Disclaimer: These characters and this world belong to Ms. Rowling.
Petunia felt a deep dread as she walked down the hall with
Dudley. A man and a woman stood outside a door that probably led to
Harry’s room. The woman, who looked vaguely familiar, had a very fierce
look on her face. Petunia struggled to keep herself from shivering.
Dursley, I’ve heard so much about you, but I can’t say it has been
anything good.” The woman’s greeting was sharp and it made Petunia
wince despite her best efforts not to. She couldn’t think of how to
respond to that. But she didn’t have much time to consider her options,
as the woman did not relent. “My sons picked Harry up from your house
four years ago.” She had a slight smile on her face, probably knowing
that what she was referring to was not lost on Petunia. “I’m
Molly Weasley, my son Ron is friends with Harry.”
“Yes, I um,
recall that evening.” Petunia said, at a loss for a better response.
Deep down she had known what they’d done to Harry was wrong but at the
time she didn’t care. She couldn’t look bad to the neighbors since no
one knew, but how much did this woman know? Enough, it seemed.
She felt guilty because she was guilty, she had done all those things
and now this woman seemed to be just warming up for a crucifixion.
Ginny was reading one of her school books when the door opened and Remus poked his head in.
Ginny? Would you mind coming out here for a minute?” She nodded in
response but turned to Harry after Remus had closed the door again.
okay, Ginny.” Harry said with a resigned shrug, “I’m used to it by
now.” Ginny growled softly at the truth of Harry’s statement. At
least she saw him smile a bit.
“Don’t worry,” she reassured him, “I’ll tell you everything.”
smiled as he watched Ginny leave. She was protective just like her mum,
except when Ginny did it, it always came off as so cute, especially
when she made that soft growl. It reminded him of a baby tiger. Of
course, he would never tell her that for fear of what she’d do to him.
shut the door softly behind her and turned to give Remus a piece of her
mind about all this secrecy. Harry had a right to some autonomy for
Merlin’s sake. Her mouth had even been partly open as she turned but it
quickly snapped shut at the sight that greeted her. The monstrosity of
a boy in front of her could only be one person.
“You have got to be joking!” Ginny exclaimed loudly.
“Now, Ginny,” her dad began, “I know what you must be thinking...”
Ginny whirled on her dad. “Are both of you part of this?” She raised her voice even louder as she acknowledged her mum too.
“Ginny...” Remus said, raising a hand to try and calm her down.
Ginny said. “You will not ‘Ginny’ me. This is ridiculous. Have you
learned nothing yet? Can you really be this thick?” She could barely
control her anger at this point. The absolute nerve of these people to show up here, after all they’d done to Harry.
came to thank Harry,” Dudley said in a barely audible voice. Ginny
whirled around to face him, some of her long hair swinging around in
front of her shoulder. She stared at Dudley for a long moment,
narrowing her eyes, daring him to look away. When he held her gaze, if
somewhat fearfully, she let out a short, soft sigh.
back inside and you will come in only when and if I tell you; is that
understood?” She was now staring daggers into Dudley and he nodded
timidly. Ginny turned and walked back through the door without another
word or glance to anyone. This time she wasn’t so careful when she shut
Harry looked up quickly at the sound of the door, slightly surprised.
is it?” he asked, even more puzzled when he saw the look on her face.
Ginny had sat down in a chair by the bed and was staring at the floor,
taking deep breaths. He knew enough to give her a moment before asking
“They did it again, Harry. They made a
decision without talking to you and they waited until it was too late
to tell you about it,” she said.
“What are you talking about, Ginny? Just tell me what it is.”
Ginny seemed to be gathering her resolve before she took a deep breath.
“Your aunt and cousin are outside the door right now. Apparently, Dudley wants to talk to you,” Ginny finally said.
who had certainly not been expecting this, took a moment to process
what Ginny had just told him. But after a few moments, he couldn’t
contain himself and started laughing. Ginny didn’t look like she was
joking but she was a decent actress. Though he had to admit, the
situation was pretty farfetched to be believable.
“You guys didn’t really think I was going to fall for that did you?” he asked, still laughing.
“Harry, really, I wish I were joking but I’m not. They’re both really out there,” Ginny said.
was the tone of Ginny’s voice that caught his attention, it was anger
and sadness swirled together. He stopped laughing abruptly.
“What?” His voice caught in his throat a little and half the word almost didn’t come out.
tell them to leave, Harry. I didn’t know they were coming either. They
probably didn’t tell you because they figured you would say no. But I
told no one to come in unless I told them it was alright.” Ginny’s face
was getting redder and redder as if just speaking of the situation
could make her even angrier.
Harry, on the other hand, was
still trying to believe it. His brain was stuck between being furious
at people for thinking they could make this decision for him and
absolutely shocked that Aunt Petunia and Dudley were right outside the
door...in a wizard hospital.
He needed to push away his
feeling of anger. He pictured shutting it all in a box and locking it
up with chains, locks and charms. He would open it later and unleash it
on a meeting with anyone who had ever done this to him.
he had done that, Harry was slightly shocked to realize how much pain
he was left with. His anger at it had always masked the pain he felt
when people simply refused to respect his right to make decisions for
himself. But now here it was, raw and burning in his lungs. Was he
about to cry? He hoped not, being angry was so much easier.
looked back at Ginny and saw only understanding in her eyes. Of course,
her brothers, her family, always treated her like this, too. She was
forever the baby sister to them, never capable of understanding what
was best for her, always being too young.
And then there was
Dudley. Harry couldn’t forget Dudley was supposedly standing outside
the door, waiting for admittance. Had the attack penetrated the bubble
of ignorance and blind hate he lived in? Harry’s immediate reaction was
not to care. He never wanted to see the Dursleys again in his life and
would just as soon forget their very existence. But he couldn’t ignore
the quiet voice in the back of his mind, curious and demanding, telling
Harry to find out what they wanted. Part of him hated that voice. It
had always been there growing up, telling him that he just had to try
harder for his aunt and uncle to accept him, love him. It was always
there, telling him that he did care what they thought when he tried to convince himself otherwise. It was an unrelenting reminder of rejection and pain.
“He seemed sincere,” Ginny offered, as if sensing Harry’s inner struggle.
focused his attention back on Ginny, wishing he didn’t have to make
this decision. He closed his eyes and with a sigh told her, “Let him
Ginny watched Harry for a moment longer before turning back to the door. Dudley better be sincere, contrite and a whole bunch of other things, or so help her, she would not be responsible for what she did to him.
felt like he was waiting hours for that girl to come back to let him
inside. He was nervous and he didn’t like it. Ever since that attack,
he couldn’t stop replaying it in his mind over again and again. When he
wasn’t doing that, his mind kept throwing random memories of his
childhood with Harry back at him. The more it happened, the more sick
it was making him. He had been so unfair; his parents had been so
unfair. He’d felt confused and unfocused for the last few days. His
whole life he’d used hate and anger to express all feelings and now he
was faced with unfamiliar feelings of guilt, pain and confusion. Was
all this his fault?
The door to Harry’s room opened and the girl stepped out.
don’t know how, but Harry has found it in his heart to allow you to
speak with him. I hope you understand that no matter what Harry feels,
you most certainly do not deserve this opportunity and if you came her
with anything in mind other than to ask for his forgiveness – not that
I think you deserve it – it will be you that needs a room here
and I’ll be certain to make sure it’s a long stay. If nothing else is
certain in your life, this is.” Her voice was not loud as she spoke,
staring directly at Dudley, but it was cold and hard, commanding more
respect than his dad’s loudest of yells. This was a level of
intimidation that, with all his size and punches, he’d never
experienced. It was undeniably effective.
“I understand,” was all Dudley managed to say, reflexively placing his hand on his backside.
stepped aside to let him through, muttering “Don’t say I didn’t warn
you,” as he passed. She looked up as Lupin and Petunia moved to follow
“No,” Ginny said, moving in front of her. “This
isn’t some kind of show. This is Harry’s life and I think there has
been enough…influence from you.”
was standing at the window, staring out at the street below when Dudley
entered. He waited a moment after he heard the door close before
turning around. When he did, Dudley was looking around nervously, his
gaze lingering on the hospital bed.
“Not what you expected?” Harry ventured. Dudley looked at him and shrugged.
“I guess I expected you to be…” Dudley trailed off, looking back at the bed.
well, I’m a pro at getting myself out of the hospital. It’s just
getting myself in that’s the problem,” Harry said before he laughed a
little at this. Not because it was funny, because it wasn’t, but
because it was just so exasperating that he couldn’t help it.
Dudley laughed awkwardly in response but stopped after moment.
“I guess that’s not really that funny,” he said.
no it’s not,” Harry answered. He knew he should help more with the
conversation but he didn’t really care. Dudley had come to him; if he
wanted to say something he should go ahead and say it.
had no idea what to do next. The conversation, if he could even call it
that, had completely stalled. His eyes were searching the room, looking
for something, anything to get it started again.
magazine on a nearby chair caught his eyes. Actually, it wasn’t really
the magazine so much as the moving picture on the front! He took a step
hesitantly forward, leaning his body forward while still trying to
maintain some sense of distance from the foreign object.
watched Dudley examine the Quidditch magazine, half with indifference
and the other half with triumph. They were two very strange feelings to
have at once but he guessed that part of him was not going to let him
believe that something could be gained from their relationship. Not yet
“What’s that?” Dudley finally asked, pointing at the
magazine but not putting his finger any closer than the rest of his
body. Harry thought it almost looked like Dudley thought Victor Krum
was going to fly out and bite him.
“That’s a Quidditch
magazine,” was all Harry said. There had been a time when Harry would
have loved for Dudley to take an interest in something that was part of
Harry’s world, or life for that matter, but that time had long past and
now Harry could only find apathy.
knew this wouldn’t be easy, but he hadn’t realised just how difficult
it would be until he got here. Harry wasn’t helping him a bit. If he
was going to do this, he would have to work at it.
“What’s Quidditch?” Dudley plunged on, hoping to get Harry to loosen up.
“It’s sort of like football but it’s played on broomsticks,” Harry answered.
stared at Dudley for a long moment. He knew, somehow, that he was at a
turning point, not just in this conversation but in their relationship.
If he left his answer at that and kept silent, he might as well tell
Dudley to leave now. If he explained more, he was telling Dudley that
he was willing to work at building – something – probably not
friendship, but a relationship of some sorts. He almost wanted to laugh
out loud at this, his relationship with Dudley coming down to the rules
of Quidditch, the only thing in the Wizarding world that gave him
credit for something he deserved.
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
he opened them he looked straight at Dudley and began to explain the
basics of Quidditch to him and the setup of school teams. It took
a long time and involved a lot of hand motions. Dudley sat and
“Do you play?” Dudley asked when it was all over.
“Yeah, Seeker,” he answered.
“How fast can you go on a broom?” Dudley continued, looking eager to learn more about the sport.
Harry, surprised by Dudley’s interest, walked over and sat down at the small table holding the magazine.
broom I have now is an International Racing broom, it can go up to 150
miles per hour in ten seconds. Being in the air, feeling that free,
it’s brilliant, there’s nothing like it.” Harry got lost in his own
daydream of being back on his broom towards the end there but he
couldn’t help it. He loved flying.
“Bloody hell,” Dudley said,
amazed. He quietly continued after a moment. “It must have been a
nice change after living in that cupboard all those years.”
it might have been said quietly, it smashed through Harry’s daydream
like a sledge hammer. Harry quickly looked at Dudley with sharp and
“Yeah,” Harry replied slowly, “it was.”
Dudley took a moment to collect his nerve before continuing, biting his lip.
done a lot of thinking, Harry. Thinking about how we grew up, about how
you grew up. It wasn’t right. I see that now. I see how I acted
was…horrible. I don’t expect you to forgive me but I wanted you to
know, even if we never see each other again, that I’m sorry for my part
in it. And I’m sorry for my parents’ part in it.”
When Dudley finished, he waited nervously for Harry’s response, afraid of any answer he might get, rejection or acceptance.
spent what seemed like several minutes considering what Dudley had
said. He knew he was on the spot to respond now but he realized that,
by letting Dudley come in the room, by opening up a little to him, he’d
already made up his mind.
Everything was far from being solved
for him and that wasn’t even counting Voldemort. He still had Ginny on
his mind constantly, then there was Remus and everyone else who kept
making decisions for him, not to mention the fact that he was currently
in the hospital after almost getting himself killed. No, things were
far from solved. But Dudley coming to build bridges with him after so
many years, could this be a sign of things to come?
Thinking of Trelawney, he wondered if it was an omen. But still, if
this could happen, something he would have bet his life to be
impossible, then maybe, just maybe, things could work out. He could
have a life beyond Voldemort – maybe even have a future.
given our past, I don’t think we’re going to ever be great friends, but
let’s start with Quidditch and work our way from there, what do you
A/N: *Phew* I survived my first story! I want to
say thanks to everyone who has read (and reviewed!) and for hanging in
there with me through my long updates. I know how I feel when I enjoy
someone’s writing and it’s great to know that others are enjoying
yours. Thank you.
I must especially thank Kokopelli for all his work with me
through numerous revisions and questions. Also to Chris, who didn’t
help with this chapter but lets me take over his computer to write
since mine has become unreliable. And Sherry, for reading through this
chapter and helping me get it posted.