Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter depicted in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
No profit is being made off this story. It is for entertainment purposes only.
Harry wandered into the kitchen to inspect the rather long list of chores he knew would be waiting for him. He was not disappointed. He had just read number thirty-seven, alphabetise the spice rack, when the house shook. Dudley made his first appearance of the day quite earlier than normal by coming down the stairs much louder than Harry had descended earlier.
Far from scared of his rather large cousin, Harry had more of a healthy respect for the amount of bodily harm he could inflict. After all, Dudley had become junior champion heavyweight boxer at his school, Smelting, year before last. This, in itself, resulted in a sense of wariness on Harry's part.
Dudley had, in any case, been kicked off the boxing team after a spot of trouble he had got himself into - all of which was hush-hush and Harry was not supposed to know about it. Besides, Harry had met fear face to face in the form of Lord Voldemort, and Dudley was not, in his opinion, a worthy enough adversary to be feared. This did not mean that he was overjoyed to be spending the next two days in his cousin's charge, however.
Catching sight of the dark haired teenager, Dudley stalked over to him with a menacing, yet equally wary look on his face. Dudley had learned the hard way not to provoke Harry, for he knew very well what his cousin was capable of and also knew that Harry's wand was never far away these days. Beside, Harry was not the puny weakling that he had been. Five years of Hogwarts meals, strenuous Defence training, and trips up and down the castle stairs had shown itself in Harry's physique. No longer was he the puny, small boy that made such an easy target. While still thin and lanky, Harry was now almost as tall as Dudley and his body had begun to fill out with defined muscles, as opposed to the flab that stuck to Dudley's bones.
"Mum and Dad left me in charge," he stated, hesitantly.
"So?" Harry replied, raising his eyebrow defiantly. He refused to allow Dudley to push him around.
"I'm having some friends over," he said, narrowing his eyes in such a way that Harry was strongly reminded of his uncle.
"Yes, I was told that Ickle Duddikins is having a little 'tea' party. And your point is….?"
"Stay out of our way, Potter, or I'll…" Dudley threatened.
"Or you'll what, Dudley? What do you fancy you can do to me?" Harry taunted, resting his hand over his pocket where his wand was hidden.
"I know that you can't use magic outside of that school of yours, or you'll be expelled," Dudley stated with a satisfied smirk. "That means you can do absolutely nothing to me. I have the power here, and you'll do as you're told."
"Yeah, you think so?" Harry said casually, drawing his wand and lightly polishing it on his overly-large shirt. "You may be right… for now. But this time next year will be a different story. I'll be a legal adult and allowed to use magic outside of school. I know a lot of really good jinxes and curses that I'd just love to demonstrate for you. It'd make that piggy tail of yours look like primary school stuff, if you catch my meaning." Harry was amused to see Dudley's large round eyes widen almost to eyebrow level and knew that he had made his point.
"Fine," he conceded angrily. "But stay out of our way. And another thing… if you breathe a word of anything you see to Mum and Dad, your little magic stick won't help you when I get through with you. Got it?"
Wondering what Dudley was up to, Harry just shrugged his shoulders and pushed past his cousin. He needed some air.
Sitting on the back patio in the garden, a privilege that he rarely got with his aunt and uncle around, Harry closed his eyes and let the warmth of the new sun wash over him.
He had a bad feeling about this weekend. Funnily enough, for once his feelings of dread had less to do with Voldemort and more to do with this gathering that Dudley was hosting.
Harry knew the boys that Dudley hung out with and he also knew the reputation that they had made for themselves as the neighbourhood bullies and vandals. Dudley and his gang were quite well known for picking on and beating up younger kids, destroying public property, and meeting at other people's houses to smoke and get drunk…all under the noses of their doting parents. His aunt and uncle really had no clue when it came to their 'Ickle Duddikins'.
"Wotcher, Harry! Why so glum?" a voice said out of nowhere right behind his left ear, startling Harry so much that he jumped and banged his knee on the patio table where he had been lounging.
Looking around he was relieved to come face to face with Nymphadora Tonks, an Auror and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Today her hair was bright green, short, and spiky, but longer on one side than the other. Various earrings and body piercings adorned her ears, nose, and belly button, which was visible because of the cropped tank top and low-cut hip-hugger jeans that she was wearing under her vibrant, open robes.
"Tonks! Don't sneak up on me like that! You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Harry yelled, rubbing his sore knee.
"Sorry, Harry. You just looked like you needed a bit of a shock to break you out of that funk you seem to be in just now."
"Maybe," Harry grumbled. "But next time warn me. I could have hexed you, as jumpy as I've been lately."
"With what? I've got your wand," she smiled triumphantly, brandishing the wooded stick that had become an extension of Harry in the five short years that he had owned it and twirling it between her fingers like a baton.
"How'd you manage that?" asked Harry, disappointed with himself that he hadn't noticed and reaching to retrieve it from the petite woman as she sat down across from him.
"Auror's secret," she said slyly.
"I was under the impression that you were dead clumsy," he grumbled.
"All the more impressive, isn't it? Seriously, though… a herd of hippogriffs could have trampled by and you probably wouldn't have noticed. What's up?"
Instead of answering her, Harry took a few minutes to appraise her current state of dress. "You're looking very rebellious today," he observed.
"So I am," she admitted. "And you're avoiding the question."
"All right, fine," Harry sighed, slightly irritated. Tonks always seemed to be able to cut to the chase. She wasn't known for her tact or subtlety after all. "Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon went away for the weekend leaving Dudley in charge of me. Happy?"
"Your oaf of a cousin? In charge?" Tonks whistled softly. "No wonder you're looking glum. I've seen what he and his gang get up to when they think no one is looking."
"I have a huge pile of housework to do, and Dudley is having 'tea' with his cronies this afternoon here at the house. Welcome to the joys of my life at Privet Drive." His voice dripped with bitter sarcasm.
"Tea, huh?" Tonks laughed. "The only tea I bet they'll be drinking will be laced with vodka!" Harry would have laughed along with her, but his heart wasn't in it.
Tonks became thoughtful. "Does Dumbledore know that your aunt and uncle are out of town, Harry?"
"No," he said sharply. "And I don't want him to, either."
"Why not?" Tonks asked, confused by his tone.
"Dumbledore's got enough on his mind without having to worry about me," Harry said firmly. This, however, was not the full truth. Despite his promise to keep Harry in the loop, Dumbledore had yet to communicate with him beyond the conversation after Sirius' death and brief messages sent through others in the Order. Harry didn't know what he had expected, but certainly it was more than this!
"Dumbledore does care about you Harry," Tonks said gently, reaching over to put a hand on his arm. "We all do."
"I know," Harry said grudgingly, eyes downcast. "But I can't help but feel that there are things I should be doing…." Harry wished he could say more but, as far as he knew, no one outside of he and Dumbledore was aware of the contents of the prophecy.
'…And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…'
A tense silence followed his outburst. Unaware that a dark cloud had settled over his face and that his jaw had visibly clenched, Tonks interrupted his thoughts. "Is there something you're not telling me, Harry?"
"No," he answered, forcing himself back to the present. "No, I'm fine. Probably tired, that's all." He wasn't fine, but he was not about to admit that to her.
"If you ever need to talk, I'm here," she said sympathetically. "You know, I miss him too."
Harry looked up sharply. She thought he was thinking of Sirius! The thought of his godfather caused his heart to constrict painfully. He was at a loss for what to say, but knew he had to say something, so he muttered, "Yeah, maybe."
She seemed satisfied with that answer and said brightly, "I best be getting back to guard duty. Moody would have a seizure if he saw me sitting here soaking up the sun instead of watching out for dark wizards and the like. You know… Constant-"
"-Vigilance!" Harry finished for her. "Yes, I know." He smiled a true smile at her efforts to cheer him up. "How long will you be around?" he asked absently, part of him still lost in his gloomy thoughts.
"Dunno," she sighed. "Mundungus is supposed to come relieve me around noon, but hard to tell when that will be. Figgy heard him making a deal with some bloke down the street the other day. Something about a flock of owls… I don't think I really want to know, though. Haven't seen hide nor hair of him since. If I was Dumbledore I wouldn't trust him with a flobberworm, much less the Boy-Who-Lived. Then again, you have a knack for taking care of yourself, anyways, I think," she said with a wink.
"Yeah, right," Harry said sarcastically. "I'm lucky that way. It's nice to have a talent for surviving trouble when I find myself in it so often."
She laughed. "Speaking of trouble, here comes that cousin of yours. I'd better get back to my post. Take care Harry!" And with that she promptly Disapparated with a soft pop.
"Who was that?" Dudley demanded, looking down at Harry who was busy lounging in the chair, his eyes half closed from the brightness of the sun.
"Who? I don't see anyone," Harry said innocently, a picture of mock perplexityon his thin face.
"That strange woman with the green hair. I've seen her here before and at the train station when we picked you up a few weeks ago, although she always seems to have a different hairstyle every time I see her. She's one of your kind, isn't she? Ooh… Dad would have a conniption if he knew!" he said gleefully, rubbing his hands together.
"But you're not going to tell him, are you Dud, or I might have to just remember a few things I'm supposed to forget, right?" Harry replied coolly.
"Right…," Dudley said slowly, seeming to take great effort in agreeing with him.
"So what's on the agenda for today? Got any ten year olds to terrorise, or will it just be the usual mayhem and mania?" Harry asked.
"I'm having some friends over around two," Dudley said stiffly. "So keep out of our way or I might just have to rearrange you face."
"Fine, fine… No problem, Big D.," Harry said unconcerned. "Why would I want to interrupt your boring little party anyway? Sounds really dull, if you ask me." He purposely goaded his cousin because he had a feeling this approach might get a reaction. He was not disappointed.
"Shows what you know, Potter," Dudley snorted. "Bet you and your friends have never done half the things that we get up to at our parties. Bunch of namby-pamby weirdoes wouldn't know fun if it smacked them in the face!"
"Well, now. Unless I know what exactly it is you're talking about we'll never know, now will we?" Harry replied, drumming his fingers on the glass tabletop in mock boredom, his curiosity piqued despite his best intentions. Just what did 'normal' Muggle teenagers do for fun? Then again, was Dudley really a normal teenager?
"Tell you what," Dudley said with a suspicious-looking smirk. "Why don't you hang out with us and find out? That way if Mum or Dad finds out you'll be in as much trouble as me, if not more. I can always blame it on you…" he said, seeming to think out loud. "They'd be easy to convince, considering how much they hate you."
"Thanks for that lovely invitation, Dud," Harry said, dripping with sarcasm. "But why would I want to hang out with you and a bunch of bully Muggles whose main ambition is to cause me bodily harm? Do you think I'm crazy or just stupid?"
"Ah, well…Okay," Dudley shrugged. Turning to go, he muttered under his breath, "Would've expected as much coming from a 'fraidy-cat, weirdo like you. What, with your nightmares and all…"
"What did you say?" Harry said dangerously, through clenched teeth.
Dudley spun around. "I called you scared, Potter. 'Fraidy-cat… chicken," he taunted. "You may be a big bad wizard, but I don't think you could hang one night with my crowd. We're manlier than you'll ever hope to be!"
Feeling in his gut that this was a bad idea, Harry nevertheless was powerless to stop himself. "Tell you what, Big D," he said through clenched teeth. "You and your cronies lay off me for one night and I'll take you up on that bet. I'm sure I'll have no problem 'hanging' with you, as long as it doesn't involve beating up on innocent children."
"If I agree, will you promise not to use magic on me ever again?" Dudley asked a little too quickly, an odd gleam in his eye.
"Tell you what. If you and your friends lay off me for the rest of the summer and don't put the blame on me for this little party of yours, then I'll promise I won't hex you once I turn seventeen."
"You wouldn't dare!" Dudley yelled furiously, but Harry could see the worry in his eyes.
"After everything you've done to me over the years, do you really think I won't? I've lain awake at night dreaming of the things I could do for revenge. Ever thought what you'd look like as a rubbish bin?" Harry almost laughed at the look of pure terror that crossed Dudley's fat face. He let this threat sink in before he continued.
"But I'm willing to let bygones be bygones" he said generously, "if you agree to never lay a finger on me again. And that goes for your friends as well. I just want to be left alone. I have bigger problems than you and your Muggle henchmen, and I don't fancy wasting my energy watching my back for you lot. Do we have a deal?" Harry said, holding out his hand in truce.
"You mean, if I promise to leave you alone, you promise to leave me alone?" Dudley asked suspiciously, looking at Harry's outstretched hand in barely disguised fear. "Does that go for your freak friends too?"
"Yes, that's what I'm saying. I promise not to hex you unless I'm defending myself. I may be bored, Dudley, but I'm not stupid. I can't control what my friends do, but I promise to not let them do anything to you on purpose, if I can help it. I didn't know about the Ton Tongue Toffee. Fred and George did that all on their own."
"After tonight we stay away from each other and, as long as you keep your fists to yourself, I'll keep my wand in my pocket. Deal?" he asked again, thrusting his hand forward and practically daring Dudley to take him up on his offer. He had a feeling that this deal could backfire on him but at the moment he didn't really care. Anything to help him get through this summer would be better than his current situation.
Dudley hesitated before shaking, but he finally met Harry's outstretched hand with a firm handshake of his own.
"Deal," Dudley said tightly, gripping his cousin's hand harder than necessary.
Harry, despite his curiosity about what the night would bring, had a sinking feeling he may have just made a deal with the devil.