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Gentleman Usher Of The Scarlet Rod

by

Heather Sinclair

Viceverza1@yahoo.com

Spoilers: Deathly Hallows

Pairings: H/Padma

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

This story contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 13 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in, and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 13 read this story unattended. This story contains one or more of the following: intense violence, intense sexual situations, strong coarse language, or intensely suggestive dialogue.

Disclaimer: This story, and any content relating to the Harry Potter franchise is not authorized by J.K. Rowling, or Scholastic Press. I own my computer ...

Authors Note:

Those of you that are intimately familiar with British Peerage and the various Orders of Chivalry (ceremony, vestiges, etc.) have my most heartfelt apologies. There are certain aspects of this story that must accept a certain amount of Authors Privilege. So while this story might not be historically accurate it will run much more smoothly. Thank you for your slight suspension of belief. Certain names and dates have been changed.

Elements of this story will contain material inspired from several Horror genre sources including various works of H.P. Lovecraft (including various author's inclusion of his material in their own stories), The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Reverte, the movie The Ninth Gate.

I consider this story multi-genre to include: Action, Drama, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Spiritual, and Supernatural. Don't let the notes above fool you into thinking that this story is a Horror freakshow. My muse was inspired and then she went insane throwing plot bunnies left and right. I still have the scars - look, see?

 This story is being written while I am waiting for the latest chapter of ULFD to be returned from beta.

Any mistakes found are my own.

Chapter One

Tria numina iuncta in uno

(Three Powers Joined as One)

Truly, there are terrible primal arcana of earth which had better be left unknown and unevoked; dread secrets which have nothing to do with man, and which man may learn only in exchange for peace and sanity; cryptic truths which make the knower evermore an alien among his kind, and cause him to walk alone on earth.-From "The Diary of Alonzo Typer"

April 20, 2007, 10:07 a.m.

"Bring him before us," Queen Elizabeth II stated with a weary tone. "We must have him appointed by Monday or else the element of surprise is lost."

The elderly man bowed before his queen. "As you wish, your Majesty."

 He stepped rather lively out of her rooms and to the main offices of Buckingham Palace all the while searching for a number in the contacts list of his cellular phone. He strode through entryway of his office and secured the door as he selected the name and placed the call.

No more than two rings later a male aristocratic voice answered. "Morgan here."

"She wants us to contact him."

"When?" Morgan asked.

"Today -- now. She's very insistent on this matter."

A grunt of disapproval sounded. "The Home Office is not going to be pleased."

"The Sovereign has discretion in matters of appointment. It is not for the Home Office to approve or disapprove. Find him and be quick about it."

"Understood," Morgan replied before he heard the silence of disconnection.

~o~

 Politics. Someone give the Killing Curse one more try, please. Senior Auror Harry Potter stood watch over the to-be-appointed Muggle Prime Minister at Downing Street's insistence. Chatter in the intelligence community spoke of a terrorist attack at the onset of his ascendance into office. Minister Shacklebolt knew of Harry's desire for the Director's office and the fast track included a tour through the political circle.

 The PM-to-be hadn't been announced as of yet, a couple of weeks to go before that happens, but during the interim Harry stood guard in what was known in political circles as the wizard's cove (a five by five foot magical inset of virtually every office and gathering room of every person of reasonable power in parliament, and the home office.

Royalty was an entirely different matter. The Queen had insisted that her personal wizard, as well as those that accompanied the Prince of Wales and the two heirs would always be visible as to always be at their beck and call.

Relations between Muggles and Magicals were strained since the occupation of Voldemort in the latter half of '97 through spring of '98. The numbers of those under the Imperious Curse were so vast that it was virtually impossible to adhere to the laws concerning secrecy. Royals around the world as well as Heads of state were falling in large numbers to the hand of the Dark Lord, and if not for the brave acts of Harry Potter and his two friends Voldemort would have had all of his wishes come true.

The Official Secrets Act, pertaining to information designated as risks to national security, was updated to include various lines of the Muggle Protection Act, in essence making it a major crime for certain muggles to reveal any knowledge of the existence of the wizarding world.  

Most members of the Wizengamot thought providing Aurors to guard a few muggles a small price to pay in return for all out war with the nation's government at their discovery of what had happened to them at the end of the second reign of Voldemort.

Harry sat in his chair, his eyes glazing over for the tenth time that day while the PM-to-be went about his day, on the phone mostly, when a knock sounded at the door to the office.

The PM-to-be hung up and looked up. "Enter."

Harry fingered his wand, as he always did, in vain as he watched an elderly well-dressed man enter and nod at the PM-to-be. "Orders from Her Majesty, sir."

The elderly man handed off an official looking document and waited for its inspection before proceeding. "Her Majesty orders your wizard to Buckingham Palace immediately."

At that announcement Harry's ears perked up and he stood and exited the wizard's cove through the illusionary wall covering his room.

The elderly man turned and sniffed somewhat haughtily before continuing. "Auror Harry Potter?"

Harry's wand hung by his fingertips at his side as he nodded. "What's this?"

"Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second orders your presence. Your replacement will be arriving…"

A crack sounded somewhere in the distance as Apparition wards had been placed around for security reasons. A moment later a knock at the door announced his replacement.

"Follow me," the elderly man ordered.

Harry's eyes narrowed for a moment and he set the snobbishness he was receiving aside in order to find out what was happening. They exited the offices and got in the black limousine waiting in front.

There were two bench seats facing each other in the rear of the car whereupon the elderly man took one and Harry the other.

"My name is Sir Rupert Manspark. I am in service to her Majesty as genealogist for the Order of the Bath." He paused as he looked for any recognition on Harry's part. As expected Harry raised his eyebrows in cluelessness. Manspark sighed. "As a citizen of Great Britain you are familiar with certain Orders of Chivalry?"

Harry shrugged in slight comprehension. "You mean Lord and Lady types?"

"Yes, indeed … Lord and Lady types," Manspark replied dryly.

Harry's face hardened. "I was never a big fan of people that hold themselves up as Lords."

Without waiting for a beat in between Manspark whisked back, "Then Mister Potter I would suggest that you prepare yourself to be surrounded by them as you will soon be that which you, what was it you said, weren't a big fan of; though thankfully not a Lord nor with any royal rank whatsoever."

"What's that?"

Manspark sat washboard straight as he recited, "On the 23rd day of May in the year 1725, George the first, you do know he was king at the time do you not Mister Potter?"

Harry's lips perched in mild frustration.

"As I was saying, George the first, King of England, founded what is today known as The Most Honorable Order of the Bath."

"What's this have to do with me?" Harry shot in interruption.

Manspark's eyes narrowed. "Indeed Mister Potter, Indeed. You see there are several officers of the Order that serve Her Majesty, one of which I hold as the Order's Genealogist," he proclaimed quite proudly. "Order members have, since the beginning of the twentieth-century, been made through suggestions to Her Majesty by the Government; people that have made a difference to the Crown and her people or after a lifetime of exemplary service in the Military."

He paused and stressed his next statement. "The right kind of people. The proper kind of people."

With anticipation of an insult soon following from Manspark Harry cut him off. "Again I ask, what's this got to do with me?"

Manspark interlaced his fingers in his lap and continued. "Your mother's name was Evans, correct?"

"Lily Evans," Harry confirmed.

"At the inception of The Most Honorable Order of the Bath, the first Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod was Sir Edmund Henry Charles Evans your many-times Great Grandfather. You and your cousin Dudley Dursley are his last living direct male descendants."

At that Harry crooked an eyebrow. "You sure Duds shouldn't be here for this speech?"

The battle for most disgruntled face pulling continued. "Quite. Unlike your-how should I say this--iniquitous cousin…"

"Oh, good word. May I use that sometime?" Harry sniped.

"At your leisure," Manspark replied. "Unlike Mister Dursley, you are somewhat of a celebrity amongst your kind."

Harry smiled sardonically. "You say that with such admiration."

"I assure you it was not in the least intended."

"I get that."

Harry watched as Manspark's fingers whitened in repressed tension.

"Shall I continue?"

"Please. I assume you are coming to a point?"

"The office of The Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod is to be opened this Monday and the Queen intends to appoint you to that position."

"Excuse me?" Harry said in bewilderment.

"My thoughts exactly. However diluted the Evans bloodline has become you are still his heir and with your questionable service to the crown thus eligible."

"Um … no, thanks. I have a job."

Manspark drew a breath. "Ah yes, cavorting amongst the countryside chasing around so-called Dark Lords and relaxing in the coves of ministry offices on the government dole."

"We wouldn't happen to be related on my Uncle's side?"

Manspark's eyes widened. "I am most assuredly positive that we share no bloodlines, Mister Potter."

Harry smirked. "Call me Harry. All my friends do." Before the elderly gentleman continued he reasserted the previous claim. "Mister Manspark, I have a job with the Ministry of Magic I don't need a new one."

 A grim smile fell upon Manspark's face. "You fail to understand the situation, Mister Potter. The appointment has already been put into motion; unofficially you are a Knight Commander of the Order until the ceremony thirty minutes hence."

Harry's lips separated lightly as the tension in his jaw loosened. "Excuse me?"

Manspark took no pleasure following up. "You have no choice in the matter, Mr. Potter. You will be a Knight Commander whether you want to or not. You can, of course, choose not to recognize the appointment, however unless the Queen revokes the appointment the title will remain."

"I guess I'll be choosing not to be recognized then." Harry paused for a moment while he was being scrutinized. "Damn, you still recognize me, don't you?"

Manspark lips twisted slightly in distaste. "You'll find, Mister Potter, very few people that you will meet today have a sense of humor; so you may cease with your attempts."

~O~

Harry tapped the back of his heels nervously as he sat in wait in the reception area outside the Queen's offices. An attractive thirtysomething business suit wearing assistant typed away on her keyboard without as much as a glance his way. Ah, anonymity finally achieved.

The door to Her Majesty's office opened to reveal Manspark once more and his approach brought Harry to his feet.

"While in the presence of Her Majesty you will only speak when spoken to, you will bow, you will not touch her in any way, you will be on your best behavior. Are we understood?"

 Harry's eyes squinted in thought. "What if I have to pass gas?"

Without missing a beat Manspark responded, "Then Mister Potter I would suggest that you hold it."

The elderly man turned and entered the office with Harry trailing behind whispering, "You can get a disorder from that."

Manspark stopped after a few feet inside. "Your Majesty, may I present the last of the Evans line, the Wizard Harold Potter."

Harry tapped Manspark on the shoulder. "Actually it's just Harry."

An ancient aristocratic female voice sounded out before the correction was made. "Mister Potter, come forth."

Harry took in as much of the office as he could without being disrespectful. Out of the corner of his right eye he noticed a couple of people, but his mainsight held only the Queen of England. He stepped forward and bowed slightly in reverence.

"Sir Rupert informed you of your appointment." She said matter-of-factly.  

"Yes, Your Majesty," he responded. "But…"

The stern face of Elizabeth stopped him before he could say anymore. "Are you in the habit of refusing the will of monarchy, Mr. Potter?"

Harry almost felt eleven years old again under her gaze. "Erm…"

"I assure you that this appointment is not to be taken lightly. Your Minister of Magic and Director of Magical Law Enforcement said your cooperation was assured."

 "I… um," he sputtered.

Her head turned to the people to Harry's right that he had missed from before. "Assurances were made."

Harry followed her eye line to a somewhat familiar face.

Padma Patil stood with her hands behind her back with a constipated look on her face. "My apologies, Your Majesty. Apparently Harry has not been fully briefed. With your leave?" After a nod by the Queen, Padma turned her gaze on her former classmate. "Please Harry the situation is dire and we need your help. Accept the appointment and I'll explain things properly after."

 Dire. There's that word again, thought Harry. He searched her brown eyes for any sign of what he dreaded was going to be another long fight for his life. Taking a less than noticeable deep breath he turned back to the Queen.

"Your Majesty, I am yours to command."

The elderly queen braced herself on the desk and rose to her feet. While she made her way around the ornate desk Padma stepped in front of Harry.

"Open your cloak," she instructed.

He did so and she reached around him and strapped on a very long heavy belt around his waist, slipping the end under and over above his right leg so that a good foot and a half hung almost to his knee.

Padma frowned slightly at the length. "We'll adjust this shortly. Now kneel for the Queen."

Harry raised a single eyebrow and slowly went down on his right knee.

"Both knees, Harry," she whispered. "Hurry, we are short on time."

Slipping his left leg back he felt something touching his ankle. A quick glance back and he saw two men strapping something that looked like spurs onto his boots. He turned his head back and was about to say something to Padma but found the Queen standing there.

"Bow your head Mister Potter," she ordered.

He did as instructed but his eyes darted around trying to see what was going on. A moment later he was touched on either shoulder.

"Rise Sir Harry, Knight Commander, Order of the Bath."

Harry raised his head to see the Queen handing off a short bronze sword to Padma. He took to one foot and pushed himself up and watched as the Queen exited the room followed by several of her aides. Manspark stood by the door and bowed respectfully before following.

Harry released a breath of air he just realized he was holding and turned to Padma to get some answers. He saw tension in her shoulders and the release of her cheek that he assumed she was biting.

"Can I know what's going on now?"

She nodded. "Follow me and I'll brief you along the way."

"Your scabbard, Sir Harry," one of the men said.

Harry recognized him as one the men that put on one of the spurs. He was about to grab the simple bronze scabbard when the man stepped to the side and attached it to a ring hanging from his belt.

"Thanks," he replied.

"Your sword, Sir Harry," the other man said as he offered the hilt first.

Harry took the sword and slid it in the scabbard, securing the blade.

"Are you coming, Harry?" called Padma from the door on the other side of the room.

He grabbed the hilt of the sword with his left hand. "Depends. Do I get any more nifty gifts? Maybe a horse?"

Without giving his attempt at humor any notice Padma turned and exited the room. Harry smirked and quick-stepped to catch up.

"I could use some new boots, are you sure?"

Two more rooms later Padma stopped and opened a decretive panel to call a lift.

"Harry," she said without turning around. "I'm not sorry I suggested your name to the Queen. You were the only person I could think of that fit the criteria."

He stood beside her and kept his eyes on the door waiting for it to open. "Don't mention it. I have this nifty new sword that I can stick things with. Kinda got melancholy since Neville got to keep Gryffindor's."

Padma turned her head. "That sword has a history as well."

They were interrupted by the lift door opening and Harry held his hand out for Padma to enter first and then he followed her. He watched as she inserted a key card into the appropriate slot and punched one of the lower buttons. One of the things that stood out was that he knew they were currently on the second floor and there were more than a dozen or so buttons to choose from below the one marked two.

"Tell me what you know of the Tuatha De Danann."

He blinked for a moment and shook his head. "Absolutely nothing."

"The Spear of Lugh, Claiomh Solias, The Dagda's Cauldron, The Stone of Fal, The Four Treasures," she said in frustration. "None of these ring any bells with you Harry?"

Harry released the sword hilt and crossed his arms as he leaned against the back wall of the lift. "Enlighten me."

"Bloody Gryffindor's," she said to herself. "Did you never open a book in History of Magic?"

He shook his head again. "You're getting me confused with Hermione." He raised his hand about shoulder height. "About this tall, frizzy hair, top of her class."

Padma's eyes narrowed. "Fine, short version then for the NEWT challenged. The Tuatha De arrived from four northern cities to the shores of Ireland almost four thousand years ago. They brought with them four treasures that supposedly every king of Ireland has used upon their succession to the throne. Or that's the story anyway."

Harry looked over to the rows of buttons and noticed that they were about to arrive to their destination. He stepped away from the wall and dropped his hands. "So I have to find these treasures and kill a new Dark Lord or something?"

The five seconds of silence that followed were broken by the doors opening and Padma making a quick exit.

Harry's eyes widened slightly. "Padma, I was joking."

The doors started to close and Harry hopped out and caught up to her brisk pace.  He looked from side to side as they followed a cave-like tunnel lined only with torches for illumination.

"What is this place? Where are we going?"

"It's the work area for the Royal Wizard," Padma explained. "For about the last two hundred years the Royal Wizard uses this as a private work station, living quarters, and ritual site away from Muggle eyes." She continued on passing a few rooms until their destination to a heavy wooden door where she stopped. "We have to complete the ritual you are taking part in."

Harry stopped and looked the door up and down trying to figure out what his school acquaintance was leading up to. "Okay, lets slow down just a tad here," said Harry as he made a stopping motion with his hands. "I didn't sign up for this and excuse me if I'm feeling a tad manipulated here."

Padma sighed. "The Minister of Magic was supposed to have covered this with you yesterday." Her head dropped down and then back up as she looked to be gathering her thoughts. "Only a person of a certain character and ability can take up the Hallows, and you will need their aide to…"

She wasn't able to complete her explanation before she saw Harry's eyes widen and sudden tension flow through his body. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hallows?" Steeled determination set over his face after which he turned and strode purposefully back toward the lift.

"Harry?" Padma almost whined.

He turned around in response but still backed up to put as much distance between himself and whatever was in that room. "I had enough with the Deathly Hallows a few years back, Padma. It almost got me killed and did get a number of people that I did know very dead. Thanks but no thanks."

He turned back and resumed his pace with Padma increasing her step to catch up. She grabbed his arm to stop him, and when he spun around in response she cringed back.

"I never said anything about Deathly Hallows. They are the Hallows of Ireland. Harry, it's not what you think."

His jaw set and his eyes narrowed. "Let me take a guess. I have to go on a quest to find these magical items that can only be held by me in order to defeat some unspeakable evil that the government has let to fester for years when they could have taken care of the problem before it got out of hand?"

"Um …" was her first response. "Sorta." But before Harry's attitude angrily increased she clarified. "There is no quest. You are already holding two of the … treasures, I have the third and the forth is in Ireland; it's a gigantic stone."

She gauged his reaction and saw that he was holding himself back for the time being. "Someone or maybe some-thing is killing members of the Order of the Bath, specifically officers. The last time this happened was about seventy years ago and again about seventy years before that."

Harry's demeanor changed to curiosity. "What is this, some type of serial killer or something?"  

Padma shook her head in answer. "This has been going on for since the Order's inception."

They stood there for a few silent moments before she continued. "Look Harry, like it or not this is your job. The killer is mystical or magical in nature and it is killing Muggles. You are uniquely qualified over others not because of who you are but because of the way you live your life." She tuned and headed back toward the heavy wooden door. "Now are you going to help them or not?"

His shoulders slumped slightly and he sighed but followed.

~O~

Harry was having a very hard time keeping the grin off of his face as they left the ritual room. Padma, on the other hand, was red with mortification.

"If you ever mention what went on in that room to anyone in your entire life I will…"

Harry's teeth filled grin widened even further. "Padma, I would never … I mean warm oil and …"

Her red face turned angry. "I mean it, Harry; not one word."

She turned and made her way to the lift with Harry's buoyant footfalls following.

 

 

"Three Powers Joined as One", posted on June 9, 2008 at 4:49 pm
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