play returned in the other direction.
“Blimey Harry, this is fast” said Dudley in amazement.
The players were little more than a blur as the Quaffle was passed from player to player and beaters intercepted Bludgers which changed direction almost too fast to follow. The two seekers circled high above the game watching for the snitch as the score see sawed between the two teams, neither at first gaining an advantage. Ten minutes into the game the Harpies' seeker suddenly changed direction and dove for the ground, the Puddlemere seeker quickly following.
“There go the seekers, looks like a race to the snitch already. “ Le shouted.
The two seekers sped down, the Harpies' player just inches ahead of her rival, they were closing quickly to the ground, suddenly the Harpies' player pulled up again, just before she hit the ground. The other seeker to slow to react ploughed into the turf of the pitch with a thud and rolled several times across the grass, his broom embedded in the earth where he had hit the pitch. The crowd was silent, the seeker unmoving as the Puddlemere captain called for a time out. The trainer shot out to treat the player, but the Harpies gathered to talk tactic's while the Puddlemere players gathered round the injured chaser.
“That was an incredible feint by the Harpies' seeker who had been closely tailed by her Puddlemere counterpart since the start of the game. For the third game running he fell for that trick rather than looking for the snitch himself, lets hope he is all right.” Lee announced, his commentary had hardly been audible over the roar of the crowd for much of the game.
“What happens if the can't continue.” Dudley asked.
“They can make a substitution if it's too bad, but I have seen players just carry on after a fall like that.” Harry replied.
The twins were on the edge of there seats.
“This is fantastic” Tarquin said. “I would love to play as well as that.”
“Well keep practising and you might.” Said Ginny “Let's see if you make your house team first.”
Delilah was just as excited replaying parts of the game with her Omnioculars occasional making exclamations of delight at what she saw.
Petunia was wide eyed. “I'm getting totally lost with it all. Harry did you say you used to play this for your house team at school?”
“He was the youngest seeker in 100 years” Minerva told her proudly. “Joined the team in his first year. Ginny played too, both of them very talented players.”
“What about injuries, it looks east to get hurt.” Petunia was wide eyed.
“Oh, I had my fair share.” Harry said with a smile, ruefully running his hand through his hair.
“Come on mum,” Dudley added. “I play Rugby and was school Boxing champion, both of those can cause pretty serious injuries too.”
“I guess so.” Said Petunia.
The injured player was stretchered off, the substitute was announced and the game resumed, but the balance of the game had changed. Puddlemere made mistake after mistake, their Keeper only just avoided a Bludger miss hit by their own Beater, the chasers lost the Quaffle easily again and again. The Harpies in contrast continued to work well as a team and were soon a hundred points ahead. Puddlemere's only hope was for their reserve Seeker to catch the snitch it seemed. However as the Harpies gained the Quaffle again it was their Seeker who dived, fast.
“Good God she's shifting”Shouted Dudley
“She's seen the snitch” Delilah screamed with excitement as Puddlemere's Seeker began to race Hollyhead's.
The two Seekers were rocketing to the ground when the Harpies' Seeker suddenly changed direction as the Snitch moved, she was skimming the grass. She had almost reached the stands when suddenly she rose back into the air her arm aloft, the small winged ball in her hand. The Puddlemere Seeker, responded too slowly and ploughed into the stand as the game ended.
Petunia was again horrified at what had happened and watched whilst the healers crowded round the injured Seeker and carried him away on a stretcher a few minutes later. The Harpies' fans were going wild at the victory which had pushed their team to second in the league.
“Petunia don't worry.” Kingsley reassured her “That's the fifth time he's done that this season, a night at St. Mungo's and he'll be fine.”
“But how on earth can you say that, it looked awful.” she was white faced. “He must have broken several bones at least.”
“Aunt, I lost all the bones in one arm in a match once, but was right as rain the next day. We have some marvellous healers like Poppy and Skelegrow potion can heal bones quickly.” Harry assured her. She looked up questioningly, eyes wide.
“I'll tell you the story later.” he smiled.
Mr. Featherstone entered the box. “Well that was an interesting game, if a bit short, did you all enjoy it?”
“It was brilliant” shouted the twins in excitement.
Mr. Featherstone laughed. “Good I am pleased.”
“Is there any news of those poor Seekers?” Asked Petunia.
“The healers are with them now, a few broken bones that's all. Tell you what, if you're not in a rush I'll take you to see them. In fact both teams would like to meet you all, if you don't mind.”
The twins looked at Harry “Please Harry” they pleaded.
Harry laughed “All right you two, I think that will be fine.”
Mr. Featherstone led the way to the dressing rooms where the noise of the Harpies celebrating could be heard. He knocked on their door first. The Harpies' manager opened it enough to peer out to see who was there, recognising the group she smiled and turned back to the room. “Harpies.” she called “ Best behaviour, we have visitors.” She then opened the door fully.
The noise died down as she waved them in and the team lined up, they were introduced to Harry and the others in turn. The twins were wide eyed as they met the players they had been watching zoom around the pitch, they talked excitedly with the players whilst the others talked tactics and league news with the team.
Twenty minutes later as they were leaving, two of the chasers gave the twins their team robes, Dudley and Petunia were given the seekers robes and the third chaser robes, respectively while Teddy received the game snitch in a box, his eyes wide he changed his hair to the team colours raising laughter from the team. The manager took a picture of them all, promising to send copies to them, before they left to visit the Puddlemere team.
The atmosphere in this dressing room was understandably calmer than it had been in the Harpies room, but still the players and trainers were pleased to see the group. Petunia asked about the two seekers and was told they were fine, they went into an area at the back where the two players were being attended to. Petunia was amazed that already the two were almost healed, she was shown the Skelegro potion and assured that they would be fixed up by the next morning. More photo's were taken and gifts were given out from the team.
As they left the room a door further down the corridor opened and a familiar head popped out.
“Harry I heard you were here” Victor smiled.
“Hello Victor, how are you,” Harry said walking over to his friend, who he had beaten in the Triwizard tournament. “Everyone this is Victor Krum Seeker for the current world champions and fellow Triwizard champion.”
Victor shook hands with everyone.
“It's good to see you Harry. I didn't get much chance to talk to you at the wedding. We are touring the country ahead of the next world cup, playing exhibition matches. We need one more match, I was wondering who had replaced Dumbledore at Hogwarts, see if we can arrange to play there?”
“I am Headmistress now Victor, when were you thinking of doing this and against who?”
Well we have thought of playing the England team, but no grounds are available. We leave for our domestic season at the end of September so it ideally would be the weekend before. We would be pleased to offer the house teams the chance to train with us during the week before.”
“What do you think Minerva?” Said Kingsley. “It could be good for the students.”
“Yes. Well Mr. Krum ask your manager to get in touch with me and we shall talk arrangements. I will be pleased to see you back at Hogwarts again Victor, and I am sure our new sports Mistress will be pleased to have your assistance with the first years too.”
Victors looked puzzled until Ginny smiled “Of course I would Victor, it would mean we could teach them all in one session, perhaps at the start of the week.”
“You are teaching too Ginny?” Victor smiled “Two Professors Potter, that will cause more confusion than Peeves with the first years' won't it?.”
“That's what we are hoping.” laughed Minerva.
They chatted with Victor for a few more minutes, then Mr. Featherstone took them on to the pitch. The stadium was almost empty, Victor and the two teams joined them for one last photo.
“Who fancies a quick knock about.” called Mr. Featherstone.
The twins were keen, as players from both teams produced brooms. Victor, Harry and Ginny joined in as did Maria and for fifteen minutes they had an impromptu training session. Both team managers were impressed with Harry and Ginny.
Victor looked at Harry “I knew your reputation as a seeker my friend, but I didn't realise you were that good. If you ever turn professional I hope we play against each other, it would be close between us.”
Harry blushed, “Thanks Victor, but apart from training with the twins, that's only the second time I've been over a pitch since sixth year, I'm not likely to go professional.”
“That's a shame my friend, I hope you change your mind, if you are that good with so little training then you are a natural.” Victor grinned.
The chasers were impressed with the twins.
“How long have you been flying?” One of them asked.
“Well we learnt at school last year, but it wasn't until Harry and Ginny taught us last Monday that we really got the hang of it.” Said Delilah.
“What? Only a week, but you are naturals. You two and Ginny, who we know plays brilliant, make a formidable team of chasers.”
“I'm more of a seeker though like Harry.” Ginny smiled “No, I think the twins are naturals too, they will be a real asset to their house team.”
Soon it was time to go, Mr. Featherstone said it was fine to apparate from the pitch, a crowd of fans were outside waiting to see if they could spot Harry leaving. He temporarily lifted the anti apparition charm, as the group said their goodbyes to everyone then left for the Burrow. It had been a fantastic day.
Molly was waiting in the kitchen when they returned, Kingsley and Minerva had gone directly home, Dudley and Maria had returned to her house for the rest of the weekend. She was looking grim as she welcomed them trying to be excited for the twins as they showed her the gifts and told her about the game. The others knew she had something to tell the two youngsters and it wasn't good, she knelt in front of them.
“I'm glad you have had a good time dears, but I'm afraid we are going to have to go to St. Mungo's. Eli has taken a turn for the worse, I'm sorry to say. We must go and be with Maggie.”
“Yes of course.” Said Tarquin calming down instantly.
“Molly, Eli's Dying isn't he?” Delilah asked, tears appearing in her eyes.
“I'm afraid it looks like it my dear” Molly answered honestly, wiping the tears from the young girls face.” And Maggie is not doing well either. Come on my dears let's go cheer them up yes? Tell them about your day show them what you got. They will be so pleased.”
The three made their way to the fire place, Harry called “You two don't worry we'll be here when you get back.”
“I'll see to the dinner mum” Ginny called.
Molly and the twins Flooed away.
“Oh god. Those two have been through enough.” Said Harry, sagging into a seat.
“Harry don't worry,” said Andromeda. “With you two and Molly they will be fine. It's Maggie I'm worried about, I think if Eli dies she will never get well. They have been together so long I think she will lose the will to live.”
“I know.” He said “And then we need to worry about the twins and what happens with them again, they need to be settled.”
It was almost dark when Molly returned with very tearful twins, Eli had died an hour after they had arrived. He had perked up for the twins, but was obviously very weak. Maggie was in the bed next to him very ill, the healers didn't know why, but they quietly told Molly that they thought Maggie had given up the will to live, so was dying, they couldn't find any other explanation.
The twins ran to Harry and Ginny weeping. The couple cuddled them as the grief of the pair took over. Teddy came over and cuddled the leg of each twin in turn then sat between them.
Andromeda went to Molly and hugged her. “You all right my dear, shall I go tell the Granger's tonight's off?”
“No they will be here in a minute, Arthur should be back with Ron and Hermione soon too.” She said. “I think the twins could use the distraction. The funeral is not going to happen until Maggie is well enough to attend, or passes on herself, it will be at Hogsmead”
Molly, Andromeda and Petunia busied themselves in the kitchen, while Harry, Ginny and Teddy comforted the twins.
The noise of the filth strewn streets quietened as he passed by the stalls in front of each of the narrow houses on the wide road to the Cathedral. Trade ceased as those in the street fell to their knee in the mud and debris rotting on the ground, in deference to the passing of the King. Children, too young to know better, looked on wide eyed at the flying banners and glittering swords of the colourful group on horse back. Any men bearing swords held their arms out in supplication as they knelt, hands well away from the weapon, demonstrating they were no threat. The stench of the City filled the Kings nostrils despite the Nosegay of aromatic herbs wrapped in cloth he wore round his neck, the herbs sweet scent overwhelmed by the less than pleasant fragrances of fish, freshly butchered meat, animals and rotting waste.
The stalls held no interest for him, he had slaves and servants to obtain whatever he or his household needed and desired, even when his brother had ruled his position negated his need to be bothered with day to day trading at such stalls. His son had not entered the streets of the city until the day they had moved into the palace proper. That had been the day of his coronation, when the whole family had been expected to parade through the streets so all the populace could recognise them.
This journey through the streets was thankfully short, and direct, compared to that one five years ago. The Archbishop's palace was behind the large wooden Cathedral at the opposite end of the street from the royal palace. The cathedral was built on the ruins of the old Roman seat of power, the highest point in the city and could be seen above the walls from several miles away. The large rectangular church towered over the city, dominating it, a symbol of power built in a symbolic place signifying the churches dominance of the city, a potent warning to non believers and believers alike. The Archbishop's palace itself was in the much rebuilt and patched ancient barrack rooms behind the Cathedral, their size and preservation second only to the buildings that now formed his own Palace.
On departing from his own palace King Styr had passed through the ancient Roman city wall, now with houses built against it, much of which still stood although much lower than it once had been, as the city overwhelmed it, expanding outside it's protection. Stone was taken to repair still used buildings or pave areas in important new structures, such as the floor of his own courtyard or the cathedral itself. It's usefulness for protecting what had once been a fine, ornate city over when those with the knowledge to maintain it had gone, a new rampart now surrounded the new, much larger city. The kings thoughts were far from the sights his capital offered though, as they drew nearer to their destination he was planning how to handle the meeting he had been summoned to. They passed the Cathedral, it's white painted walls towering above them to the thatch on it's roof, where the Christians of the city gathered every seventh day. Styr hated the place, which crawled with sly, black cloaked clergy in his opinion. A priest came to his palace on the same day each week to conduct the service for his family, he had to keep up appearances and maintain his pretence of loyalty to the church. Sure enough, as they rounded the end of the building into the Cathedral complex where the clergy lived and worked, doing whatever they did during the other six days, the place crawled with priests, who paused to simply gaze as they passed.
They arrived at the Archbishops' palace, to be greeted by one of Gods spokesmen, as usual his clothing looked poor and distressed though the king knew the priests and the church were more wealthy than they displayed.. He shuddered with revulsion as he dismounted, the place had to many clergy for Styr's liking or comfort, he entered the stone and timber building led by the silent priest to Hrothweard's chambers, they entered and the stout balding man looked up from his work on the table..
“ Ah, you have arrived King Styr, please leave your sword with my assistant here you will have no need of it here.” The Archbishop instructed, not rising from his seat.
Styr grudgingly removed his sword, the senior priest's lack of courtesy to the King was another thing that annoyed him. He Handed it to the one who had led them in, the priest held it carefully and left the room. Hrothweard poured two goblets of imported wine and indicated for Styr to sit, placing a golden cup before the King then sitting back in his seat, nursing his own chalice carefully watching the King from behind the table.
The room was sparse, though it did contain signs of luxury, Hrothweard's throne like chair was covered with a thick white fur, the candle sticks and ink pot were silver. The documents he wrote on were expensive paper rather than cheaper parchment, the shelves were full of books, all of which the King knew had been written and decorated by hand by the monks, a bowl of pepper corns was positioned apparently carelessly on the table, the number of corns was impressive, the rare spice being more valuable than gold. The small bowl a blatant show of wealth, was not lost on Styr, though he showed no outward sign of having noticed.
Conversation started with pleasantry's, enquiries of each others families though both men knew very well how the others' wife and children fared, the exchange was essential to maintain the proper protocol before the main subject was introduced.
Preliminaries over, the Archbishop fixed the other man with piercing eyes.“ I have received a message of greetings today from our allies in Wessex and Mercia, your Majesty.” The archbishop stated.
So this was it, his rival for the throne of England required something from him and the church was to arrange it. Styr knew the methods of the cunning Archbishop and his sly church, the message must contain more than just greetings for him not to merely send the news by messenger to the Royal palace. His reply was measured though his appearance gave away nothing, but interested curiosity. “All is well for them I trust?”
“God continues to favour them in most matters my King, he pours his blessings on his faithful followers there. Praise be to our lord.” The Archbishop responded with fervour. “They are also pleased matters have settled, here in the North of course, though they understand our problems with the Scots.”
Most matters? That confirmed it in the Kings mind, his rival needed something and expected Northumbria to provide it. The church was to ensure they got it, the barbed comment about the Scots demonstrated the Church thought his efforts for them was inadequate. It was a challenge that they knew he could not let pass without admitting it to be true.“Problems with the Scot's? They have been quiet the last three summers, a few insignificant raids into our far northern territory of no consequence, is all they trouble us now.”
“They will be gratified to hear it, we have no reason to withhold aid from our allies in the south should they need it then?”
Styr realised where this was heading instantly, Hrothweard knew they had no real battle to fight, all was obviously not so well in the south as had been stated. “I would be willing to send what help we can spare, if called upon. So long as we can continue to defend our boundaries effectively. Though to do so would limit the number of swords we can send lord Archbishop, we must ensure the safety of our churches country when required.”
“ But, have you not just told me our border to the north is quiet, the west is ours, we have not been threatened at the coasts for decades and there is no threat from the south. I can see no reason for us to withhold men. The call has come to aid our allies, the Welsh have revolted again and Wessex requires our aid in quashing the threat to our church once and for all. I must insist we send it.”
“Of course Lord Archbishop, we can send perhaps 100 men and a few tacticians to aid, along with weapons and shields. To send more would leave our coast and northern borders a tempting vulnerability to our enemies.”
“No my King, we must send a decisive force, show we will support them in their hour of need. They ask that we raise the Fryd and so we must do.”
“ Impossible, should the Scots decide to attack, or should some Norwegian King decide to go Viking, we shall need the Fryd to prevent the heathen taking our lands for their own. It is late in the season, harvest fast approaches If we call the men, we shall lose the crops. It will take time to gather the men, by the time we arrive there Winter will be with us, we shall have no shelter, lose men to the weather and be unable to return until late spring, too late for the land to be prepared. What you ask will cause us two years of starvation, low trade meaning low taxes to pay for the recovery of our people. Two years of vulnerability, better to have the men gather in the spring, the welsh will not attack again until then anyway.”
“ If we do not send our Fryd now then our church will lose lands to the Welsh, we cannot refuse or delay without losing our allies in the south. We must call the Fryd and you must lead them where the King of Wessex commands. Of course if you cannot raise the Fryd to aid our allies then they are not compelled to aid you should the Scots invade, as unlikely as that is. Of course we must continue to defend our cities, perhaps a garrison of 150 at Dunholm, 100 at Onripum and 200 here whilst you proudly lead our Fryd.” Hrothweard smiled.
The King knew he had little choice if his ambitions were to be fulfilled, his own plans were not yet formed, he was trapped, for now, he needed time, his next words would have to buy him what he needed to plan his next step. “I shall make what arrangements we can, Lord Archbishop.”
“Excellent, I shall begin arrangements for a service to bless your endeavour before you leave as well as clergy who will go with you for the men, and yourself your majesty. My thanks for your attendance here my King.” The Archbishop dismissed him.
Styr was furious, he had been trapped. Again he was expected to send his fittest men to aid the south simply because the church demanded it. This would be the third time he had, had to send men to deal with Wessex's problem in Mercia. The previous two occasions they had simply guarded the boundary, whilst Wessex's own, much larger Fryd, had stayed at home. Both times they had spent weeks watching as traders passed through, there had been no sign of any trouble at all, his men had grown restless and bored whilst his rivals men built their wealth with their families. The Fryd of Northumbria was thousands of men, whereas his rival could call on double that. Add to that the arrogance of the archbishop on these occasions always angered him, but it was the loss of his Fryd, for what was probably no reason again, that angered him the most. It would take at least a week for riders to issue the summons across Northumbria and twice as long, at best, for those in the far north and west to arrive. Every man between the ages of Twelve and Twenty Five would be summoned along with their local lord.. He would need to gather provisions to feed them all, gather wagons and horse to transport those goods. Provide weapons for those without and shields for all of them, many of the wives of those men would also come with their children, to do the cooking and once at the battle field care for the wounded.
All this could not be done until he knew how many would come and would cost him a fortune, the church would not help, they would not even pay to feed the priests they would force on him. So long as the Church swelled it's own coffer's that's all that mattered to the clergy, they certainly would not waste it paying for themselves or the costs of the Fryd. The cost was down to the Royal treasury, including provisions for the non combatants who accompanied it. This would cost him dear, it could even take all his gold, all because that worthless Muggle King and his vast army either wouldn't or couldn't keep the welsh under control. Why had Styr's own spies not told him of any trouble, if it existed?
He had many spies in the south, some even in his rivals council, all were magical and he had their oaths, not just Muggle oaths either. He received regular reports from them every few weeks, none had reported any activity on the borders. Those in his own palace had discovered the Archbishops spies in his court long ago, they were kept under control, only hearing what he wanted them to.
The King had much to consider, but had to act quickly, to be seen to be doing as much as he could to follow the Churches directive. He sent out messengers, very publicly and word quickly spread through the city that he had sent the order to gather the Fryd. He needed to find out what was going on, not only to quietly discover the truth about the south, but also to discover the whereabouts of that school. His only clues had been the mountains he had seen across the lake from the steps, they were already snow capped meaning either Wales or more likely the northern land of the Scot's, if it were on these islands at all.
Erik had been right, Slytheryn had not been pleased with the activation of the Creaftas latest addition of the castle infrastructure, in fact he had been as furious as Gryffindor had been amused. Godric had found the whole thing hilarious, took glee in leaping on to a flight of stairs just as it began to move. The other two founders simply smiled indulgently, shaking their heads indulgently, as students tried to find which flight now took them where they needed to go. The flights did not constantly change their position, but at random moments, quite alarming the first time one moved when you were on it, but many students soon began to enjoy the experience as Gryffindor many gathering on them as they moved. There were so many flights of stairs effected that there always seemed at least one on the move, with a low rumbling sound.
“I can't understand Salazar's problem.” Tigelwotta stated. “ It's not like he uses them often, his lot are down near the dungeons.”
“ Damn, knew there was somewhere we hadn't done much too.” Bleac laughed as they discussed the new prank in Godric's rooms.
Their mentor had known who had been responsible for the prank as soon as it was discovered, who else in the school was tat inventive after all, he wasn't about to let Salazar know it was the Creaftas though, despite his friends rantings.
“ That's all very well and they are an incredible piece of magic, not to mention great fun.” Godric smiled, “ But, how long will the spell last and how do we cope if the stairs are in the wrong place when it does?”
“ Er, Godric the spell is in the stone work, I don't know that it will wear off, just like the ceiling.” Utred confessed
“You are joking! ” Godric exclaimed, knowing they weren't. Then he burst out laughing. “You lot are so bloody talented, it doesn't matter what we teach does it, you lot are still going to expand on it. I'd love to know how you do it, but you never cease to amaze me. Just let me know if you have done anything else to my castle will you.”
“Er, in that case I suppose we ought to tell you about the statues.”Bleac muttered.
“ The statues? ” Godric asked cautiously.
“ Well we animated some of them” Utred admitted.
“ That's not to bad.” Godric smiled “What do they do?”
“ They come to life when you approach, or respond to passwords...”
“ … and can be used to help defend the castle if needed, they sense when the castles in danger.” The Wesele twins grinned.
“That could be useful.” Godric replied and turned away briefly then turned back wide eyed. “Hang on, how would they sense it?”
Tigelwotta looked at his grandfather “ Well remember that lesson on magical sensors in Runes?”
“ Yes.” Gryffindor replied dubiously.
“ Well we expand it Grandfather”
“ How so ?” he asked
“ So the castle could detect an attack or something intent to attack it.” Utred told him.
“ What runes did you use?” Their mentor asked producing parchment and quill.
The Creaftas copied the runic symbols they had added to stones in the castle and showed it to him.
“ You carved these into a stone in the castle?” He asked
“ No, every stone we placed since that lesson.” Blanc admitted.
Godric looked at them “ But that was four years ago, we hadn't even finished all the foundations then.”
“ Yes.” The Creaftas replied.
“ You must have placed hundreds of blocks, probably thousands since then.”
“ Throughout the castle?”
“ Boy's the combination of all those runes repeated around the building means that any of the statues placed in the castle will animate, in fact anything representing people or animals will. Not to mention that it has done much more than make it able to sense danger.”
“ Yes lads, You have made the castle able to absorb magic over time, you've made it self aware. It can effect what goes on in its walls if it so chooses, you have created the largest magical object ever known. Even Merlin never achieved it on this scale, though he did experiment and theorised about the use of the runes on large structures, he never imagined it on anything the size of this Castle, you have created a very powerful magical building boys.”
“Oh, we thought it might do that after the first year of placing the runes, we noticed they seemed to become linked so checked your library and found Merlin's research.” Utred told him mater of factly.
Godric chuckled “ You lot are brilliant, I should give you all jobs teaching, but I am hiding that book, it could be dangerous if anyone without you lots abilities tries it. All right go on, I'll see you in the morning.” He dismissed them, shaking his head, then set off on a walk through the corridors of the castle in the opposite direction to his students.
Utred looked at the others as Godric disappeared round a corner. “Should we have told him about the tunnels do you think?” He laughed.
The others looked at him and joined his laughter as they started to walk towards the entrance of the tower.
As Godric walked away, he decided he really didn't want to know what else his best students had done, if anything and he would be surprised if there wasn't more. He would let matters unravel as they would, after all they added spice to his life. He knew Merlin would approve, he had always encouraged his young apprentice to experiment and explore the possibilities of his magic, not be limited by what he was taught or convention, It was part of the reason this castle was so large, to push the boundaries.
He had reached a third floor corridor when his attention was caught by the Creaftas ladies emerging from a door he couldn't recall seeing before. He groaned then called “Girls, could I speak to you for a moment?”
The girls hadn't noticed him as they emerged, they turned to face him just as the door disappeared, leaving a plain uninterrupted stone wall.
“Do I want to know?” He asked, his eyebrows slightly raised over his twinkling eyes.
“Oh Godric, we built it as a place we could go without being disturbed, it's charmed to appear when needed and become any room we need.” Freya smiled “Just don't tell the boys yet please.”
“You lot are just as creative as your men. I am beginning to wonder how much we founder's actually had to do with this castle. All right I'll keep your secret”he sighed “ I'll see you later.”
The girls smiled and walked off Gryffindor however had a plan and went to round up the founders. That night the four toured the castle making some changes. Changing a few doors to think they were walls, wall to think they were doors, and creating some short cuts within the walls, they were not poor pranksters themselves.
Hogwarts herself, newly self aware, approved of the changes and unknown to the founders or Creaftas, added a few things herself.
Styr had sent out four riders from the city, two headed north, whilst two others headed south. He was going to find out the true situation for himself, it was these last two who would make contact with his spies and sources in the court of his rival. That had been three weeks ago and word had just reached him that two of his riders had just re entered the city. What they told him would guide his attentions, his riders to the north may have appeared to have been sent to begin to gather the Fryd, but they instead awaited word that this would be necessary at Dunholm, where such a call would start. In those weeks he had gathered what news and information he could. He had received a number of ships captains at the palace, they arrived in the city from every nation known, to trade in the city. Receiving the captains was not in itself unusual, they would normally have been brought to the Palace on arrival to pay the tax for trading here and to deliver news from places they visited, before being allowed to trade with the populace. However for the last few weeks he had paid particular attention to any who arrived from the south, those who had traded in or near Wales he questioned in detail, careful not to raise suspicion.
Ship captains were well regarded for the news they gathered as the passed from port to port, they and travelling entertainers were welcomed into lords homes and palaces wherever they went from this very reason. They also heard news from else where from other captains, they knew where trouble brewed when advised not to visit a place, a sure sign the men who bought their supplies had disappeared to fight. It had happened regarding Jorvik, the richest picking of them all for ship captains, when he had usurped his brother, they had wanted news that the city was safe for them to return to.
He had heard no reports of fighting in the south, or more particularly Wales from them, although the Captains knowledge was a few weeks old at best. His spies should be bringing news less than three days old by comparison. So Styr was already even more suspicious that the church may have found reason to doubt his loyalty and the Archbishop was testing him.
He paced back and forth across the throne room, the moment of truth was approaching as fast as his men could cross the city. He knew if aid were truly needed he would have to gather the Fryd, though with harvest time fast approaching this would not be popular and could potentially leave his kingdom not just undefended, but also with a shortage of food. There was also the possibility he would have to send his full-time army out to force the other men to gather. It was impossible to have the men back in time to gather the crops, meaning they would not have any surplus to sell, meaning fewer taxes would be paid as less money was earned, meaning less money to pay on defence next year. If however it was shown that aid was not needed, he would need to be careful, use all his political skills to protect his position. Hrothweard would soon want to know where the Fryd was and why it had not been summoned. He could hardly accuse the Archbishop of lying and expect to remain king, the church could call upon it's own army to oust him. Neither path was appealing and a solution evaded him despite the many hours' consideration he had given it in the last weeks since the meeting.
His riders to the north were not due back until called, if there was trouble with the Scots then the riders would have carried the shields of his loyal Lord of Dunholm and a branch as a sign they came in peace, he knew from the city guards they did not. The signal had indicated these were his own men, so were from the south. He stopped pacing and sat in his throne dismissing his staff at the sound of a knock at the door this would be a private meeting. He sat proudly, expectantly, he must appear totally in control even if his crown was potentially under threat by the news these men would give him.
“ Enter.” He called sharply.
The door swung open and the two men, dirty and dusty from their long ride, walked the length of the room and knelt before him.
“My Lord Majesty we bring the news that you requested.” One of the men stated and withdrew a parchment scroll from his tunic.
He held it out, Styr stood, took one step forward and grasped the scroll, the messenger released it. Stepping back Styr sat imperiously in his throne again, the men would remain until he had read the message and asked any questions. He broke the seal and unrolled the parchment, the moment of truth had arrived.
Firstly my apologies for the wait, again, I have had technical problems with my computer which have taken time to repair and then it has taken a while to recover as many files as I could. I have, unfortunately, lost a lot of my drafts for future chapters, so am having to rewrite them. That and a number of instances of real life getting in the way have delayed this chapter I'm afraid.
As I mentioned at the top of this chapter it is un beta'd so please excuse any errors I have missed, but I wanted to get this up for you all as soon as I could (and I know I suck at writing quiditch matches). I have not heard from my beta since before christmas and hope she is all right, I am getting quite worried to be honest, I have sent a couple of emails but don't want to be a nusance to her.
My thanks to those of you who have stuck with me, I will endeavour to get another chapter up as soon as I possibly can.
Thanks also to those of you who have taken the time to review this story (and those who have recently reviewed essence) I do appreciate your comments and continued support.
Fryd = 10th century Army; The make up of an army of the period surprises many people, we are used to the Hollywood view of armies of all periods being fully equipped with the best protection and weaponry of the time. This of course was not the case, the vast majority of the 10th century army was in fact made up of amateurs called upon to carry out their duty to defend their community. It is reckoned from writings and skeletons of the time that about 3 from every 100 men in an army would be equipped with helmet, sword and chain mail these being the professional soldiers or very wealthy. The rest with whatever they could lay their hands on. All males over 12 years of age would be expected to answer the call, a refusal would mean being hung en route as a warning to any who fled the battle. Shields would be provided, the lord would have many more than needed so they could be displayed on a rampart giving the impression of more men than there actually were. So armed with anything from swords to pitch forks they would march to meet the enemy, joining the men of other Lords on their side. Battle would be done in shield walls, the more experienced behind the novices to prevent fear taking the inexperienced and of course them running away.
York Minster/Cathedral. The current York Minster is the latest of a series of buildings on the site. The earliest known being the Via Principalis of the Roman City (Head quarters). Although not certain it is thought that the first Cathedral was built on this site as were it's successors, it is known that the first one was wooden (Known to have been built by 627 AD when King Edwin was baptised there) though no remains have been identified. Now to the name. Minster (Saxon) is a Church with a mission or teaching remit, or at least had, such was the case at York so we have the name York Minster which is the one it is best known as. However York Minster is also a Cathedral, a main church with a special seat for a bishop or Archbishop (Cathedra) which York Minster also has so it is also correct to call it York Cathedral. However the full legal name of what is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Europe is “The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York.” I think York Minster is simpler though.
Trade with Jorvik: Evidence has been found for trade in the city with goods from all over the known world in the tenth century. Furs from Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland, Pottery from across Europe, soap stone from Shetland, glass beads from Ireland, but most remarkably Pepper corns. The closest Peppercorns could have been imported from is the Middle east, so at the very least people were trading with people who traded with that area. Peppercorns were incredibly valuable, worth more than gold, so to have any on a table in a bowl was a real show of wealth and power. All of these imports were brought in by ships who traded in every port, selling what they brought taking away the Cities products. Often such trades were in goods and yes would have included slaves, who were the men and families from defeated armies or simply those who had no craft or trade to earn money.
Nosegay: A mix of aromatic herbs wrapped in a cloth and worn to mask bad smells.
Just how filthy were the streets?
Although rubbish pits were dug, most rubbish was simply strewn to rot on the ground. All homes had fires burning wood in an open hearth and animals were kept in the back yards. These included pigs and chickens who shared the area with the well and Latrine. So the smell in the city would be powerful and the streets a mud of rotting organic matter.
I promised a 10th century recipe last chapter so here it is let me know if you try it..
All ingredients were locally available or easily obtained. No Pepper (see above)
A Viking stew recipe:
Meat (lamb, beef or Pork) Diced.
Mushrooms. (lots of)
Parsnips (nearest to carrots of the time).
Leaf vegetables like cabbage or spinach.
Fill a pot with water and boil.
Fry meat in Butter (not oil).
Roughly Chop all vegetables and apples.
Add meat, veg apples and herbs to the pot of water.
Add salt to taste. And a teaspoon of honey to sweeten.
Simmer for three hours or until meat is tender. Add water as required during cooking.
The result is a grey unappetising looking stew with a watery gravy. It tastes fantastic though, (Yes I have eaten it and stranger on re enactments. Serve in a bowl with a spoon and knife. A roll of dry bread made without yeast would accompany the stew to soak up the “gravy”. You could substitute fish or shellfish for the meat in which case the apples and Honey would not be added. No potatoes remember, they didn't arrive in the UK until Elizabethan times.
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