Chapter 11 : The King, The Bishop and The Hogs Back.
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The King, The Bishop and The Hogs Back.
Styr was growing increasingly uneasy about the Scottish guests. He had spent a week trying to gain the family's confidence, attempting to wheedle the location of their origination out of them. He preferred not to use Legilimancy to read the foul families minds fearing they knew enough to reveal his true nature if he did. He had made the mistake of offering them help to settle on their own piece of Northumbrian land, so long as they gave him alone the information they had. He had needed to be careful with them, treat them as honoured guests, when in fact he found them an obnoxious family full of their own self importance. He played on their feelings of betrayal by their Lord, desperate to get as much information from them as he could without the use of magic, before Hrothweard had insisted on meeting with them.
Styr had, in the end, had no choice in granting the meeting. The Archbishop had arrived, unannounced, at the Palace and demanded to see them privately. The meeting seemed to have gone well for the church man, which certainly was not good for the king, but he still had no word as to what had actually been discussed. However, the family had been even more reticent since they had met with the head of the church in Northumbria. Even the fat thug of a boy, who had at first been chatty with Thorfin, even instigating joint pranks on the servants, now avoided the King's son.
Styr thought back over the information he had managed to glean from the Durslieg's, mostly on the day they had arrived, when they had been overwhelmed by meeting the King, and desperate to curry his favour.
The family had, in fact, been the one piece of obviously good news the ship from Dunholm had brought. The captain had paid the tax to trade in the city, passed on his news, then returned to his vessel. Later in the day, the family's wagon and beast had been off loaded, reassembled, and brought to the palace, along with the rest of their belongings; the stench from which was strong even over the smell of the city. Styr had heard the ship had stayed for two more days, trading and gathering supplies, then the captain visited the cathedral where he probably paid tax to the church, as all Christians were expected to do, before he departed, allowing the tide to pull his ship down the river back to the coast.
The news they brought of raids from north of the wall, which seemed to have resumed again, gave the king an excuse to ignore the summons to lead his army south. He was, of course, yet to inform Hrothweard of this news; he was still considering how best to use this information for maximum gain, to catch the churchman off guard. Today though, his time was up; today the Archbishop was to visit the palace again, for the King's council, which meant that Styr would control the meeting. He would be able to put the Archbishop in his place, and stop any more thought of moving the Fryd south. This was the one meeting they both attended where the King had complete control; there was no possibility of the Archbishop being able to overrule him without making himself look foolish. That said, the churchman was a good politician, and would try to manipulate the King, expecting more leeway on protocol than was strictly allowed, believing it his right for gifting the throne to him. Not this time though. Styr too was a good politician; it was time to bring the clergy under control. He would inform Hrothweard what would happen. The news of the raids in the north would mean that the Lords summoned to attend would support him, if only to only protect themselves. This was his chance, perhaps his only one, to call into question the church’s loyalty to Northumbria without having to worry about appearing to be being disloyal to their God, or church.
At least, that was the plan, and Styr brought Thorfin and the Durslieg's into the hall along with his advisers. Perhaps when the family saw him put the troublesome priest in his place, it would loosen their tongues, help them see where their loyalty should lie.
The room was full as the Archbishop arrived on horse-back at the Palace gate, late and with his guard fully armed; a show of power intended to catch the king off guard. Styr however had expected this, and not only had he ordered his own men to deny the guard access beyond the court yard and into the palace buildings, but he also began the kings council meeting at exactly the time proscribed, instead of waiting for the cleric. Hrothweard arrived at the door to the Hall, clearly furious his men had been denied access, but stopped in his tracks as his path was barred by two of the Kings men, as any late arrival would be, once the session had started. He was not accustomed to such treatment; King's council should not start without his presence, not when said monarch was only in that exalted position because he had placed him there. He observed the King directing the discussion, listening intently to the other Lords’ advice. Unable to hear what was said, he waited for the King to notice he was there and create a pause to allow him entry; it was all he could do.
Those in the hall had their backs to the entrance as was customary, showing they trusted their King to protect them in his Hall, so none noticed the angry clergyman impatiently waiting outside. Each Lord sat in a specific place in relation to the others, depending on their status, both in society in general and within the council. Those closest to the King were the most senior, by wealth of land, or the most trusted advisers, whose counsel had proven most reliable in the past. Each had fought alongside Styr when he took the throne, some receiving their reward from him, a few from the church. Hrothweard noticed his customary place at the side of the King was taken by the King’s son; as a consequence of his anger, he did not notice the Durslieg's sat in the shadows behind the throne.
Styr had, however, noticed the angry archbishop’s arrival at the entrance, and decided to keep him waiting for a few minutes longer; they had already discussed a number of issues the Lords had brought news of, and were on city matters. Smiling to himself, he invited more of the Lords to offer their advice on the thorny issue of how much the city would charge for scraping the hulls of over-wintering ships to free them of the barnacles they had gathered since the spring. The amount was eventually set, so the king finally acknowledged the presence of the Archbishop and invited him in; the guards parted to allow him in, and he swiftly moved through the door.
“Ah, Archbishop, I see you have at last arrived.” Styr smiled indicating that the man should sit facing the King. “Not to worry, we have managed admirably thus far without your wise guidance.”
Hrothweard noted the barbs Styr had not bothered concealing in his words painted in the veneer of formal politeness, and his anger rose; it was not calmed as the King indicated he should sit with most of the Lords, closer to the throne; an invitation protocol did not allow him to refuse without losing face further than he had already. He quickly quashed his anger, knowing it would not help; he must not lose control… besides, he held the controlling position, although the king did not yet know it. “My king I believe the news I bring from Wessex will be sufficient to allow my lateness pass.”
The atmosphere in the room tensed amongst the Lords, they recognised the signs of the verbal contest for power between the two most powerful men in Northumbria. This may not bode well for the meeting, or the country as the two men vied for superiority; even the staunch Christians amongst them could not help, but wondered if the old pagan gods, which they knew some of their number still secretly looked to, were not playing with them all for their entertainment.
The King smiled. “In which case, we shall hold off on other matters until we have heard this news which has delayed you, Hrothweard.” Styr knew he was calling the Archbishop’s bluff, and baiting him, not giving the churchman chance to settle into his comfort zone, strengthening his own position, whilst appearing to defer to the church.
Hrothweard had wanted time to drop the news he had brought into the meeting at a more opportune moment in the discussions, to catch them all off guard, gaining agreement before they could object. He began to wonder at the Kings attitude; perhaps he knew more than he had given him credit for? No that was impossible; there was no way Styr could know about this already, he wondered if it was something else of which he was unaware. He inwardly laughed, of course that couldn't be the case, how could his own network of informants fail him? No, the King was bluffing. Having come to this conclusion, Hrothweard drew his attention more confidently to the here and now of the Kings council.
All eyes were on him. Custom dictated that new business not be introduced until the end, but the King had changed that custom; all were awaiting his words now. “The King of Wessex sends his compliments, and orders that St Cuthbert's remains be moved to Dunholm within the month to secure him whilst it is peaceful. Further, in consultation with the family and my colleague in Cantwaraburh, the Durslieg's are to be taken south immediately. They have requested the asylum of the church, and it has been granted. They have proved loyal to the church, and will benefit from its protection.” The Archbishop gloated; Styr's face had briefly betrayed his fury, he had deliberately worded the report to give impression that the King of Wessex was interfering in Northumbrian matters.
Styr calmed himself as he considered the information. He knew it was Hrothweard who had changed the church’s order to Wessex's in order to provoke; his own spies in the Church had told him where the request had come from. He also knew that the King of Wessex had told the church he could not issue such an order; he could merely add his support to a request made by the clergy themselves. Still, he could use Hrothweard's words to sow seeds he could develop later in the meeting. He smiled, an almost feral smile, at the Archbishop. “Please thank Wessex for his complements, but remind him he may not give orders in my Kingdom, anymore than I can in his. However, the church can do as it likes with the corpse in that chamber you have created in the church at Onripum.” He fell silent considering his next move carefully.
The Church had spent much gold to create that chamber beneath the church in Onripum, to hold the box. The crypt was lined with stone, with narrow entrances for the clergy. They had spent much more of Northumbria's treasure to construct a new shrine for the cadaver at Dunholm. No, if they wanted to take it north where it could be stolen more easily in raids, well that was their choice, but should he point out the waste by the church, it could alienate those Lords yet faithful to it. Besides, the Archbishop could hardly expect the Fryd to be sent south when the King would have to supply the guard for the priests who would accompany the saint on its journey; this would give him the excuse to disobey the Archbishops command whilst making it appear to be for the church's benefit. The Durslieg's were a simple matter, so long as he could control their departure; he would after all take the information he needed from their minds, then oblivate them of the experience. Still, he could not give in too easily in the eyes of the council, and he still had the news from the north to break; that should surprise the smug cleric.
Taking a deep breath as if calming himself. “Very well Archbishop, I shall order the guard along the route for the holy saints trip, and of course to accompany him.” Styr agreed. “As for the Durslieg's… perhaps their journey can wait until sufficient of my men are available afterwards to take them south.”
The Archbishop smiled; he had, he believed, won a victory over the King. Perhaps that would help put him back in his place. “The church is grateful to you my king, though only a few guards for the Saint will be required, our own men, and God, shall accompany the holy remains, though as many of your men as you can muster along the route would be valuable. One or two of your men is all that is required to accompany the Durslieg's, their odour, and manner, should put off most attacks anyway; they will leave within the week. After all, it is our allies’ lands they will go through, and the journey north for the blessed Cuthbert is hardly fraught with danger. Dunholm is at peace, by all reports from my clergy there.”
The king smiled. He knew the Archbishop believed he had won; he would continue with the charade, for now. His words and tone were measured, though not noticeably to others, as he responded “Very well, I will supply two men to escort the family, and send word to all men to guard the route of Saint Cuthbert.”
“Thank you, my King.” The Archbishop dutifully replied, his eyes betraying his true feelings; his eyes widened in surprise as the King turned to look into the shadows behind him.
“I believe the rest of our discussions will be of little interest to you as you appear to have made your choice. I am sorry you will be leaving us.” He said in a clear voice, as Hrothweard noticed someone was there for the first time. “I shall see you following this meeting, to make the arrangements; you may return to your rooms for now.” The King addressed the figures that appeared from the gloom, revealing who they were to the Archbishop. They bowed to Styr before they silently left the room, glaring at the cleric as they went.
Styr was almost laughing out loud as the Priest realised the family had heard his words; the King had deliberately hidden them so he would not know they were there. He had gone to some trouble to garner their loyalty, and had damaged that with a few words; still he should be able to salvage something of that relationship, to do what he needed to with them, so long as they wanted to leave the Palace, before going to Wessex. Styr's voice drew the Archbishop from his thoughts.
“Next, we must hear the report from my messengers, who have recently returned with the Durslieg's on the ship that brought them.” The King nodded towards one of the men who had escorted the family from Dunholm.
The report was detailed; Hrothweard's face draining of colour as he learned of the regular raids on where the new shrine was, with the church he had caused to be built to take the saints remains to. This was to be their permanent home; completing their journey round Northumbria, until God’s guidance had told his priests where to build. Dunholm sounded far from safe, contrary to the word he received regularly from his priests. If their reports were false, as now seemed likely, what else were they concealing? The timing of the move had been decided on his recommendations, based on those reports. To change that now was unthinkable; he would lose all credibility with his masters in the south. He had personally assured them of the peaceful relations Northumbria had with the Scots. Was this simply a play by the King to gain power over him by embarrassing him in front of his superior in Cantwaraburh? That would explain the reports he had from the town, perhaps his priests had not misled him, and this report was a lie engineered by the King. Styr was a slippery ally, ambitious enough to do anything to suit his purpose; he had after all betrayed his own brother to gain the throne. Hrothweard had supported that act, but if he could betray his brother so easily, would he remain loyal to him, or betray him without a thought? It was the only answer that made sense; he could not allow the King to get away with it.
With all protocol and politeness forgotten, his anger built and exploded, and he interrupted the report. “Styr, I put you on this throne, now you betray me.” Spittle was spraying and frothing from his mouth as his temper rose to fire and brimstone level. “You will explain why, on your word, I assured the King of Wessex of the safety that the blessed Saint would enjoy in Dunholm? Why, on the strength of your assurances, the church both here and in Wessex has committed vast amounts of gold to build the shrine, and church, only to find as the work is complete, it has been built within reach of heathen savages ravaging the area? Why have you not brought the Scots under control? Your disloyalty to the good of the church has placed both the Saint, and my position, in grave danger. Who supported you against your brother with the sole purpose to ensure our orders were fulfilled, as you agreed at the time? We kept our side of the bargain, you are King, and it is time for you to fulfil your word to us.”
All present drew a sharp breath as the most senior church man in Northumbria brought the King's honour into question. Styr had to react strongly, or all would assume his guilt of the accusations. They expected the King to react as violently as the Archbishop; they knew if he did, they would need to choose sides as civil war erupted between the King and Church.
Styr, however, remained calm, his eyes cold as steel as he responded firmly, his tone oozing the strength of a man who knew he had the power to crush or make the man he addressed. Brooking no argument from his would-be puppet master, his words cut through the tension as swiftly as a sword. “Archbishop Hrothweard, we are not in your vicars’ refectory in Bedern now, nor your cloister, or even a chamber within your house. You are at my council. I will, for now, ignore disregard for proper behaviour in my presence. However, I cannot allow your accusations to stand unchallenged. You complain we have no peace in the North, while you request our Fryd wastes it's time at Wessex, building defences against no one. Defences that Wessex should be constructing for himself, as each Lord here could tell you. I would remind you that the bulk of the gold for your shrine at Dunholm was Northumbrian, not from your church, or from Wessex. Tell me how you wish us to fulfil all the demands you place on us. Which is to be our priority and which ignored? Should we deal with the threat to our northern border, or send men south? Perhaps if you stopped trying to serve more than one master, you would see more clearly the requirements of Northumbria. Archbishop, is your loyalty here or with Wessex?” The Kings words were dripping with insults, both obvious and implied, but every Lord present knew them to be true.
The Archbishop sat, shocked, unused to being spoken to in such terms, but his anger was quietened at the realisation of the truth of them. “I must obey Cantwaraburh, he is senior.” He weakly replied, not able to defend against the accusations made.
“Why?” Styr replied, the strength in his voice not diminishing as he swiftly continued, not allowing Hrothweard to answer. “Because Wessex dictated? Who is he to rule your church, and attempt to take Northumbria by stealth through you? He knows nothing of life here, so why let him rule your actions here? How can he know the needs of the people you serve? Cuthbert will go to Dunholm, without his help, but to ensure the shrine is safe, we must quiet the Scots. For that we need information from the Durslieg's”
Whilst the Archbishop stared silently open mouthed at Styr, the implication that Wessex was trying to invade Northumbria by stealth shocked him into realising he was rapidly losing the loyalty of the Lords present. Wessex had left him impotent to respond, so the wizard took his opportunity. He wordlessly cast Legilimens on the Archbishop for the first time; what he found was no surprise. The man was frantically trying to find a way to regain control, but had none. Styr pushed past those thoughts to dig deeper, searching for the information he needed. He swiftly swept through the memories he did not require, until he found the ones of his meeting with the Durslieg's He quickly extracted the information he wanted, then withdrew his probing, satisfied he now knew all that Hrothweard did about the appalling family, and significantly, some detail of their journey. He now knew the name of the village they were from, and that it was close to the formidable fortress of the school; details considered unimportant by the Archbishop, as the family had been unable to tell him the nature of those who attended it. Hrothweard was still unaware of why Styr's men had brought them to Jorvik. The King gained this knowledge in a few short seconds, and then silently obliviated the memory of his intrusion; none of the observers knew anything odd had happened.
The lack of response from the Archbishop indicated to the other Lords that the King had won this round, and gained their support. As a result of the lack of any denials or justifications of the allegations, they all now agreed to send men to help repel the Scots once and for all. Styr had his army, he knew the name of his target, he now had no further need of the Durslieg's, they would be gone within a day.
Hrothweard returned to his palace behind the Minster in a foul mood after the meeting. Styr had somehow out-manoeuvred him on an issue he had been so sure of. The king had succeeded in leading him into agreeing to too much; Cantwaraburh would not be pleased his instructions had not been enforced. Styr had been too prepared, starting the council without him; not breaking custom for his guard; or allowing him in as soon as he arrived. His absence from that discussion had prevented him levying a church tax on the amount; he had to be present to have it added; now they would miss out on a valuable source of winter income. Then the King had apparently known more about the situation at Dunholm than his own informers had told him, thereby enabling Styr to legitimately show his generosity to the church in providing the guard and Fryd to protect the saint, a gesture that would not go unnoticed by Wessex. This overshadowed the non appearance of the Fryd to go south, a lever he no longer had with the King, who would already be preparing to summons it to Dunholm. On top of all that the accusations he had made were perfectly true and had lost him the loyalty of the Lords whose first duty was to the people that relied on their lands. The Archbishop contemplated how he could regain control on the king, and prove his effectiveness to Wessex. After all he did not want to be the first Archbishop of Jorvik not to become Archbishop of Cantwaraburh when the time came for it.
Styr, meanwhile, was happy with how things had gone and had immediately sent messengers to Wessex, with the news that despite the threat from the North he was ensuring the safe passage of the precious remains of the saint. It was important he got the message to them before Hrothweard did, not only did it demonstrate his loyalty to the church, and prevent the Archbishop claiming the credit, but it also diminished Hrothweard's position with his senior colleague. Not only because he had not known about the troubles near this shrine, the site of which he was responsible for choosing, but also because his lack of knowledge had led the church to act precipitously in ordering the saint be moved. In the process, he had gained the complete loyalty of the Northumbrian Lords, and undermined the churches influence without exposing his own position. The Fryd would, as a result, probably number at least ten thousand men. Hrothweard had even managed to undermine the loyalty to the church of even the staunchest Christian amongst the Lords with his display.
Styr had also gained information on the location of the stronghold full of witches and wizards along with its village. He lacked a precise location, but he had a name, Hogsmead, and he knew the name of the family that owned it, Gryffindor. Important information which he could use to guide him to his mentors location with an army, with which he could act to guarantee he became king of all England. He also knew his old Mentor was bound by the oath made when he had accepted Styr as his Apprentice, as Styr was too. This could count to Styr's advantage, when it came to the attack; he knew Salazar would act to protect the school, but would also be bound to act against anyone who attacked him personally. He could dismiss his mentor; he would be no threat to him. The fact that Salazar would attack the others in the army did not matter, he would be safe from him and any he saw attacking him. No; the biggest threat to him would be if Utred Huntrodds lived long enough to realise whose army it was.
Petunia, Molly and Ginny stood alongside Delilah and Tarquin, dressed in black robes, outside the cottage Eli and Maggie had owned in Hogsmead A guard of honour, comprising members of Gryffindor house, stood in two lines along the garden path, awaiting their cue to walk through the gate and line a clear passage to the centre of the road. The street itself was quiet; the village was to be effectively closed. The few visitors wandering round, sensing that a solemn occasion was about to occur, were respectfully quiet as they observed the scene. Every shop and business was closing as the appointed time drew close, only the school would be continuing to run as usual during the events in the village, albeit minus a quarter of the students. Harry had felt great pride in his students the day before, as he had escorted a representative deputation of them, one for each year, to Minerva's office. The students had asked that they make their request themselves; they had filed solemnly into the office and lined up in front of the headmistress' desk. They represented every member of the house, as they requested permission to support their two house mates by attending the funeral. They had suggested they could make up the work from the lessons they would miss at the weekend if required; students from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff had offered to share notes of the classes. Minerva had readily agreed, sharing the pride Harry felt that the twins’ new house mates wished to support them as they bid farewell to the last of their free family. She had already adjusted the timetable, so the staff who had known the popular couple, and wished it, could also attend.
Five minutes before the set time, the doors of every house in the street opened, and the occupants of each emerged to stand respectfully on the pavements outside their property. If their house was to be passed by the procession, then the family simply waited; if they lived further up the street, they walked down until they were outside the cottage and assembled across the road. The residents from the rest of the village arrived, joining the others, forming a human wall blocking the street. Aberforth, bearing the village mace, joined the group of five who were watching the actions of the villagers with expressions of surprise. Aberforth set the mace down as he bent to speak with the twins.
“Don't worry you two. Eli and Maggie were both well loved here; everyone in the village knew them and wanted to pay their respects. Now, we must form the procession, so if you will stand along the centre of the road, and we shall ensure everything is done properly for your Aunt and Uncle.”
The twins silently nodded, then allowed themselves to be gently guided by the three women with them as they took position side by side in the centre of the road; the stage was set for the start of the sad duty they had to perform. Both sides of the route were lined with villagers and tourists, all silently waiting, watching; a low rumble of subdued conversation ran through the crowd as the September sun warmed them, all eyes on the door of the cottage.
The clock on the village post office in the square began to chime the hour; all chatter ceased, and a silence fell over all those gathered, and it seemed to the small group in the middle of the road that everyone held their breath. The door of the cottage was opened from the inside, and the students assembled on the garden path turned and marched smartly out of the gate two abreast, wands drawn held upright in front of their chests. Once through the gate, the two lines parted and formed two lines ending just in front of the group. Two figures emerged from the house, they stood either side of the door, and the students smartly raised their wands, arms straight pointing slightly inwards in salute. Neville and Dudley stood either side of the garden path, as first Harry, and then Ron emerged, a coffin held low, gently carried between them. They stopped once Ron had cleared the step; Neville and Dudley then took position, the cousins next to each other at the head. Together the hoisted the casket to their shoulders then slowly walked out, between the students, stopping just beyond the end of their lines, and the group waiting at the end. As they stopped, George and Bill emerged, and stood where Neville and Dudley had moments before. Arthur led Charlie bearing the second oak coffin between them; it too, was raised to be carried on their shoulders as George and Bill took their positions. They followed the path between the students until they reached their position next to the first casket. Dennis closed the cottage door as Aberforth shouldered the Hogsmead Mace, and made his way to a position ahead of the two coffins, turned to face them, bowed, and then waited. Petunia, Delilah, Molly, Tarquin and Ginny then stepped forward in a line behind the coffins, the Gryffindor's lined up behind them; Aberforth turned, and the solemn cortège began the steady walk through the village. The crowd behind remained still as neighbours along the route joined the back of the procession; as the last of the families of that street joined; then the other villagers in the crowd followed on. As the caskets passed, people bowed then joined the back of the black clad parade of humanity; every villager joined the column, leaving visitors standing respectfully watching as they passed by.
It was a half mile walk to the grave yard, along the road out of the village that led to the stile where Harry had once met Sirius in his fourth year. The enclosed area had escaped his notice on that occasion, hidden as it was behind a grass topped dry stone wall. Simple wooden gates were held open by the post master to allow them access to the well tended ground. There were hundreds of grave markers dotting the green between the gravel paths; the oldest stone was just inside the gate, newest at the far end where a double width grave pit was awaiting the arrival of the couple who would occupy it from this day on. Nigel broke line to take the postmasters place; he joined Aberforth to lead the mourners to the grave. They walked round either side to the head of the cut, and turned to face the procession as it arrived; Molly, Petunia, Ginny and the twins took position across the foot of the grave, as the pall bearers lowered the coffins onto a hover charm that held them above the grave. The men then stood respectfully down the sides, completing the square around the grave, whilst the other mourners assembled behind them.
The Gryffindor's stood behind the twins who were, by now, in floods of tears, all three ladies had comforting arms around them, Ginny between the youngsters an arm around each. Many of the village elders remembered when Maggie and Eli had lived here, others knew them from visits; the couple were held in high regard, by all in the village, this was their way when one of their number died.
As civic leader, the Postmaster conducted the ceremony, and gave the official eulogy detailing the lives of the couple. He then invited any present who wished to, to add their own personal memories. A number of the elder villagers told stories of child hood with the two, one spoke of the early days of their romance. Some of the tales were humorous, others simply personal; each gave an insight into the couple. Once the last had spoken, the Postmaster introduced the twins who had calmed as others had spoken, as they stepped forward; they had earlier made it known that they wanted to speak at the ceremony.
“We only really knew Maggie and Eli a short time.” Delilah began.
“Just the last few months of their lives really.” Tarquin continued the 'twin-speak' address.
“But, in that time they taught us more than we had ever learnt before,”
“They taught us about places.”
“And history both Muggle and wizard.”
“They taught us about nature.”
“And the beauty of our surroundings”
“They taught us how to enjoy ourselves.”
“And that it was fine to be ourselves.”
They then spoke together, tears running down their faces. “They taught us that we were loved and how to love.”
Tarquin finished for the twins. “The weeks we spent with them were the best in our lives. We shall try to live as they taught us; that is what they would want us to do. We shall miss them but always love them, as they loved us.”
Again together they said. “Goodbye Eli and Maggie you will always be in our hearts.”
They stepped back to their places, and into the arms of the three ladies, their emotions showing freely, as they could never have done only a few months before. The Postmaster gently lowered the coffins into the grave, where they settled side by side, then covered them with the mound of earth. Hermione stepped next to Petunia and raised her wand. The twins had asked her to conjure the grave stone; beneath the names and dates, the epitaph read “They truly knew life and how to live. Now eternally united.”
Then the twins laid a wreath, and Ginny conjured a carpet of flowers over the bare earth. The twins then nodded to George; he released the single Weasley firework, which exploded with a gentle pop to reveal a picture of Eli and Maggie within a wreath of golden sparks.
Aberforth lowered the Mace from his shoulder, and held it upright in front of him in salute, then re-shouldered it, turned, and led the Postmaster back to the path and led the way to the gate where they stopped and waited. The pall bearers joined the twins, who nodded their readiness to leave. After a few moments, Delilah, Molly, Tarquin and Arthur led the way, followed by Harry and Ginny, Dudley and Petunia, Ron and Hermione; then George, Bill, Neville and Charlie led the Gryffindor's to head the procession back into the village, and the three broomsticks. The group waited in line behind the Mace as the Gryffindor house guard of honour and the villagers lined up behind them.
As they waited, Hermione’s eyes were drawn to an ancient looking hog back stone marker, with runes carved into it. The runes were worn but legible.
She gasped “Oh my word, Ron, look at that.”
Ron, Harry and Ginny looked at the stone; it was the closest to the gate right next to the path. “What?” Ron asked
“That stone, the runes on it are in Furthark. That looks like it was the first burial here.” She replied
“What runes?” Ron asked
“On the side there.” Hermione pointed “They are really clear for their age.”
“Looks like there could be lines carved there Hermione, but they are almost worn away.” Harry said.
“But I can read them, they look clear to me, they could have been carved last week they are so crisp.”
By this time the Postmaster was taking an interest.
“Clear? Ron asked “I can hardly see them.”
Hermione looked at the others; it was obvious only she could read them. “They say 'Utred Huntrodds rightful Lord of Tang, first student of Gryffindor, and his wife the Lady Frayja.. Their chosen descendant shall read where others may not.' Huntrodds, the same name as at Whitby, and in my family.” She pondered a moment then thoughtfully asked “That's the grave of an Utred and Freya Huntrodds; it must be 1000 years old, I wonder if they are ancestors?”
“I suppose it's possible, but 'Mione look into it later. We must keep up.” He said urgently “We have to let everyone in remember.” The Funeral tea was to take place at Titch marsh cottage where Kreacher and Winky were preparing the food in a marquee near the pond. Madam Rosemerta had of course supplied the drinks.
“Oh yes, but isn't it exciting, it could be that my ancestors lived here.” She let him lead her away.
The Post Master had continued to watch the couple; he smiled to Hermione as they reached him. “You, my dear are Utred’s successor and the one destined to free him. We knew he was buried here, but only the heir could read the runes; that much is known to all brought up in the village. I will explain more if you wish at the funeral tea.”
I'm back at last but have not been idle since last posting. I have been working hard for you all as time has allowed and have a few chapters "Banked" so to speak. Keep an eye on my page for latest status of forthcoming chapters.
This Chapter takes this story over the 100 000 word mark incredibly, (It took 17 chapters for essence to pass that milestone).
Due to lack of activity my Meet the Author topic on the forums has gone, please let me know if you would like me to start a new one there.
Many thanks to you all for your patience and to those of you who were kind enough to leave a review. I look forward to seeing what you think of this chapter. I still maintain the policy of replying to all reviews left.
My thanks also to my Beta Jascott for his hard work.
Best wishes to you all.
Furthark is a runic alphabet used at the time. As it was carved into wood or stone, generally it was made up of straight lines, no curves, as they were difficult to carve. There is no difference between the symbols for the modern letters J or Y; they were one letter in Furthark .
A Hogs Back grave stone was a large carved stone, domed across its length marking the top (hence the name). They were set lengthways along the grave, some still survive in situ in Northern Britain but far more have been excavated in graveyards, some of which are now church yards, and so the stone has ended up displayed within the church. They would have been expensive to create, so only the rich would have been able to afford them.
Bedern was the area in York where the church housed it's Vicars and Monks from the foundation of the Minster (see earlier chapter historical notes on the names of York Minster) until the dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry the 8th (he of the 6 wives). Two structures from the later medieval complex of the Vicars choral remain to this day. Bedern Chapel is now occupied by the York Glaziers Trust who famously care for the windows in the Minster and the former refectory is now known as Bedern Hall and is home to three of the surviving ancient Gilds (Guilds) of the City. The foundations of the complex were subject of a large excavation in the 1970's.
The church had powers to raise it's own tax and often attempted to impose it on all, whether believers or not. This was imposed over much of what is now England, Northumbria being a notable exception where only the Christian Saxons tended to pay. The cash was intended to pay for the clergy, buildings and shrines the bishops deemed necessary.
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