Here’s chapter 2 of the incomplete fan fiction piece I am posting leading up to the release of Deathly Hallows 2 next Friday. Again, without anything else really to write about now, you’ll just have to do with this little distraction until I come up with some genuine news.
To read chapter 1, go here.
Chapter Two–The Dursleys’ Tale
Privet Drive lay quiet in its corner of Little Whinging, the peace broken only by the occasional barking dog or passing car. The residents of the small, close houses milled about inside their homes, watching television or loading dishwashers, unaware of the war that had raged for months just beyond the knowledge of their world.
The cloaked figure appeared from the darkness at the end of the street. Had someone been observing the same spot for the past seventeen years, this would not have been as odd an incident as it would on most streets. On two different occasions, fifteen years apart, a tall man with half-moon spectacles perched on a long, crooked nose appeared from thin air on the very spot where the new figure now stood.
Like the previous odd visitor, the new arrival drew a silver object resembling a cigarette lighter from a pocket and held it up to the night, opening it with a quick flip. The object clicked and the light from the closest street lamp went out. One by one, the object clicked the remaining lights on the street into darkness. The figure flipped the silver object closed and returned it to the pocket. Then, illuminated only by the quarter moon, the mysterious visitor to Privet Drive walked forward.
The person reached the front gate of number four and stopped. The lawn was perfectly manicured, awash in summer flowers that made the house appear as though it was adrift in a sea of pinks, purples, and golds. Inside the house, the lights of the sitting room were on, but filtered by the drawn shades and curtains. The rest of the windows, including the upstairs one overlooking Privet Drive, were dark.
The figure opened the gate and walked up the garden path to the front door. Raising a hand, there was a moment of hesitation before the hand formed a fist and knocked three times. A scuffling came from inside, punctuated by a high female voice yelling, “Where’s Dudley?”
Footsteps approached the door and a frightened male voice said, “Who—who’s there?”
There was a slight pause. “How do I know it’s you?” the voice asked from the other side of the door.
“Ask me the question.”
“Where did you sleep before you went to—to that school?”
Harry smiled to himself, a wry smile as he thought of how far he had come since his early life with the Dursley’s.
“The cupboard under the stairs.”
The sound of several locks being undone came through the door, which then swung open, spilling bright light onto the small front porch. Vernon Dursley stood in the doorway and Harry saw that his uncle had hardly changed in the seven years since their lives had forever been changed by a letter proclaiming his nephew to be a wizard. The thinning hair and walrus moustache still dominated the plump, red face, though both had taken on considerably more gray than the last time Harry had seen them. The same dark eyes stared at him from beneath the heavy lids.
“B—“ Vernon started, taking them both back to the days, not so long ago, when Harry had no name other than “Boy” in the Dursley household. “Harry. Come in.”
Vernon stepped aside, but Harry was still forced to turn sideways to slide past his uncle’s considerable girth. The house smelled strongly of disinfectant, bringing back memories that he once hoped to bury forever. Now that he was back, however, Harry thought of his old home on Privet Drive with a mixture of regret and appreciation. He regretted the years of contentment he might have had with a family who actually wished to have him in their home, but appreciated the humbling influence the Dursleys had given to his life. Unwanted, but protected by their willingness to put up with him, Harry owed at least part of his survival to them, the last of his family.
The sitting room looked just as he had left it the previous year. The same matching sofa and chairs complemented the expensive Persian rug in front of the fireplace. The television was on and a newscaster was discussing a recent bombing in an outdoor market. The volume was low, as though the Dursleys had been expecting his knock on their door and did not want to miss it.
Harry saw Aunt Petunia peek around the kitchen door. Her hair looked darker than he remembered and he guessed that she had dyed it to remove the same gray that was taking over her husband’s. When she saw him, to Harry’s surprise, she bolted down the hall toward him and wrapped her arms around him.
“P-Petunia!” Uncle Vernon sputtered from behind Harry.
Harry was too shocked to say anything. He raised one arm and gingerly patted his aunt on the back. After nearly a full minute, Petunia let go of him and took a step back, looking into his face.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” she said. “We–we were worried.”
Harry, who had never heard either his aunt or uncle express any real concern for him, stared in amazement. Behind him, he heard Uncle Vernon give a derisive snort.
“Please,” Petunia continued. “Come in and sit down.”
Harry did, taking a seat in a chair near the fireplace. He found it odd being in a muggle house again, where the portraits on the mantle piece did not move. The various pictures of the Dursleys, completely stationary, adorned the walls and mantle. A new picture, however, one that Harry had never seen before, rested in a frame on a corner table. Mostly hidden by shadow, he could still make out clearly a small child, barely more than a toddler, standing next to a larger child about the same age. Both children he recognized immediately—the older boy was Dudley and the younger one was Harry himself.
Aunt Petunia followed his gaze and saw the picture. Picking it up, she held it out to Harry.
“I found this in a box in the attic,” she said. “It may be the only one we have of you and Dudley. Once he found it, Dudders insisted we frame it and put it out here.”
At this, Vernon made a rude noise that told Harry his exact opinion on Dudley’s request.
“So what brings you back here?” Uncle Vernon asked, his arms crossed over his massive chest. “We thought you weren’t coming back.”
Harry gave the picture back to Petunia. “I left a few things here last summer. Now that I’m on my own, I figured I’d come pick them up so you wouldn’t—“ He wanted to say “throw them away,” which he guessed they had already done. “—have to deal with them.”
“All the things you left are boxed up in the attic,” Vernon said. “I’ll go get them so you can be on your way.” He tromped up the stairs and was soon gone from sight.
There was an awkward moment of silence as Harry and Aunt Petunia sat alone together. Finally, Petunia broke the silence and asked the question she must have been afraid to ask while her husband was in the room. “Is he gone?”
Harry knew she meant Lord Voldemort. “Yes,” he answered. “He’s gone.”
“You—you killed him?”
Harry did not quite know how to answer the question put so directly. Yes, he had defeated the Dark Lord in their duel at Hogwarts, but the credit for slaying Voldemort rested as much with his opponent and his friends as with himself.
“My friends and I defeated him,” Harry replied, “but he died by his own hand.”
“Is he gone for good?”
“Yes, he is.”
Petunia sank back into the couch cushions and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she managed a thin smile.
“After your people told us it was safe to come back home, we had no word on what had happened. All we knew was that we were supposedly no longer in danger, but no one told us anything about what happened to you. After the attack—“
“Attack?” Harry asked. “What attack?”
Petunia flushed. “No one told you? We were attacked as soon as we left the house, right after we left you here.”
Harry could not believe that no one had bothered to share this information with him. While most of the wizards and witches he knew understood that he held little affection for his muggle relatives, they must have known that he would want to know that they had been attacked.
“We were ambushed,” Petunia continued. She kept her voice low and leaned forward. “Several . . . of your people . . . in black robes and masks surrounded us. There was an awful battle and one of your people said to keep down, so we all huddled in the back floorboard. Then, Dudley screamed ‘I want to be in Piccadilly Circus’ and there we were.”
“Where?” Harry asked, confused.
“Piccadilly Circus. Right after Dudley said it, we were there, parked in the middle of the street and blocking traffic. I guess we left the others behind because it was hours before they found us again.”
Harry couldn’t believe it. “You mean—you mean that Dudley—“
“Oh, please don’t mention it to Vernon,” Petunia said. “He’s trying to forget any of it ever happened. Told the neighbors and the people at work that we had to take Dudley to Austria for medical treatment.”
“Where is Dudley?” Harry asked.
“He’s in back. He spends a lot of time out there now. You won’t recognize him.”
Harry stood and walked through the kitchen to the back door. When he stepped outside, he looked around and saw a shape sitting on the concrete bench at the far end of the back yard. As he drew closer, he saw the person more clearly and could not contain the surprise in his voice.
Dudley Dursley turned around and looked at Harry. The severely overweight young man who Harry had last seen was gone. In his place, a strikingly handsome blonde figure sat, the fat burned away into rippling muscle. The large jowls had been replaced by a strong jaw line, well-defined beneath the tan skin, and the blonde hair, cut very close to the scalp only served to enhance the masculine look. To Harry, Dudley looked like some cartoonist’s impression of a young Marine.
Dudley moved to one side of the bench to allow Harry to sit down. Harry did and found that he could not take his eyes off his cousin’s new appearance.
“How ya been?” Dudley asked, not looking at Harry.
“Dudley!” Harry said. “What happened to you?”
“I—I got tired of being fat,” he said. “I wanted something different, I guess.”
Harry tried to imagine the former Dudley, waves of fat crashing with every step, jogging down Privet Drive. The thought would have driven him to laughter if not for the extreme look of melancholy that dominated Dudley’s new, chiseled face.
“Aunt Petunia told me about the night you left here. About Piccadilly.”
Dudley snorted. “She did, did she? In his voice was a trace of the old Dudley, the often-cruel, always-snide Dudley that he had grown up with.
“You did magic, Dudley.”
Dudley looked up at him. “Yeah, and what does that mean? That I’m a wizard? That I should’ve gone to that school of yours?” He turned his gaze back to the hedge. “Dad thinks I’m a freak.”
Harry found himself feeling sorry for his cousin. “Look, Dudley, just because you did magic once doesn’t mean you’ll ever do it again. If you hadn’t done it, you and your parents would probably be dead. If your father doesn’t understand that, then that’s his problem.”
“It’s more than that,” Dudley said. “What if I should have gone to that school? I’m supposed to start university next year. What if I’m not cut out for it?”
Harry could never recall Dudley ever expressing any self-doubt and found himself unsure of how to handle it. “I’m sure you’ll do fine. You’ve obviously learned a lot this year, judging by how you look. I think university will be a great opportunity for you to learn who you are. For you to stop being “Dudders” and start being who you’re meant to be.”
Dudley’s head lowered. “What if it happens again? What will father do if I blow up Aunt Marge like you did or I do something at school?”
“You’re his son, Dudley,” Harry said, trying to sound comforting. “He’ll have to accept you no matter what you do. Aunt Petunia will see to that.”
“She’s sorry you’re gone, you know,” Dudley said. “She’d never say so, but I can tell. She’s been worried about you ever since you left.” He paused for a long time. “So have I.”
Harry felt a warmth he had never before felt on Privet Drive. He had never dreamed that he would be missed once he reached adulthood and now to hear Dudley admit that he and his mother had worried about him, made him almost long for another summer with them. Almost.
“Everything’s fine now,” Harry assured him. “Voldemort’s gone.”
Dudley nodded. “Figured as much since you came back alive. We heard your people that brought us back–Dedalus and Hestia–talking about you, but they wouldn’t tell us what happened.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Harry said. “Just know that you’re all safe here.”
“They won’t come after us, even with what’s-his-name gone?”
Harry smiled. “If they do, they won’t be able to find you. I had Professor Flitwick from Hogwarts perform a Fidelius Charm on the house.”
“A what?” Dudley sounded scared.
“It’s a spell that keeps where you live a secret,” Harry explained. “I’m the Secret-Keeper, so the only way anyone will know where you live is if I tell them.”
Dudley thought about this a moment before speaking again. “What about people from Dad’s work? What about my friends?”
“I’ve written the information on some cards that you can give out to those you absolutely trust,” Harry said. “Don’t go giving them out to just anybody, but if you meet some girl at university that you want to bring home or whatever, you can give her one and she’ll be able to find it just fine.”
“What about the neighbors? Won’t they notice if our house goes missing?”
“Memory charms. The won’t even remember a house being here. Except Ms. Figg. She’s one of us and will look after you.”
“That crazy cat lady?” Dudley asked.
“The same,” Harry replied, smiling.
Dudley looked up at Harry, his eyes going to the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. “How is it? Being a wizard?”
Harry patted his cousin on the back and stood up to go back inside. “Dudley, it’s the best thing in the world.”
The two of them went back into the house. Uncle Vernon was bringing a large box down the stair and stacked it on top of three others by the front door. Petunia still sat on the sofa and when Harry entered with Dudley, she gave them both a worried look. Harry suspected his aunt was wondering what they had discussed in the garden, what he had told her son about his unexpected magical development. He sat down again in the chair across from his aunt and Dudley sat next to her. Uncle Vernon hovered over them as if afraid Harry would attack at any moment.
“I can’t stay long, so I’ll get to the point,” Harry said to Petunia. He avoided his uncle’s baleful gaze knowing anything he said to Vernon would be nothing more than irritating noise to someone so set against magic. “First off, I think what happened with Dudley was just a—“ he caught himself just before the words “freak accident” came out and stabbed at Dudley’s already fragile self-image. “—once in a lifetime event. I don’t think you have to worry about anything like it happening again.”
In truth, Harry had no idea whether this was true. He made a point to ask Hermione as soon as she returned from Australia.
“Second,” he continued, “Voldemort is gone, but there are still some of his followers on the loose. Most have been captured or killed, but the ones that are left may try to cause trouble.” Aunt Petunia gripped Dudley’s muscular arm and shrank away from Harry. Uncle Vernon’s face had gone white and his tightened lips had disappeared beneath the walrus moustache. “Therefore, I asked Professor Flitwick from my school to do a Fidelius Charm on the house.”
Petunia and Vernon exchanged horrified looks.
“That means that no one can find this house unless the Secret-Keeper tells them where it is and I’m the Secret-Keeper.”
Vernon’s lips reappeared as he exploded into speech.
“You can’t do that! I have clients! Investors! How am I supposed to run a business if nobody can find my ruddy house?”
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, silver case. He opened it, revealing a thick stack of what looked like business cards. The top line, larger than the others, read “The Dursleys.” Beneath that, the card said “Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey” in smaller letters. The cards looked as though they had come from some muggle print shop.
“Just hand these out to anyone you wish to have over,” Harry said, handing the case of cards to his aunt. “Anyone who reads these cards will be able to find it. Just be careful of who you give them out to. You don’t want a Death Eater posing as a potential investor stopping by for a chat.”
“Death Eater?” Uncle Vernon asked.
“Voldemort’s supporters,” Harry replied. “Finally, if you need to get in touch with me, let Mrs. Figg know and she’ll contact me.”
“That batty old lady with the cats?” Vernon bellowed in much the same tone that his son had used in the garden.
“Yes, that one.” Harry took offense to anyone calling Mrs. Figg batty, even if he himself thought so not so long ago. Having testified for him in front of the entire Wizengamot, she had forever earned his respect.
“Anything else?” Uncle Vernon asked.
“Yeah, one more thing,” Harry said. He stood, stepped to the front door, and took out his wand. Uncle Vernon nearly plowed over his wife and son to get out of the way.
Harry waved his wand and sent the four boxes his uncle had brought down to Grimmauld Place. All three Dursley’s gasped in shock and wonder.
“Take care of yourselves,” he said. His gaze fixed on Dudley for a moment longer than his aunt and uncle, then he let himself out, shutting the door behind him.
Harry had nearly made it to the front gate when he heard the door open behind him.
Aunt Petunia rushed down the garden path, her skinny bare feet flapping against the flagstone. When she reached him, she held out a photograph, which he took. Then, giving him a thin smile, she returned inside.
Expecting the photograph to be of himself and Dudley as toddlers, Harry was shocked when he flipped the picture over and saw the figures on it were moving. The scene was a playground that Harry immediately recognized from his recent venture into the Pensieve at Hogwarts Three small children, two girls and a boy, stood in front of a swing set. The girl on the left, smiling as though she did not want her picture taken, was Aunt Petunia, perhaps eight years old, pale and thin. The other girl, grinning broadly and blowing the occasional kiss up him, was the young girl that would, years later, become his mother. Lily Evans, her green eyes brilliant even in the pale light of the quarter moon, had her arms around a small, thin boy with lank black hair and a sneering smile. With a tightening chest, Harry looked into the boyish face of young Severus Snape—former enemy, recent Headmaster of Hogwarts, and, now, one of the most tragic losses to come from the war with Voldemort.
Aunt Petunia had clipped a short note to the photograph.
“Harry,” he read aloud, “this was the last thing I had of your mother’s. I thought you might want to have it.”
Harry looked back up at the closed door of number four Privet Drive. For the first time in his life, he felt something besides loathing for the small house and the family within. He did not know exactly what he did feel, but it increased the tightness in his chest.
“Thank you, Aunt Petunia,” he said to the night. Pulling the Deluminator from his pocket. With a single click, he sent a dozen balls of light back to their respective street lamps.
Harry took one last look around the relit Privet Drive, then was gone.