Title: Hope and Glory
Fandom: Harry Potter/The Dark Is Rising
Rating: U
Originally posted: 25 March 2004
Disclaimer: All original works are copyright of their respective owners; I lay claim only to this particular story.
Summary: Oxford, 1941: A likely meeting in an unlikely place.
Notes: Originally written for [personal profile] agonistes, who requested a meeting between Merriman Lyon and Albus Dumbledore -- 'preferably silly', as she said. I attempted to write silly, but did not exactly succeed...yet I rather like how it turned out.

Hope and Glory

Oxford, 1941

That night, there were a few strangers in the shelter under the Cricket Pavilion, presumably visitors caught out of doors when the sirens went off. The regulars who frequented the shelter cast an occasional wary glance at the strangers. Any face that wasn't familiar was suspect. One couldn't be too careful, these days.

In a darker corner of the shelter, apart from the young and harried-looking mothers trying to quiet squalling babies and the group of little girls playing with worn rag dolls, two men sat next to each other. One -- something of a regular at that particular shelter, enough so that his presence was barely registered -- was reading that morning's newspaper. The other -- younger than the first man, most definitely a stranger, and who either consciously or unconsciously was exuding an air of Not From Round 'Ere -- was sitting quietly, staring off into the middle distance at nothing in particular.

Ten minutes passed, then fifteen, and the sirens had still not sounded the all-clear.

The full half hour came and went, and the regular man turned the newspaper over to read the back.

'How goes it?' He spoke to the man sitting next to him without so much as flicking a glance in the other's general direction. One would have had to look very carefully to see his mouth moving, and listen even more carefully to actually hear his voice.

'Well enough,' the stranger replied blandly, after a moment. 'And you?'

'Not as well as we might like.' The newspaper rustled as it was folded in half. 'Surprising, to see you here.'

'An emergency meeting at the Ministry -- they've moved out of London, like most of them. They're not far from here.' A slightly defensive note crept into the stranger's voice when he added, 'I'm afraid I can't tell you where.'

'I wasn’t planning to ask where.'

The stranger did not seem nonplussed by the other man's remark. Instead, he merely said, 'Is it always like this?'

'Most of the time.' The paper was folded again, and slipped into the pocket of the dark overcoat the regular man had draped over his knees.

'Why are you here, if I may ask?'

For the first time, the regular man shot a brief glance at the stranger next to him. One eyebrow rose, nearly vanishing into a shock of wild white hair. 'Why would I not be here?'

'I would've thought that you would be -- ' A vague gesture. 'Somewhere that isn't an air raid shelter in the middle of Oxford.'

'It's as good as place as any,' the white-haired man said. 'There isn't much active call for my profession at the moment. And the ruins that will need excavating afterwards are not the sort I prefer to investigate.'

A rueful smile, and the stranger stroked his beard thoughtfully. 'Because you'd be digging up the present, and not the past?'

The other man did not smile in return. 'All past is present to me.'

Before the stranger could think to reply to that, there was a hitch in the air as if the room had decided to hold its breath, and then a half-heartbeat later the low whine of the all-clear siren began to spiral upwards, carrying the spirits of those assembled inside the shelter with it.

In an orderly fashion born of repeated practice, the people queued up to exit through the single steel-rimmed door. The two men stood toward the back, letting the women and children leave first.

'Best of luck to you, sir,' the stranger said to the white-haired man as they stepped out into the cool night air. He considered holding out his hand to shake, but thought better of it.

'And to you also, professor,' the older man replied, his voice a low rumble that was nearly lost in the mechanical rumble overhead, the steady and reassuring drone of RAF planes returning to base. 'If you are in need of anything, you know where I can be found.'

The younger man nodded once. 'I'll keep that in mind, sir. Thank you.'

'No need to thank me.' For the first time the older man's face showed a hint of expression, the barest twitch of lips into a smile. 'We all fight the same fight, after all.'

As the two men went their separate ways, the younger man's ear soon caught a faint sound. It was a light whistling, winding its way through the night air, twisting in and out of hearing as the noise of footfalls faded into silence.

'Land of Hope and Glory
Mother of the Free
How shall we extol thee
Who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider
Shall thy bounds be set
God who made thee mighty
Make thee mightier yet
God who made thee mighty
Make thee mightier yet....

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