He cracked open one eye to see the black haired lady standing over him holding out a hand to help him up from where he had fallen as he landed. He opened both eyes fully and looked around.
“Where are we?” he asked.
In front of him was a mid-sized cottage in a large garden. He could see fields with animals in the distance. The cottage itself was made of grey stone with slate tiles on the roof and two proper stories and dormer windows in the attic. The fence along the road was also made of grey stone, and parts of it looked like it could fall over any minute.
“This is my home. I’m Hestia, by the way. I don’t think we have been properly introduced.” She turned to look at him. “I inherited it from my parents. Dad was a member of the Order in the last war. He was killed by Death Eaters for marrying a Muggle. Mum moved in with her sister and I got the house.”
“Your mum was a Muggle? That means normal people like us, right?”
“Non-magical people, yes.”
“So you have electricity? And a telly?”
“We have electricity. Its part of the reason the Order chose my house. We thought you’d be more comfortable here than in a purely Wizarding house.”
“And a telly? You have a telly?”
“I moved Mum’s up to the attic. I don’t watch TV myself; I fell out of the habit at Hogwarts. If you can find it, you’re welcome to set it up in the living room.”
Dudley felt relief wash over him. They had electricity and a telly and Daddy would buy him a new console. He always bought Dudley whatever he wanted.
“Where are Mummy and Daddy?”
“Dedalus and Arthur are bringing them. They’ll Apparate too, but they’ll be doing a couple of jumps first in case anyone tries to follow the trail. Having a time lapse means it’s less likely anyone will find us before the Fidelius is up. Now let’s go inside and have a cup of tea while we wait.”
Dudley picked up his bag, grunting slightly. He’d put his dumb-bells in after all and it was quite heavy. Hestia noticed and flicked her wand. Dudley dropped the bag and threw his hands up to shield himself.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Hestia giggled. “I didn’t think. Hagrid told me about your encounter with him. I’m not going to hurt you. I was just putting a featherweight charm on your bag. Go on. Pick it up. It should only weigh as much as... oh... an orange now.”
Dudley picked it up and nearly fell over as he used so much more power than he needed and overbalanced. Following Hestia inside, he dropped the bag in the entrance hall and looked around. The entry hall was large, dominated by the base of a solid wooden staircase. There was a row of coat hooks along the wall to his right covered with coats, and a collection of Wellingtons lined up underneath.
He followed Hestia past the stairs to the kitchen. Hestia waved her wand and Dudley forgot to flinch, being enthralled by what was happening. The kettle flew over to the sink and hovered as the taps came on to fill it with water. It then settled back on its electric base. It was an old country kitchen with wooden worktops and a big table in the middle, an Aga in the corner and — somewhat out of place — a fridge and freezer.
“Push the button on the kettle will you, Dudley?” Hestia’s voice came out from the cupboard she was rifling through. “Tea. Tea. OK, I’ve got English Breakfast, Lady Grey, Camomile, Green or Rosehip Hibiscus. What would you like?”
“Uh, Breakfast Tea?”
“Right then.” Hestia Summoned the teapot and threw in three teabags, then sent it over to sit next to the kettle.
“Are you hungry? Molly sent over a cake with Arthur if you’d like a snack.”
“How long are Mummy and Daddy going to be?”
“Petunia will be here any minute and your father will be about half an hour away. Oh, the tea’s ready.”
Dudley looked around behind him and saw the teapot coming towards him; he ducked and it sailed over his head and landed on the table.
“Hello? Hestia, Mrs Dursley and I have arrived.”
“Dudley, you stay here and enjoy your tea. I’m going to go bring your mother in through the wards. Actually, could you pour her a cup? We’ll only be a moment. “
He watched as she jumped up and left the kitchen. Figuring that he’d best stay put — it may have electricity but who knows what things were in a freak’s house? — Dudley sat down and poured three cups of tea. He was just investigating the fridge for milk when his mother and Hestia came in.
“Duddy!” Mummy wrapped her arms around him just as he was turning to put the milk on the table.
“Petunia, you sit down and have a cup of tea; it’s fresh. Then we’ll take you two upstairs and sort out the bedrooms. I thought I’d put you and Vernon in the master bedroom. My father kept it magic-free out of deference to my mother. It has its own bathroom, too, that links through to my mother’s private sitting room, which I thought you and Vernon could have for your own. Dedalus has moved into my sister’s old room; I’ve stayed in mine; there’s a bathroom in between that Dad charmed years ago when we were kids. Dudley is up in the attic schoolroom, and will have the attic bathroom to himself. That’s not been charmed the way mine has.”
Petunia nodded and sipped her tea.
“We can work out house rules and things once Vernon and Dedalus arrive. Shall we go up now? I’ll put a Warming Charm on the tea for them.”
Dudley waited for his mother before following Hestia out of the room, collecting both his and Mummy’s bags before climbing up the stairs. Hestia winked before flicking her wand at Mummy’s suitcase so it was really light too.
“Petunia, that’s your room on the left, Dedalus is in the corner, and I’m in here. Dudley, you’re up another flight. The schoolroom is in the attic.” Dudley dropped Mummy’s suitcase just inside her door and carried on up the stairs. There were three doors at the top. He heard someone coming up the stairs behind him.
“You’re on the right. The door in the middle is your bathroom.”
Dudley opened the door and looked in. It was all pink with a few desks in one corner and a bed in another.
“It hasn’t been changed since my sister and I moved out into the rooms downstairs. Then we used it for classes until we went to Hogwarts and then it was a guest room when friends came home with us for the holidays. Figure out what you want and we can change the colour scheme if you like.”
“I’ll just leave you to settle in and go check on your mother.” Hestia left the room shutting the door behind her. Dudley sat down on the pink covered bed and looked around again before falling onto his back and closing his eyes against the pink.
His father was not adapting well to half-wizarding life. That first day he had heard his outrage from the top of the house. Dad had not been pleased to find the house wasn’t a normal one. Dudley hadn’t been able to make out what he had been saying but the sound was loud and scary.
He had only ever seen his father that angry twice before. When Harry has escaped out his window, and the year after when Aunt Marge had been blown up like a balloon. Dudley had stayed upstairs avoiding it all until the next morning. Instead of going down, he had rearranged his room, putting the bed underneath the window and the desks where they could have a telly on them and still be seen from the bed. That Hestia witch had said there was one around here somewhere and Dudley meant to find it.
He’d had a shock when he’d investigated the bathroom next to his room. He’d been about to squeeze his spots after cleaning his teeth when a voice had come up out of nowhere. “Oh, I wouldn’t do that; you’ll just make them worse.”
Dudley had been frightened out of his mind and ran out of the bathroom before the owner of the voice could show himself. He snickered at how scared he had been. Hestia had mentioned off-hand at breakfast (one bowl of cereal with milk) the next morning, that the mirror in the attic bathroom was nosy, but to just tell it to butt out and it should hold its tongue. If it was a problem, she would come up and hex it silent for him.
Daddy spat out his tea in anger at that and then yelled for ages, but by the time Dudley had finished his breakfast, he’d quieted down to muttering about unnatural freaks and talking mirrors needing to be smashed.
Daddy had calmed down a bit since that first day, but not by much, He still muttered over breakfast. His mother was doing much better although she had been horrified at the kitchen; it was all so old. No microwave, an Aga, not a proper electric stove top or gas oven, and no electric beater. Dedalus and Hestia had assured her that they would be on hand to cast Beating Spells whenever she needed it, but Mummy hadn’t taken them up on it yet. She insisted on doing the cooking for everyone, lest some unnaturalness spill into the food. So all the cakes she’d made so far had been flat from lack of beating. Dudley had complained; he didn’t like flat cakes. Mummy said it was all so her little Diddikins was safe but Dudley would rather have good cakes. Harry said that Hestia and Dedalus were fine and it was only a little beating and she would be there. The freaks wouldn’t try and slip anything in while she was watching. Mummy was just being silly.