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Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work. However, all OCs mentioned herein belong to me.

Chapter Sixteen The Gentleman Soldier

And the drums are going a rap a tap tap
And the fifes do loudly play
-Excerpt taken from the traditional folk song, “The Gentleman Soldier”



The man on the opposite seat was watching her. Watching her closely. Artemisia grunted as a warning, pulling her traveling cloak up over head.

She did not wish to be disturbed.

It had been a long journey from London to Yorkshire. A long journey. And she was not at all pleased with her mode of travel. Of course, she wouldn’t mind so much if she were riding in her father’s personal coach, outfitted with its own magical accoutrements to make the trip smoother. But now she was packed in amongst five Muggles and their luggage, her legs going numb from the unrelenting cold.

The woman next to her refused to stop chattering. Chattering away about nonsense like bed curtains and the importance of a morning’s constitutional.

Artemisia thought she might hex her in a minute. To hell with the Statute of Secrecy. And to hell with bloody highwaymen!

This is better than New York, her conscience chided her. You mustn’t blame good old Dick for this, he went to great lengths to get you this position. 

And what a position it was.

Artemisia shifted on the hard seat, all too aware that her bottom was becoming frostbitten. The coach rumbled past a field of sheep, their wool coats thick for the winter. Mud splashed up against the windows.

She grimaced, longing for London and love that was not unkind.

So sentimental, she thought. You’re worse than a novel, filling your head with rubbish. Let Maxime stew a while in France and see how he likes it.

But oh, Artemisia knew she was a hypocrite. If he husband appeared before her right now, she would certainly be the first to apologize.

Even though she wasn’t at fault. Or so she thought…

No matter. As it was, Maxime was nowhere to be found and she didn’t have the time to play peacemaker

Artemisia was traveling to Yorkshire on a mission for the Auror Office, a mission not one of her colleagues wanted. Surprisingly, the case had a bit of prestige about it, having been picked up by all the London papers, including the Prophet.

If the war in the colonies had been going better, the populace surely wouldn’t be interested in something as commonplace as a highwayman. Unfortunately, the Muggle commander, General Sir William Howe, had failed to defeat the Continental forces at the Battle of Breed's Hill, despite the rebels running out of musket powder before the end of the day.

And to make matters worse, although General Howe managed to take the ground that day, his losses nearly doubled that of the rebels.

Perhaps the Americans would make of go of this revolt after all.

But Artemisia couldn’t allow herself to be distracted by seditious thoughts now. She had a highwayman to a catch, a highwayman that had robbed his way from Blackheath to the northernmost corner of England. Hopefully, by the time she arrived in Kilburn, he would still be in Yorkshire and not in Scotland.

But what made this highwayman so uncommon was his magical abilities. Yes, Captain McGreevy (as he had dubbed himself) was a wizard, using not only his rapier and pistol, to harry his victims, but a wand as well.

And the situation was getting too serious for the Ministry to tolerate. Captain McGreevy had recently stolen a trunk of goblin-made jewelry belonging to Lady Fenshaw, the wife of a high-ranking Ministry official and a member of the nobility.

The task of capturing this rogue was handed off until it fell rather haphazardly into Artemisia’s lap two weeks. If she would not go to America, she would brave the moors of Yorkshire and bring McGreevy to justice.

Even so, she wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about the job. She had been matched up with a new partner…only because Head Auror Dick Hart was too much of a gentleman to send her off into the wild on her own.

Her accomplice was a squib. A rough, rugged Irishmen whom she had met two weeks before at the Ministry. Artemisia had gathered little from their hasty introduction, except that Martin Farrell was a captain in His Majesty’s army, conveniently garrisoned in the small Yorkshire town of Kilburn with his company.

Dick explained that Captain Farrell had long acted as a liaison between the Muggle army and the Auror Office. When Artemisia had asked why the man wasn’t involved in the American rebellion, Dick simply dismissed her, saying, “He was the wrong man for such work.”

For her part, Artemisia couldn’t care less what this Captain Farrell was suited for. She was in a melancholy mood, having left things poorly with Maxime during his last visit. And since then, she had not heard from her husband.

Perhaps, she thought, this case would provide her with a distraction from her martial troubles. The skeptic in her, however, sincerely doubted it. 

 

 






At half past five on a Wednesday evening, the stagecoach trundled wearily off the main highway and into Kilburn,. The passengers were left off at the town’s only tavern, outside of which Artemisia noticed a fair number of Muggle soldiers. The men were leaning against the low stone wall separating the high street from the tavern yard, drinking from tankards and playing dice. Pipe smoke mingled with the falling shades of twilight.

Artemisia had little luggage with her, only a small bag in which had packed a change of clothes and some items for her toilette. She was wearing a heavy-skirted riding habit and a small cocked hat, an outfit more popular amongst Muggle women than Ministry witches, who often wore their robes over knee breeches.

Lingering outside the tavern, Artemisia tried to catch the eye of one of the soldiers. She was supposed to meet with Captain Farrell at his company’s barracks, although she hadn’t the slightest notion where the man was staying. Officers usually resided apart from their troops, that she knew, but Farrell had given her no indication as to where she might find him.

She waited until some of her fellow travelers had drifted away before she approached a particular lean, young Corporal. His face was pock-marked and he left his tunic unbuttoned, despite the biting cold. His hands, wrapped around an earthenware mug, were heavily calloused.

Artemisia knew it was highly inappropriate for an unescorted woman to make conversation with a lowly foot solder, but she wasn’t one to hold back on account of social morays.

Smiling pleasantly, she edged closer to the man. “I beg your pardon, Corporal, but do you know if Captain Farrell is staying in town?”

The Corporal stared at her, uncertainty entering his eyes. He took a sip from his mug and swallowed noisily.

“Aye, ma’am.”

Artemisia shifted her feet on the hard-packed dirt road. “Do you know where I can find him?”

The Corporal began to shake his head, but then raised his hand and pointed at the tavern. “Inside, ma’am.”

“In the tavern?”

“Aye.”

Artemisia rolled her stiff shoulders. She wasn’t in the mood for raucous revelry at the moment, although she rarely turned down a drink herself.

Lifting her cumbersome skirts, she stumbled through the gate and into the tavern yard, all too aware that the Corporal was still watching her.

“Who is she?” Another soldier lisped.

“Captain’s mistress?” A second supplied.

“She’s bonny!”

Artemisia was shocked to find she was blushing. Really! Couldn’t she handle a few coarse comments? Was she not an Auror in the service of His Majesty, King George? And yet, she felt degraded…separated from the men in uniform gathered about the yard.

She almost wished she could sport a pretty red coat herself and not have to struggle with her ungainly Muggle disguise. Perhaps then the Corporal wouldn’t have stared at her with such confusion. Perhaps then she would be welcomed more readily into their ranks.

You are a madwoman, Artemisia told herself as she headed up to the tavern door. They’d send you off to Bedlam if they saw you all trussed up in a soldier’s garb.

She began to feel increasingly frustrated for Muggle women, who did not enjoy the same liberties as their men folk, who could not be soldiers or politicians or sailors.

Pity them.

Artemisia shook her head distractedly. She was acting like Maxime, worrying over every little thing, every little injustice she could not change…

The door to the tavern swung open, nearly catching the hem of her skirts. Yellow light, the color of hay baked in the sun, fell out into the darkening yard. A large man stepped over the threshold.

“You’re early, Lufkin,” Captain Farrell said.

Artemisia recoiled as she caught a whiff of ale on his breath. “I didn’t know where to find you,” she countered.

“Well, you haven’t lost me yet. Come inside. We can’t talk here.” He turned around abruptly, his crimson coat tails flashing out like a banner.

Artemisia set her jaw. Damn squib. 

Once inside the tavern, she was greeted with more stares from soldiers, all of whom were bent over mugs of ale. One tall sergeant even had a fiddle upon his shoulder.

“This way, lass!” Farrell barked. He was halfway up a set of stairs, his head sticking over the wooden banister

Artemisia hurried after him, casting a wry smile at the soldiers.

When she reached the second floor, she heard the talk downstairs gradually resume, along with a cheerful jig. A few of the soldiers began to sing.

Farrell was awaiting her down a short corridor, one arm holding a door open. “In here.”

Artemisia dropped her bag at his feet. “I am grateful for your courtesy.”

Farrell grimaced as he shut the door behind them, kicking her luggage inside. They were in a small sitting room with a fire burning in the hearth and an engraving of Benjamin West’s The Death of General Wolfe above the mantle.

“Poor General Wolfe,” Artemisia muttered, observing the handsome, young officer reclining in the arms of his loyal soldiers as he surrendered his life at the Battle of Quebec.

“The Frenchies got him,” Farrell noted. To his credit, he had poured Artemisia a glass of brandy and fetched her a chair by the fire.

“That they did,” she replied, thinking of Maxime.

She seated herself and enjoyed the brandy while Farrell found a chair of his own. “Are you quartered here, Captain?”

“Aye,” he said distractedly. “Small town, Kilburn. Small garrison too. No proper officer’s house.”

“I am not complaining,” Artemisia said. The room was tiny, yes and thoroughly masculine. A pair of muddy boots stood beneath the window and there was a riding crop on the floor near the writing desk. “Is there room at the inn for me?”

“Well, I can secure the stable if you need to give birth.”

“I was not quoting the Bible.”

Farrell sat down opposite her, his hands on his knees, his sandy hair poking out of a messy queue. “You can stay at the tavern while we are working together. What do you know of this McGreevy fellow?”

Right to business, Artemisia thought and she threw down the rest of her brandy.

Farrell laughed. “Who taught you to drink?”

“The French, surprisingly,” she replied. “I was stationed at Beauxbatons for over a year as Ambassador Honorius’s personal secretary.”

“Fredrick Honorius? Good man. He was an Auror, aye?”

She nodded slowly. “Retired now.”

“He taught you how to duel?”

Artemisia raised a brow. “I taught myself.”

Captain Farrell rubbed his chin and she noticed that his cheeks were dusted with a bit of stubble. “Dick Hart said you were competent. My sainted aunt, I hope so. This isn’t going to be easy.”

Artemisia wasn’t sure how to reply. Instead, she lifted her hands to the fire and felt the heat bring life back into her aching fingers. “I traveled by stagecoach for a reason,” she said. “Talk is rife amongst the Muggles. Merchants are afraid to take to the roads.”
“With good reason.” Farrell leaned back in his chair. “McGreevy is bold. I set my men on a patrol, posted sentries on every road. He evaded every one and still managed to rob a passing lawyer.”

“He must be using Disillusionment Charms.”

A frown pulled Farrell’s lips down. “Mayhap. That’s your business, not mine. If we’re going to catch him, we shall have to do it quietly, away from Muggles…unless you happen to be particularly handy at Memory Charms.”

Artemisia stared at the uneven floorboards. There were ghosts of footprints leading to and fro, pacing the length of the room and back. “I’ve never worked with a Squib before,” she admitted.

Farrell scoffed. “Afraid you’ll catch something?”

“No.” She glanced up at him, feeling both offended and abashed. “I just thought…well, considering how things are…it might be difficult for us--”

Something akin to annoyance touched his eyes. “You think I’m useless because I cannot perform magic, aye?”

“No.” Artemisia put her empty glass down on a side table.

They sat for a moment in silence. Downstairs, she heard the merry fiddle. The men were singing of familiar, jaunty tune.

It's of a gentleman soldier as a sentry he did stand
He saluted a fair maiden by a waving of his hand [1] 


“It’s uncommon for Muggle women to be entertained by soldiers,” Farrell said at length. He stood and leaned against the mantel, his burnished gorget glinting in the firelight. “I’m going to my lads that you’re my mistress.”

“Fine,” Artemisia replied evenly.

“You do not mind?”

“Of course not.” She offered him an indifferent expression. “I am an Auror in the service of His Majesty, Captain. We are one in the same.”

Farrell laughed at her. “Not likely, lass.”

Artemisia was surprised to find herself indignant. With some difficulty, she held her tongue. There was no need to thrash her new partner just yet.

Farrell, however, seemed to sense her discomfort. “If I might be honest, Lufkin,” he said. “Its you I’m rather worried about. Can’t have you waving your wand in front of my lads every time you think you see a highway robber.”

“I have no intention of doing so,” Artemisia replied with a sigh. They were getting absolutely nowhere. Exhaustion weighed down upon her and she felt the last of her patience slipping away.

Farrell flashed her a crooked smile. “As long as we understand each other.”

He took her out into the hall again and showed her to her chamber several doors down from his sitting room. Downstairs, the soldiers continued to carouse.

And despite herself, Artemisia realized she was beginning to envy Captain Farrell’s fine red coat.

 

 






Artemisia was roused the following morning by the sound of drums. Drums and fifes. The cacophony of music was unpleasant to the civilian listener and she found herself casting a Silencing Charm around her room if only to snatch another hour of precious rest.

In the hazy space between sleep and wakefulness, she tried to imagine herself lying next to Maxime in a house that was all their own. But instead, she found herself curled beneath a patched quilt in a drafty tavern so far away from the regularities of domesticity.

And it was then that she began to feel very sorry for herself.

Not long after, the parade music stopped, only to be replaced with the heavy stamp of boots on the stairs. Reluctantly, Artemisia cast off her blankets and found her discarded traveling cloak to wrap around her shivering frame.

Someone was knocking on her chamber door.

“Lufkin! Get up!”

Captain Farrell, of course.

“What is it?” she barked back, all too aware of the frog in her throat.

She thought she heard laughter on the other side of her threshold.
“We had two more robberies last night. Best get to work...or whatever it is you intend to do.”

Artemisia found herself scowling and she snatched her wand up from the nightstand, enjoying it’s weight in her hand. “What I intend to do,” she muttered.

Several sparks flickered about the tip.

 

 






Author’s Note: My goodness! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I do sincerely apologize for this terribly delayed update. I somehow came down with whooping cough in September, which kept me away from HPFF for far too long.

However, I’m back now ! And because I’m being a NaNo rebel this November, there will be plenty of updates for your reading pleasure. ^_^

I would like to thank all my patient readers and reviewers for your continued support. Thank you all! Your feedback means the world to me.

The next chapter shall be posted soon. Take care!

[1] The song referenced in this chapter is in fact a fantastic old folk ditty titled “The Gentleman Soldier”. Although it’s been covered by many contemporary artists, Steeleye Span’s version happens to be my personal favorite. ;)
 

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