A/N: And now for the final chapter. I hope you enjoy this conclusion to my story and will let me know what you think. My pre-betas Mutt n Feathers, RSS, Rebecca Ripple, Manatoc Fox and Mistress_Lrigtar helped a lot with this chapter and as always, their suggestions made it better. As always, thank you to my beta, Aggiebell, whose heated comments about Petunia's attitudes towards Dudley's magic made me smile. Happy reading, everyone!
The one thing Dudley Dursley had never fully become used to during his stay with Hestia and Dedalus was the fact that people in the Wizarding world communicated and travelled via their fireplaces. It felt very strange to him to be standing near Mrs Figg's fireplace waiting for his guests instead of the front door, but Harry had said last night that it was easier for everyone to come to his house rather than venture into a Muggle neighbourhood on their own. So here he was, a hand shoved deep in his pocket, nervously clutching his wand. It felt good to hold it, even if he didn't have an inkling of what to do with it if he had to defend himself. He smiled at the ridiculous notion that he could hurt someone by levitating them or changing the colour of their clothing.
The flames in the grate suddenly turned bright green. Dudley jumped back a few feet as first Harry and then his girlfriend, Ginny, strode out and made room for three more people, two of whom came together. The reason for this was soon apparent, for the girl clutching the other held a pair of crutches and only had one foot sticking out from under her long skirt. Dudley tried hard not to stare at her.
"Aunt Petunia, Dudley, Mrs Figg, these are Morag MacDougal, Sally-Ann Perks and Vicky Frobisher," Harry said, indicating each of the new people with his hand as he spoke. "Ladies, please meet my aunt, Petunia Dursley, my cousin, Dudley Dursley, and Mrs Figg, our hostess."
"Welcome, everyone," Mrs Figg said as everyone murmured variations of 'How do you do?' "Please come to the lounge. I have set out a light lunch in there."
When everyone was settled and had a cup of tea, Mum said, "I'm not sure what Harry has told you about my son, but Dudley has recently decided that he is an untrained wizard. I'll let him tell you what he has been experimenting with in a moment. What the three of you are here for today is for us to choose one of you to be his tutor. I realize none of you have a curriculum vitae to show me—" She broke off as Vicky Frobisher and the other two witches handed her pieces of parchment.
Morag said pointedly, "Mrs Dursley, the three of us are seeking employment, which means that we are prepared to present ourselves in a fitting manner for interview. That means all three of us brought our CVs for you to look over. Also, if you are to employ one of us, we will need to have a working relationship with Dudley and you. That means you will need to speak us without condescension. All of us have passed our N.E.W.T.s with either Outstanding or Exceeds Expectations marks and are fully qualified witches. If you have a problem with the fact that we are witches, then today's visit has been a waste of our time."
"I am sorry, Miss MacDougal," Mum said stiffly and Dudley knew she was making an effort to be civil. "I realize that if Dudley is to succeed you will need to communicate with me from time to time and that my attitude has a significant part in the success of the enterprise."
Silence settled over the group and for a moment, nobody said anything.
Dudley finally broke the silence, "Mum wants me to show you what I can do, but I'll just tell you instead." He cleared his throat. "I can levitate things like pens and plates just by thinking about making them float. I can make a bed make itself. I can also change the colour of objects. Mr Diggle, Dedalus, said I was doing accidental magic and that there were commands to deliberately make my magic work. I really want to learn those commands."
"We can teach you the incantations for both of those spells, Dudley," Vicky said. "But if you really want to join the Wizarding world, you'll need to know more than just spells. Living with magic is a culture unto itself; our history, while it parallels Muggle history, is unique because it encompasses the histories of other beings. Wizards also have their own currency, medicines and leisure activities, and because Muggle electronic devices don't work in magical places, many of us have never been to the cinema, cooked with a microwave or toaster, or entertained ourselves by watching the telly. Could you, in all honesty, give up things like your microwave or your telly?"
Dudley gulped. "Is this an all or nothing sort of thing or have people managed to live as a combination of wizard and Muggle?"
"It can be done," Sally-Ann said. "Wizards do live in Muggle houses and use Muggle appliances. They just have to be careful about how much magic they use and how powerful their spells are. Some Muggle-borns I know have been successful at enchanting electronics like televisions to work in magical houses, but the reception is often limited or unsatisfactory."
"So do you think you could assimilate into our culture?" Vicky asked.
"I'd like to give it a go," Dudley said determinedly. "I did just spend a year without the telly or my computer and it wasn't too bad, so yeah, I think I could."
"We do have the Wizarding Wireless Network," Morag said. "Its programs are a bit old-fashioned, but all the Quidditch matches are broadcast each week and there are music and news stations that play a variety of music and keep us up-to-date with what's happening in the world."
"We had a wireless at the safe house and Dedalus used to listen to the news programs," Dudley said, looking straight at Morag. "I liked the Weird Sisters' music. Do you?"
She smiled at him. "Oh, yes. They're a great group."
Mum cleared her throat. "Dudley, this isn't a social hour. I would like to continue the interview."
"Yes, Mum," Dudley said, feeling chastised. He really wanted to learn more about Morag. "I'd like to ask Morag one more question."
Mum sighed, sounding impatient. "If you must, Popkin." Dudley glared at his mother and she looked away quickly.
"I realize this has nothing to do with you being my possible tutor," he said, addressing Morag, "but what happened to your leg?"
Morag looked almost relieved to have the subject out in the open. "An Acromantula, a huge spider, attacked me during the Battle of Hogwarts. I managed to Stun it and was able to escape to safety. The damage was so extensive that Madam Pomfrey had to amputate just below the knee. I'm still in rehab, both magical and Muggle, but felt that doing some tutoring would get me back into the world a bit sooner."
"What subjects did you pass?" Dudley asked, now able to look Morag in the eyes.
She rattled off her list of qualifications before asking, "Dudley, I was told this house is a temporary home for the two of you. Do you know enough about the magical world to get to and from places without resorting to Muggle means?"
Dudley felt his face heat up. "No," he replied uncomfortably. "I don't even know how to drive a car. Why do you ask?"
"My condition and your inability to travel magically may be a problem because traveling is quite difficult for me at the moment," said Morag. "I don't travel well because of my crutches, which would mean that you would need to come to Manchester for your lessons with me."
"Do you mean to tell me that you're unwilling to go to your place of employment?" Mum asked, sounding incredulous. Out of the corner of his eye, Dudley caught Harry and Ginny exchanging knowing glances.
"Yes, Mrs Dursley," Morag stated. "It's because I am still recovering from my injury. There will probably be times when I may have to cancel lessons at the last minute because of it."
"I see," Mum said, sliding Morag's CV to the bottom of the pile, summarily dismissing her as someone she wanted to work with. Dudley had seen her do this to other people and threw a sympathetic glance at Morag. Surprisingly, Morag smiled at him and shrugged as if to say, 'I didn't think she'd like that idea." Dudley smiled back at her.
"Mrs Dursley, what are you prepared to pay per hour to have Dudley tutored? I mean, he seems to be the equivalent of a beginning first year," Vicky Frobisher asked, sounding a bit aloof.
"Minimum wage," Mum answered quickly.
"Is that in pounds or Galleons?"
"Is there a difference?"
"A big one. The goblins' exchange rate is £5 to the Galleon. If you're only going to pay £2.50 an hour—which isn't even the minimum for eighteen- to twenty-year-olds—it translates to eight Sickles and fourteen Knuts. That's much less than I want to work for, Mrs Dursley, considering how much preparation will need to go into making up Dudley's lessons."
As his mother sniffed an "I see," Dudley decided he didn't like Vicky at all. She reminded him of his least favourite teacher at Smeltings who had no patience for students who weren't mathematically inclined like he was.
He leaned over to his mum and gently tugged Sally-Ann's CV out of her hand. He scanned the page until he found what he sought. "Sally-Ann, can I call you Sally?" he asked, looking at her. When she nodded, he said, "Sally, you list two Wizarding schools on here. Why did you switch?"
Sally said, "My parents fled Britain because my father is a wizard and my mother a Muggle. They were afraid the Death Eaters would target our family because of my mother, so he applied for a job in France and we moved half-way through my fourth year at Hogwarts." She looked at Harry as she said, "I'm sorry I didn't get to see you win the Triwizard Tournament, Harry. You flew so well in the first task and saved Fleur Delacour's sister in the second that I wished I had been there for the third."
Harry looked sad as he said, "No, you don't. It wasn't much fun for anyone when I brought back the news of Voldemort's return."
"You're wrong, Harry," Sally said. "I heard about the DA and what you and my friends went through in sixth and seventh years and it doesn't seem fair that I was safe at Beauxbatons when all of you were dealing with a madman and his followers."
Harry stared at his teacup as he said, "I'm glad you and your family were safe. Everyone who stayed behind suffered in one way or another at the hands of the Death Eaters."
"Thank you, Harry," she said. "Unfortunately, I sometimes feel cheated out of being able to do my part for my school and country by not participating in the battle."
"Actually, you shouldn't feel that way, Sally," Ginny said, entering the conversation for the first time. "