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A Time to Live by ladymblack
Chapter 5 : Chapter 5: Dudley's Adventure
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 17


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Chapter 5: Diagon Alley and Dudley’s Adventure

Sunday morning, Hermione and Ron left to go to Australia to search for her parents and release them from the charm she’d put on them.  Harry and Ginny decided to stay behind so that the new couple could spend some time alone together.  Plus they didn’t want to shock the Grangers too badly with all of these unknown people showing up on their doorstep.

Not knowing when the Burrow would be fully repaired, they decided to have the party there at Grimmauld Place.  Kreacher showed them the ballroom that he had cleaned out for them to use.  He threw himself into helping with all of the party plans.  He suggested food ideas, helped fill out invitations, and kept asking what else he could do to help.  He was delighted that Harry wanted to invite all of the house-elves from Hogwarts to the party as guests.  He was a bit taken aback at first, but Harry told him that they had fought in the battle as well and should therefore join in the celebration.

Monday morning, while they were all lingering over breakfast, Harry suggested that they all go to Diagon Alley.

“We can pick up the things we need for the party,” Harry explained to them.  “Also, I need to go to Gringotts and get all of my finances in order.  Would you come with me, Ginny?”

“Sure, Harry.  I’d love to,” she said.  George said he wasn’t ready to go to Diagon Alley yet and Andromeda said she’d stay home with Teddy, so after breakfast the rest of the Weasleys and Harry Flooed over to the Leaky Cauldron.  The bar was much more crowded than Harry’d ever seen it.  The moment that Harry stood up to brush himself off, the crowd went quiet.  Then there was an uproar and everyone started towards the Weasleys to try to get to Harry.  Everyone was fighting to shake his hand and give him their thanks.

“Oh, dear,” Ginny said, as they tried to make their way to the back of the bar into Diagon Alley.  Harry could hear Tom, the barman, trying to control his patrons behind them.

“Why did I forget my Invisibility Cloak?” Harry groaned.  It was the first time he’d been out in public since the defeat of Voldemort, and he’d forgotten how crazy people could be when it came to him.

Once they’d reached the cobblestone road that was Diagon Alley, the Weasleys tried to form a circle around Harry so that the wizards around them couldn’t see him.  This didn’t quite work though, since the Weasleys were now almost as famous as Harry himself.  At least Ron and Hermione weren’t there as well, Harry thought.  There was no way they would have been able to hide all three of them.  Luckily, they were able to make their way over to Gringotts without too much hassle.  Bill and Ginny walked up to the counter with Harry.  Harry was happy to see Griphook standing there, even if he was grinning somewhat sinisterly.

“Did you bring our dragon back, Mr. Potter?” the goblin asked.

Harry’s mouth hung open in shock and said, “Sorry, but we let it out into the wild.”

“Hmm.  Well, I suppose you want to go see your new vaults now?” was the goblin’s response.  He sighed and said “I’d better take you myself.  The rest of the goblins are a bit afraid of you, to tell the truth.”

Harry then remembered that after he, Ron and Hermione had left, Voldemort had shown up and killed almost everyone in the bank in his rage.  The goblin asked Harry which vault he wished to see first, before taking them down to Sirius’s private vault.  Bill and Ginny agreed to stand outside to allow Harry some privacy when entering for the first time.

Harry noticed that the vault was rather large as he walked in.  There were immense piles of gold and a table that seemed to have some valuable looking pieces on it.  He approached the table to find a letter sitting on it.  Unsure if he should read it, he looked briefly down at it to see who it was addressed to first.

Dear Harry,

If you are reading this it means that I’ve died and you are now of age.  I wish that I could have given all of this to you earlier, but it was your mother’s express wish that you not receive some of these things until you were older.  Sorry, Harry, but even I wouldn’t dare to disobey your mum.

Before they went into hiding they left a few things in my possession for safe-keeping.  There is a set of jewelry that should be right beside this note.  This was your father’s gift to your mother upon their engagement.  It was their wish that you have it someday if anything ever happened to them.  They hoped that you would share it with your one true love.

Next to the jewelry there should be a box of letters.  This was the correspondence between myself, Remus and your parents during their engagement and while they were in hiding.  Please feel free to read these letters.  I hope they will give you some insight into their lives and mine at the time.

I’m sorry to have left you.  I don’t know how much time you and I have had together, but I somehow feel as though it probably wasn’t enough.

Love from your godfather,

Sirius

Harry removed his glasses and wiped his face on his robes.  He opened the box that contained the jewelry to find a necklace, earrings, a bracelet and a beautiful ring.  They were all gold with rubies and emeralds.  The rubies formed countless roses while the emeralds created delicate leaves.  The ring held a large marquise diamond, surrounded by perfect emeralds and rubies.  He thought the pieces were the most beautiful things he’d ever seen.  Deciding to read the letters Sirius had left him later (knowing he wasn’t ready for them yet), he dropped the jewelry case into the box with the letters in it to hide it.  He knew exactly with whom he wanted to share the jewelry, but wanted to present it at the perfect time.

He rejoined Bill and Ginny, with the box under his arm.  Noticing the obvious sign of Harry’s recent tears, Ginny put her arm around him before they walked the short way to the Black vault.  He asked her and Bill to join him, not knowing if they’d find some more of the dark objects they’d found upon first arriving at Grimmauld Place.  They looked around for a few moments at the gold piled around the room, not wanting to touch anything.

At the Potter vault, Bill and Ginny once again offered to stay outside.

It looked similar to Sirius’s vault, but with even more gold stacked along the walls.  Harry approached the table to find yet another note.

Dear Harry,

Your mother and I are heading into hiding with you right now.  We don’t know if we’re going to make it out of this alive.  We’ve left a few things with Sirius just in case.

We’ve both written you letters that you’ll find beside this note in a sealed envelope.  There is also a ring that’s been passed down to me from my mother.  It is said to bear the Peverell coat of arms on it, but it’s hard to see as it’s worn over time.  My mother is supposedly a direct descendent of Ignotus Peverell.  I don’t know how true that is, but she also gave me an invisibility cloak that apparently belonged to him.  Albus Dumbledore has that cloak right now, so you can ask him for it.  I’m sure he’ll be happy to give it to you, as it is a part of your inheritance.  It should come to you on your 17th birthday when you come of age.  Next to the ring should be a large chest.  These are the Potter family jewels to do with as you please.  Share them with your loved ones.

Love,

Dad

Harry laughed at the line about the Invisibility Cloak.  Little did his father know that Dumbledore had given it to him back in his first year.  Still chuckling, Harry tucked the note into a pocket of his robes to join Sirius’s, before snatching up the envelope with his parents’ letters to him and putting it in the letter box from Sirius.  Harry picked up the ring to take a close look at it.  Sure enough Harry recognized the symbol for the Deathly Hallows.  It was just as ornate as the one the Gaunts had had, but not nearly as pretentious-looking, or so Harry thought.  I united the Deathly Hallows.  Right? Harry said to himself before putting the ring on his right hand.  He also picked up the large jewelry box and shrank it down so that it would be easier to carry.

He took one last sweeping look, before joining Bill and Ginny.

“Is there someone that Ginny and I can talk to about organizing everything?” Harry asked Bill.

When they’d reached the foyer again, Bill took them into a small office along with Griphook.

“Ok, I’d like everything from Sirius’s vault to be added to the Potter vault.  Then I want the Black vault searched by some experts.  All dark objects should be destroyed.  Any relics should be given to a museum or whatever.  The remaining gold should be added to the Potter vault as well.  I would like my old vault to be put into the name Theodore Remus Lupin and Andromeda Tonks given full access to it.  Can I also get a spare key to the Potter vault as well as Teddy’s?” Harry asked, having made his decisions while looking through the vaults. 

“We can do that, Harry Potter,” Griphook said and made duplicates of the requested keys.  Harry also had him change a bunch of gold into British pounds for him.

They left the bank together, Harry still staggering at the wealth he’d just seen.  He had no idea how it would all add up, but he knew it would be an insane amount.

“Here, Ginny,” Harry said, handing to her the key to the Potter vault as well as a small purse with about 500 galleons in it.

“What’s all this, Harry?” she asked, looking confused.

“Well, I think you could use some new robes, perhaps a new dress for the party, and the rest is to spend as you please.  The key is so that you will have access to the Potter vault when you need additional funds,” Harry explained to her, as though this was completely obvious.

Looking in the bag, Ginny said, “There must be a few hundred galleons in here, Harry.  I can’t take this money from you.”

”Ginny, are you my girlfriend or not?  You went into the Black vault with me.  That’s only about a quarter of what I own.  My inheritance is for both of us to enjoy.  Let me spend my money.  That’s what it’s for,” Harry said, gently.  Ginny was apparently in too much awe to say much, so he said, “Why don’t you and your mother go get yourselves some new clothes.  At least get her a nice dress for the party.  You don’t need to tell her where you got the gold from.  I have a few stops that I need to make on my own.”

He left Ginny standing open-mouthed with her family, before ducking his head down to try to hide his face and heading over to Quality Quidditch supplies.  He walked into the shop, which thankfully didn’t have too many people in it.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Potter?” a clerk asked him, rushing over.

“Well, Frank,” Harry said, looking at the clerk’s nametag, “I’m afraid my broomstick got destroyed last year.”

Harry felt a pang, remembering that the Firebolt had been a gift from Sirius.

“Oh no, your Firebolt?!!  Destroyed in battle?” Frank asked, clearly wanting to hear from Harry firsthand what had happened.  Harry wasn’t sure how the clerk knew what kind of broom he’d had, but thought it best not to ask.

Harry just nodded; remembering that he’d also lost Hedwig in that battle in the sky, and asked “So, what’s the best broom available right now?”

Looking a tad disappointed Frank showed him the Firebolt 1000, which had just come out the previous year.  It was even faster than the old Firebolt and had some new built-in features.

“Great, I’ll take…” Harry mentally tallied all of the people he wanted to give a broom to, “seven of them, please.”

The clerk looked shocked, but said “Sure, Mr. Potter.”

“How much do I owe you?” Harry asked him, just as the owner of the shop walked over to them.

“No, Mr. Potter, please let us give you this gift as a thank you.  We wouldn’t even have a business if it hadn’t been for you.  I’m assuming you plan to use these brooms to thank your friends for their help?” the owner said, before Frank could give Harry his total.

“Oh, no thanks.  I’d really rather pay for them,” Harry said, beginning to write out a note for them to take the gold from his vault.  In the end, Harry couldn’t convince the shopkeeper to accept the note.  So Harry decided he would send a few thousand galleons over later, anonymously.  He asked that the brooms, along with a toddler’s version of the same model, be delivered to Grimmauld Place the following Saturday.

Harry left and headed over to Flourish and Blotts to find a suitable gift for Hermione.  He knew she hated flying, so decided to get her started on her own library.  Upon entering the shop he found an entire display of Harry Potter biographies.  He rolled his eyes before noticing another display of books about The Golden Trio, The Silver Trio and biographies of Ron and Hermione.  He started to laugh, before he walked up to the counter to talk to one of the clerks.  He asked if he could have a wide variety of books on subjects he knew Hermione was interested in and one of each of all the biographies.  He couldn’t help but feel curious about what sorts of nonsense had been written about him and his friends.  He had difficulty paying at this shop as well, and decided to use the same technique as before.  They also agreed to deliver their products to his house the following Saturday after he’d given them instructions.

Harry had one more stop to make, and entered a printing shop.  He explained what he wanted to the clerk and asked that everything be delivered the day of the party.

Then he headed over to Madam Malkin’s to meet up with the Weasleys.  The men were all standing outside, so Harry entered to find Molly arguing with Ginny over the price of the robes Ginny wanted her to get.  They would match the lovely hat that Fred and George had given to her for Christmas some years previously.

“Oh, Harry, thank goodness.  What took you so long?” Ginny said, when she noticed him in the doorway.  “Would you talk to mum?  She won’t let me buy her these new robes, but they look marvelous on her.”

“Mum, I specifically gave Ginny some extra gold so that she could get you something nice for the party,” Harry told Molly.

“I can’t let you spend this much gold, Harry,” Molly said, biting her lip.  It was obvious that she very much wanted the robes, but didn’t want to accept what she looked at as charity.

“Did you mean it when you said that I was a part of your family?” Harry asked her.

“Well, of course, Harry!” Molly exclaimed, clearly upset that Harry should feel the need to ask her that.

“Then my gold is yours, right?  I think I should be allowed to buy things for my family, anyway,” Harry said.  “I’ll be very upset if you can’t accept my gifts to you.”

Harry could see that this logic had gotten to her, and that she didn’t want to do anything to hurt his feelings.  Molly and Ginny finished with their purchases and went to meet the men outside the shop.  Harry said he needed to pick up some new robes himself, so he remained behind.  When they were gone from the shop, he explained that he would like several more sets of robes sent to all of the Weasleys.  Then he allowed Madam Malkin to measure him for some new robes as well.

Everyone having finished with their errands, they decided to apparate back home, not wanting to deal with the crowd in the Leaky Cauldron again.

They sat down to a sumptuous dinner that night.

“Harry, Griphook said that he’d have someone tally everything for you when they combine your vaults and he’ll send a note around once they’re done,” Bill told Harry.

“Okay,” Harry said.

“So where exactly did you go today, Harry?” Ginny asked him, obviously curious as to why he’d been gone so long.

“You’ll find out soon enough, Ginny,” he told her slyly, not wanting to ruin the surprises he had in mind.  “I’ll tell you what,” he said when she continued to pout, “how about I show you some of the Potter jewels later?”

“What Potter jewels?” the people around the table started asking.

“Well, that’s what it said in my dad’s note.  I don’t really know, to be honest.  I didn’t open the box.  I put the ring on, though,” Harry told them, showing them Ignotus’s ring.

“What are those strange markings, Harry?” Bill asked, studying the ring.

“Well, you know the Tale of the Three Brothers?” Harry asked.  Everyone nodded, but looked confused.  “Well, Dumbledore believes that it was the Peverells who were those three brothers and that they created those objects.  They’re known as the Deathly Hallows and this is the symbol to represent them.”

“Do you mean to say that the story, that I used to tell the children at bedtime, was real, Harry?” Molly asked him.

Harry nodded and said, “Yes, Ignotus Peverell is a distant ancestor of my grandmother’s.  My Invisibility Cloak was his.”

Everyone was astounded and began reciting the story, talking excitedly.

Later that evening found Teddy asleep in his cradle, while Harry and Ginny began to sort through the large jewelry chest.  He had carefully hidden his mother’s engagement set, so that Ginny couldn’t find it and put a few spells on it so that it couldn’t be summoned magically.

“Harry, are you seriously not going to tell me where you went today?” Ginny asked.  It seemed she thought that maybe he’d tell her once they were away from the others.

Harry just smiled mischievously and said, “You’ll have to wait for the surprise until Saturday, just like everyone else.”

”Saturday!  But that’s like forever from now.”

“Well, the surprise is for Ron and Hermione as well, and in case you hadn’t noticed, they’re not back from Australia yet.”

Harry figured it would be best to distract her from the topic and asked her to help him select some pieces of jewelry to give as gifts for Molly, Fleur, Andromeda and Hermione.  This was the wrong thing to do, as it seemed to make her even more suspicious than she’d been before.  She couldn’t help but wonder if he planned on sharing any of the jewels with her, seeing some beautiful things that she liked.  But she did as he asked and they picked some very nice items for the ladies that would go well with the outfits they’d chosen for the party.  He had been talking to her about something, but she wasn’t really paying much attention as her mind was occupied admiring the contents of the jewelry box.

Changing tactics, Harry asked her if she’d go with him to the Dursleys’ on Thursday to see Dudley and then proceeded to tell her the next part of his story.  This seemed to work better as a distraction and they went to sleep peacefully.

Thursday morning, Harry sent Fawkes off to Dudley to ask if he could visit.  Dudley replied almost immediately that they should come that afternoon.

So, after lunch Harry and Ginny Apparated to the front of 4 Privet Drive, leaving Andromeda to watch Teddy again.

Harry paused and took a deep breath before going up the front walk with Ginny’s hand still in his.  He rang the doorbell, and the door was almost immediately pulled open by Dudley.

“Hiya, Harry!  Nice to see you again, Ginny.  Come on in.  I told Mum and Dad that they should go and stay in a nice hotel for the day, so we have the house to ourselves,” Dudley said, moving back so that they could enter.

Harry led Ginny to the parlor.  “Can I get you guys something to drink?  I picked up some beer,” Dudley said.

They both nodded, so he ran to the kitchen while Harry and Ginny sat down on one of the couches.

Ginny looked around, seeming to be interested in the television set in the corner. 

She said, “I’d always wondered what it looked like.  You know, from when Fred and George were here.”

Harry laughed, remembering the Ton-Tongue toffee that Dudley had eaten.  Dudley came in the room then, and must have overheard their conversation.

He too laughed, handing them each a beer, and said, “Yeah, remind me never to accept any food from your brothers.  Oh, I’m sorry.  Dedalus told me yesterday about your brother Fred being killed in the final battle, Ginny.  Please forgive my comment.”

“That’s okay.  We miss him terribly, but he died fighting for the cause he believed in,” Ginny said quietly, clutching Harry’s hand a bit tighter.  Dudley nodded in understanding and sat in a chair near them.

Trying to cover the awkward moment, Harry held his beer up and said “Here’s to the end of the war.”  They all drank to the toast and sat thoughtfully for a few minutes. 

Harry asked, “So, Big D, why don’t you tell us about what happened when you left the house last year?”

“Okay,” Dudley said, before launching into his story.

“We were attacked shortly after leaving the street.  I would have to say that our protectors were properly chosen because they managed to fight off the Death Eaters and then they Apparated us all out of there.  We stayed at a small house in Kent.  It was weird because at first we couldn’t see it, then all of the sudden it was there pushing the other houses aside.  There was no T.V. so Hestia and Dedalus entertained me with stories.  Guess who those stories were about?” Dudley asked, chuckling.

“Harry?” Ginny asked, laughingly.

“Course!  Harry was their favorite subject.  They told me all about the things you’ve done since going to Hogwarts and everything.  It was really rather entertaining.  Dad would leave the room whenever they started talking about you, Harry.  Mum would tell them that she wasn’t interested, but I could tell that she was listening.  I think I was almost driving Hestia and Dedalus crazy with all of my questions, but once I’d gotten an inkling about all of the stuff you’d done I couldn’t seem to get enough information.  Sometimes other people would stop by to check on us and the situation.  That’s how I got to know that Mr. and Mrs. Lupin.  They were really nice to me, although they kept giving my parents nasty looks.  All my parents could think about was that time they met us in the train station to pick you up, Harry.  But Mr. and Mrs. Lupin had even better stories than Hestia and Dedalus and were happy to share them with me.  They told me about all of the special kinds of magic that you can do.  It was really cool.  Did you really do all that stuff?”

“Well, I don’t know about anything that Hestia and Dedalus told you.  As you may have noticed, they get a little overexcited when talking about me.  Whatever you heard from Lupin should be entirely accurate though.  He was one of my professors at school, and like I said at the funeral he was one of my parents’ best friends,” Harry explained to Dudley.  “So what did you guys do, besides listen to stories?”

“They set things up for Dad to work at a local store, and for me to attend the local High School.  I was really pleased by that, because I honestly didn’t really want to go back to Smeltings.  After that summer, you know with the Dementors…” Dudley shivered, remembering the dreadful night. 

Harry and Ginny both got goose bumps upon the mention of the Dementors as well.

“Well, I just wasn’t interested in hanging around with the horrible friends I’d made.  And because I’d bullied any of the people that might have made good friends, I was pretty lonely at school that last year.  But I decided that going to a new school, I’d be able to be any kind of person I wanted.  So I made friends with some of the people that seemed to get made fun of and tried to defend them to the bullies.  It was much nicer.  I knew what it was like, you see.  Those Dementors….made me…feel the way…the people I’d….hurt felt,” Dudley said, looking terrified.  Harry reached out a hand and patted Dudley on the shoulder.  This seemed to bring him back to himself and he said, “So, anyhow I started hanging out with this girl named Jenny.  I even walked her home a few times and took her to the local coffee shop for a drink a few times,” Dudley said, blushing profusely.

“A girlfriend, Dudley?  Wow, you really did grow up.  I’m impressed,” Harry said, urging Dudley to continue.

“Yes, well, one day I was trying to catch up to her while she was walking home when I saw a couple of wizards pop up in between us.  I was scared, because they didn’t look too friendly.  I decided to try to sneak up on them instead of just approaching them.  I could hear them though. 

One said, ‘Name?’

Jenny said ‘Jenny, Jenny Jenkins.’ I could tell she was terrified. 

Then the bloke said, ‘Jenkins, eh?’

The other guy seemed to check a list and said, ‘No Jenkins on here.  She looks a bit more like a Bones to me, what do you think?’ 

The first guy looked at her closely and said, ‘Hmm, Susan Bones perhaps?’” Dudley said, while Harry and Ginny both gasped, looking at each other in horror. 

“She kept yelling that no, she was Jenny Jenkins, but it was obvious that they didn’t believe her.  They told her that they had to take her into custody.  I couldn’t let them do that, so I ran up and tapped one of the bad guys on the shoulder.  The minute he turned around I punched him in the face.  I was sure glad for all of those boxing lessons in that moment, I can tell you.  Then Susan pulled out her wand and stunned the other guy.  Before they could get up I grabbed Susan’s hand and we ran to my house. 

I pulled her through the front door and peered out the window.  I watched the guy she’d stunned get up and start looking around.  But it seemed that he couldn’t see our house, because he just looked at the two houses on either side of us.  We were trying to catch our breath when Hestia and my mother came running out of the kitchen.  My mother demanded to know what happened. 

Then Hestia started yelling at me when she saw Susan and said, ‘Dudley!  How could you?  We’ve told you a million times that you can’t tell anyone or show anyone where we live!’  So I yelled right back at her and told her that Susan (well, I wasn’t sure what her name was at that point), well, I said that was a witch and that someone had just tried to kidnap her.  Hestia looked out the window to see the wizards searching the street.

‘Oh, no!’ she said. ‘We need to leave!’  She ran to find Dedalus, who Apparated over to the hardware store to get my dad. 

Of course my dad was furious by the time Dedalus got him into our house.  He’d been in the middle of a sale and Dedalus had had to Confound the customers that were in the store at the time.  Dedalus and Hestia whispered between themselves for a few minutes.  Then they started asking Susan about her parentage and why she wasn’t at school.  She said that she and her dad had been on the run since her mother had been killed a few months before for trying to help muggleborns.  Hestia told Susan that she could stay with us, that it’d be safer.  Susan didn’t want to leave her father though, who was still at home.  Finally Hestia said that she would get us all to a different safe house and then come back for Susan’s dad.  So they Aparated us to somewhere in Cornwall.  Then Hestia made herself invisible, I think Dedalus said it was disillusionment or something.  She returned a short while later with Mr. Bones. 

That night we talked about what we should do now.  Dedalus said that we shouldn’t leave the house anymore except to occasionally get food.  My father went crazy, but my mother and I were able to calm him down.  My mother told him that if these people thought it was too dangerous to go out then that was that.  She told me to explain what had almost happened to Susan and me, which finally shut him up about it.  Dedalus managed to find a television set, which seemed to calm my father down a little bit as well.  Susan taught me some fun games to play like Exploding Snap and Gobstones.  I screamed the first time I got squirted, when we played Gobstones,” Dudley said, laughing fondly at the memory. 

“Well, obviously you guys know Susan.  She told me all about Dumbledore’s Army and showed me that fake galleon.  She kept pulling it out of her pocket every time it got warm.  She told me that was how she knew that there was a new message on it.  She would look at it forlornly before putting it back into her pocket. 

Then all of the sudden she said, ‘Oh Merlin, I need to get to Hogwarts,’ after looking at the coin and pulled out her wand.

‘What? What are you talking about?’ I asked her, a bit frightened. 

Her father shouted, ‘Are you crazy?  No way are you returning!’ 

‘I have to go,’ she said, ‘Harry, Ron and Hermione are there.’  She was still reading the galleon, and then she said, ‘They’re going to fight the Death Eaters. I’m a part of this army; I need to fight with them.’

Mr. Bones and I had to hold her down to keep her from leaving the house.  She just kept crying, “I have to go!  I can’t leave them to fight by themselves!’  Then one of those Patronus-things came in saying that the Order was being called to Hogwarts to defend the castle and everyone should go to the…Hog’s Head, I think it was. 

Hestia and Dedalus looked at each other.  Mr. Bones told them both to go and that he’d wait there with us.  They left immediately. 

I learned to pray that night.  I’d grown very fond of Hestia and Dedalus and didn’t want anything to happen to them.  And because of Susan’s announcement, I knew that you were going to be involved in the battle too, somehow.  Susan and I held hands all night, waiting for some news.  Mr. Bones kept fiddling with the radio, but we all knew that everyone who was involved with ‘Potterwatch’ was probably fighting up at the school and unlikely to broadcast that night.  My father just sat watching the television, but I could tell that he wasn’t really paying any attention to it.  My mother kept pacing around the house, looking out the windows.  I don’t know if she thought she could figure something out by looking outside,” Dudley said, shaking his head. 

“It seemed like we’d waited forever before Hestia and Dedalus showed up.  Their robes were torn and blood-stained and their hair was flying every which way.  It was obvious that they’d been crying, but had big smiles on their faces.  Hestia started hugging all of us while screaming, ‘We did it! We did it!’  Dedalus pulled us all out into the yard and started sending off sparks from his wand high into the air.  They looked like fireworks in the sky. 

‘We lost some really great people, though.  At least 50 dead,’ Hestia said, starting to cry as she began listing off names. 

I could tell that Susan and her father knew some of the people because Susan started crying.  I put my arm around her so that she could lean on me.  I finally got up the courage to ask the question I really needed to ask, ‘What about Harry? Is Harry ok?’ 

Dedalus smiled at that and said, ‘Well, we thought he was dead.  But then he showed up all of the sudden and killed Voldemort.’ 

I could tell that Mum had been holding her breath, because she let out a huge sigh of relief and even Dad grunted and said ‘good.’  We went back inside and they told us the whole story.  I’m assuming that since you were there I don’t need to tell you how the battle went.  You really were fantastic, Harry.  I have to say that I’m very proud to call you my cousin,” Dudley said, finally finishing his story. 

Harry and Ginny sat in a stunned silence for a little while before asking Dudley more questions.  Harry was still amazed.  Not only had Dudley come to accept the Wizarding World, he’d become involved in it and even knew the names of some of the spells.  They continued to enjoy the beer, finishing the better part of the case that Dudley had bought earlier that day.  They laughed together and enjoyed discussing stories from their childhoods.  Dudley couldn’t seem to get enough of Ginny’s stories about her and her brothers.

“Merlin, it’s like 5:30!” Ginny suddenly exclaimed, glancing at Harry’s watch.  “Kreacher will kill us if we’re late for dinner.”

“Care to join us, Dudley?” Harry asked his cousin.

“Sure,” Dudley said.  So Harry Apparated the three of them back to Grimmauld Place. 

The new friends stumbled through the door of the ancient house, still laughing. 

“Wow, never done that drunk before,” Harry commented as they started up the stairs to the dining room.  “Just to let you know, Dudley, I don’t want you to be shocked when you see George.  He lost an ear during a battle last year.” 

They were all shaking their heads to clear them, before sitting down at the table.

The Weasleys were clearly surprised to see Dudley there with them, but didn’t make any comment.

“Have you been drinking?” Molly asked Harry and Ginny after getting a whiff of them.  All three started laughing their heads off.

“Sorry, Mrs. Weasley, it’s all my fault.  I’m afraid we had a few too many beers while we were catching up,” Dudley said, not very clearly.

“Hmm,” Molly said, but didn’t comment further.  The rest of the people at the table looked as though they were trying to repress laughter.

Trying to deflect their amused gazes Harry turned to Dudley. “So, we’re having a big party here the Thursday after next.  We decided to celebrate the end of the war.  Would you like to come?  I can invite your parents as well, if you’d like.”

“Sure!  That sounds great.  I don’t know if my parents will want to come,” Dudley said, thinking.  Then he said, “Well, maybe Mum will.  I’ll ask her.  Would it be okay if I invite my girlfriend?”

“I think she’s already invited, Dudley, but I’ll double-check after dinner,” Ginny told him.  He smiled.

“Who’s your girlfriend?” George asked, realizing that the girl must be someone they knew if Ginny thought she was on the invite-list.

“Oh, well, I met Susan Bones while I was in hiding during the war.  We became pretty close during that time.  I asked her out just a little while before we went home,” Dudley told him, blushing again.

“Yeah, we know her!  She was in the D.A. with us a few years ago,” George said.

That seemed to break the dam, and everyone went on to their usual dinnertime discussions, including Dudley whenever possible.  After dinner George handed Harry, Ginny and Dudley each a vial with a potion inside.

“What’s this?” Harry asked him.

“Oh, that’s so that you guys don’t all have horrible hangovers in the morning.  Fred and I…” he said, before fleeing the room.

“Fred was his twin, wasn’t he?” Dudley asked, slightly uncomfortable.  Harry nodded sadly.  Then Dudley looked at the bottle suspiciously.  He said “Yeah, I think I’ll just take the hangover.”

Harry laughed and said, “Here, I’ll drink mine to test it.”

When nothing happened to him, Ginny and Dudley followed suit.

Everyone moved into the drawing room and started playing different games or having small discussions.

“Exploding Snap, Harry?” Dudley asked him.

“Sure!” said Harry, who had decided some hours previously not to be surprised by any of the strange comments coming out of Dudley’s mouth.  He led Dudley to a corner of the room.

“Listen, I have a favor to ask of you,” Harry told him, once they were out of earshot from the rest of the family.

“Anything, Harry, I owe you big time,” Dudley said, obviously eager to do anything he could to help his cousin.

Harry outlined what he needed by Saturday and covertly passed a few hundred pounds to Dudley as well as a small sack full of galleons.  “There should be some extra money there to buy yourself a smart new outfit for the party.  I have the feeling your old suits might be a bit too big on you.  Give the galleons to Susan.  Tell her to get herself a new dress.  The rest is to help her dad get back on his feet.  I don’t know how well off they were, but I can’t imagine he’s worked much in the last year.”

“Wow!  Harry, there is a ridiculous amount of money in here.  Are you sure?  Will most people wear robes to the party?” Dudley asked, looking thoughtful.

“Most people will probably wear robes, but some will come in muggle clothing, I’m sure,” Harry told him reassuringly.

“Could I get some robes?  I think I’d rather dress that way for the party,” Dudley said.

Harry thought about it for a moment and suggested “Susan could probably take you to Diagon Alley with her when she gets her own new robes.” 
Dudley nodded and said that sounded good.  Finally it started getting late.

“Do you want me to take you home or would you rather just stay here for the night?” Harry asked him.
Dudley yawned, “It is late isn’t it?  Do you mind if I just stay here?  Maybe you could take me to Susan’s tomorrow?”

“Sure.  Kreacher!” Harry said, the elf appearing instantly.  “Is there an extra room that my cousin could use?”

“Of course, Master Harry!” Kreacher said, and indicated for them to follow.

“I remember you!” Dudley said, excitedly, “You came to my parents’ house with Dumbledore that time.”  Dudley had a dubious look on his face, clearly indicating that he remembered the elf not liking Harry very much at the time.

“Yes, Mr. Durzey, Kreacher was there.  Kreacher was not a very good house elf then, but Kreacher is trying to be a good elf now,” Kreacher responded, bowing his head in shame.  “Kreacher likes his Master now.”

“Certainly changed his tune about you, hasn’t he?” Dudley asked.

“There seems to be a lot of that going around lately,” Harry said wryly, just as they reached the room that Kreacher had chosen.

It was in shambles.  “Sorry, Master Harry, Kreacher hasn’t gotten to this room yet.”

“Come on, Kreacher, you take that side and I’ll take this one,” Harry said.  They stood back to back and quickly cleared the room of debris.  It was clean a few minutes later.

“Wow!  That’s so cool.  I know it always made Mum a little jealous when she would watch Hestia clean like that,” Dudley said, shaking his head in amazement and laughing.

“Good-night, Dudley,” Harry said, leaving the room to join Ginny in his own bedroom.

“Who would have guessed Dudley and Susan together?” Ginny said, when she saw him.  “You know, it made me wonder, when he told us about fighting off those Snatchers, if he might have been a Gryffindor had he gone to Hogwarts.”

Harry just shook his head.  It had been a very strange day, indeed.

The next day, Harry and Dudley left the house after breakfast to go to the Bones’ house.  They’d gone home after the final battle and Mr. Bones was at work by the time they got there.

Susan came running out of the house, flinging her arms around Dudley, “I can’t believe you’re here!  How’d you get here?”
Dudley kissed her full on the mouth, before releasing her and pointing over to Harry.

“Harry!  How are you?” she exclaimed, before hugging Harry.

“I’m great, Susan.  I’m glad that you and Dudley have gotten to know each other so…er…well,” Harry said knowingly.

“Oh, yes.  He was a great comfort while we were in hiding.  I don’t know how I would have managed otherwise.  I mean, the Snatchers probably would have arrested me if he hadn’t intervened.  But we’re all okay now.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear that you were victorious and made it through okay.  We were all so worried,” she said.  “Oh, where are my manners?  Come on in.”

Harry and Dudley entered the house behind her.  They enjoyed a tray of tea while they discussed the party.  She refused the galleons, until Harry told her that he’d hex her if she didn’t take it.  He advised her to sneak the extra money to her father, so that he wouldn’t feel like he was accepting charity.  She understood.  Dudley decided to stay with the Bones’ until the party, but promised that he’d have everything that Harry needed ready by Saturday for him.

 


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