Dudley looked despondently over some colour charts. He’d got sick of the pink in his room and had timidly approached Dedalus about painting his room. He in turn had sent him to Hestia saying that as it was her house, his, Dedalus’, opinion didn’t matter much. Dudley had done so and was now lying in the grass out the back door trying to decide on a colour. He had it down to a white, like Mummy had done his room in Little Whinging, a pale green and a dark blue, but he couldn’t decide which he wanted.
Dedalus came out of the house floating two glasses of what looked like grapefruit and orange juice ahead of him.
Dudley nodded and reached for one of the glasses hovering in front of him.
“How are the colours coming? Picked one out yet?”
Dudley shook his head as he took a large gulp of orange juice, then spat it out immediately.
“There’s something wrong with that juice. You’re trying to poison me,” he yelled as he jumped up, backing away.
“Calm down, Dudley, no one is poisoning anyone. I poured both glasses the same and my pumpkin juice is fine.”
“Pumpkin juice? PUMPKIN juice! There’s no such thing. There’s carrot juice and tomato juice and orange and apple and even raspberry and cranberry but no PUMPKIN juice.”
“You can’t get it in your world then? Splendid!” Dedalus looked overjoyed. “I do love learning about Muggles. Pumpkin juice is what your cousin gets everyday at school. I assure you it’s quite safe to drink.”
Dudley eyed him carefully then took another sip. Dedalus waved his wand and cleaned up the spat-out juice. Pumpkin juice wasn’t so bad when you know that was what you were drinking.
“So, what colours were you thinking of?”
Dudley picked up the colour charts from the grass. “This is what I have at home —” he pointed to an off-white, “— but I like this green and this blue, though that might be a little dark.”
“Let’s go and have a look then. Drink up!” Dudley drank his pumpkin juice and followed Dedalus. He wasn’t quite sure what Dedalus meant by having a look. Maybe he wanted to look at them inside in the room, to look at them in different light. Colours did look different in different lights.
Dudley reached the top landing outside his room a bit out of breath. Dedalus was waiting for him. “After you.” Dudley stepped inside, Dedalus following. “Do you have those colour cards?” Dudley handed them over wordlessly. Dedalus pointed at a green. “This one?”
“No, the one to the left,” Dudley answered.
“First a blank canvas,” Dedalus waved his wand and said something Dudley didn’t quite catch and the wall in front of them turned white. Repeating the action, Dedalus soon had all the walls and the roof white. Dudley held up the white card to the wall. It was the exact same white as the one he was looking at.
“What do you think?” Dedalus asked. “A bit bland?”
Dudley nodded dumbly.
“Shall we try the blue or green next?”
“Righto,” Dedalus touched his wand to the green colour square and a few waves of his wand and simultaneous mumbles later the walls were all green.
Dudley looked around him. He liked the colour but it wasn’t quite right. “Can you do the blue?”
Dedalus nodded, pointed at the blue square questioningly and on Dudley’s nod waved his wand, changing one wall. Before he could carry on to the next wall, he dropped the colour card. Picking it up, he changed all the walls. The blue alone was a bit dark but the pause while Dedalus had picked up the card had given Dudley an idea.
“Can you leave those walls —” he pointed at the vertical walls, “— blue, and turn those ones — ” this time pointing at the ones that were on an incline, perhaps better termed the ceiling, “— green?”
Dedulas was already waving his wand as he nodded and in moments the walls were all the colours Dudley wanted. The lower parts of the wall under the eaves, and the wall with the door in it were all blue, the eaves and the vertical walls framing the dormer windows were green. Even the bits behind the bed and schoolroom stuff in the corner had changed.
“This is it; I like this,” Dudley looked around the room approvingly.
Dedalus looked happily at his wandwork. “I’ll call Hestia up, shall I?” he asked, taking his leave of the room.
Dudley sat on the bed looking around. He would still have to do something about the bedspread. It was still pink. He heard Hestia coming up the stairs and looked at the door. “Can I keep them?”
Hestia was nodding approvingly. “I’ll buy the paint tomorrow. Do you prefer brushes or rollers?”
“Paint... but what for? It’s already done.”
“Those colour charms will wear off in a few hours. If we want it to last, we have to use paint. It can be your project for the remainder of summer.”
“I don’t paint. That’s Harry’s job.”
“Your room, you paint it… Or we can leave it pink, if you prefer?”
“No, I’ll do it,” Dudley said quickly. He didn’t want to live in a pink room anymore.
“Good,” Hestia smiled. “Brushes or rollers?”
“I don’t know, do I? I’ve never painted before,” Dudley snapped, then clapped his hands over his mouth. He didn’t want to get on Hestia’s bad side. He didn’t want another tail.
The paint, with rollers and a couple of brushes, were at the bottom at the stairs then next day when Dudley came down to a late breakfast. At the seat he usually sat in were a pamphlet on the importance of primers and multiple thin coats and a book titled Home Decorating for Dummies (a Reference for the Rest of Us!).
“You said you didn’t know how to paint,” Hestia said, nodding at the books.
Dudley spent the morning reading the section on painting in the book and in the afternoon moved all the furniture to the middle of the room and started on the primer coat. It took three more days to finish with Hestia or Dedalus coming up each evening to cast a speed-dry charm before dinner, and a fresh-air charm after dinner.
The day after Dudley had finished painting, he came down to breakfast to find the local newspaper at his place folded open to the Positions Vacant section and a pamphlet for the local comprehensive school placed on top of that.
“You’re going to want to get out of the house at some point —” Dedalus explained, “— and maybe make some friends. If we are going to keep you safe, then we need to know where you are. If you are at one place like school or work we can charm the sites so you can come and go safely.
“But I don’t want to get a job.”
“Then go to school.”
“My son is not going to that common school. If he’s to go to school he can go back to Smeltings.” Mummy looked shocked at the idea of Dudley attending a comprehensive school, not a public one.
“He’s not safe at Smeltings and the local school is very good. Hestia has a few Muggle friends in the area and asked them about it. She said it had a very good report from the Muggle authorities and was oversubscribed. We can get Dudley in with a few Befuddlement Spells, but he can’t go back to Smeltings.” Dedalus was completely unruffled at Petunia’s outburst.
“I will inspect it. But if it’s not good enough you will have to find somewhere else. Only the best will do for my Dudley.” With that, Petunia considered the matter settled and turned back to where she was kneading bread on the counter. Dudley lowered his eyes to his breakfast and Hestia took the chance to slip the daily ration of calming potion in Vernon’s tea while none of the Dursleys were watching
“Uh... Miss Hestia?”
“Just Hestia is fine, Dudley. What can I do for you?”
“Can I go have a look at this school? Without Mum, I mean.”
“If you like; may I ask why?”
“I...I’m not used to having Mum and Dad around at school and I don’t want the other students to see me with them. No one cool has their parents with them, except on parents' day at Smeltings.”
“I’m not sure that’s the best reason, but I will take you. It’ll give you a chance to form your own opinion. We can go now, if you like?”
“I’ll get my shoes.” He turned to go upstairs then turned back. “Miss Hestia, uh... thanks... for the paint and everything,” Dudley blurted before taking himself out of the room as fast as possible.
Dudley came home from school determined to go back to school. He had stopped at the job office too and all he could find was being a dishwasher. The pay and hours were terrible. And there were a lot of pretty girls at school too signing up for their A-level courses.
Vernon took the decision calmly, which Dudley found odd but didn’t think anymore of. Mummy didn’t like the idea of her ‘precious Diddikins’ at such a ‘common vulgar school’ but gave in to whatever Dudley wanted. He was going back to school.