Chapter 1 : Dudley returns
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Harry sat behind his desk, his Auror’s robes stained with ash and his face covered in soot. He looked across his desk at Ron and said, “Why do they always run? Don’t they know that once we put a Tracking Charm on them, that they can’t get away?”
The soot and ash covered Auror across the desk from Harry answered, “It’s human nature, Harry. They know they’ve been caught and they’re trying to get away.” Ron’s voice was barely recognisable, as he had breathed in so much of the ash. He began to cough as Harry cleaned himself and his robes with his wand. When Harry had finished cleaning himself, he moved to his coughing friend and started to clean him. Harry had just finished cleaning Ron’s robes and started to raise his wand to clean Ron’s face, when suddenly, a sigil started to glow on Harry’s desk and emit a beeping noise.
Harry lowered his wand and asked Ron, “Did you tell anyone that we were back in the office?”
Ron shook his head, coughing all the while.
Harry moved back behind his desk, touched the sigil and spoke, “Auror Inspector Potter."
A pleasant, contralto female voice spoke through the sigil, “Harry, there are some people here to see you. Shall I send them in?”
Harry answered, “How did you know that Ron and I were in the office, Gwen?
Gwen’s voice answered back, “Really, Harry, everyone on this floor can hear Ron coughing. He should get that cough checked out.”
Harry asked, “Who’s here to see me?”
Gwen’s voice answered, “Trust me, Harry. You’ll want to see these people and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”
Ron finally stopped his coughing fit and sat wheezing, trying to get his breath back. His face shone bright red in between the sooty stains. Harry met Ron’s eyes. Ron shrugged. Harry spoke back into the sigil, “Okay, send them in.”
The sigil disappeared back into the desk, and Harry asked Ron, “Who could possibly have been waiting all this time to see us?” Ron shrugged. Harry continued, “We’ve been gone for five hours chasing after Naismith. I wonder how long they waited for us.”
A knock sounded at the door. Harry shouted at the door, “Enter!
A medium-height, well put together man in a tan British Army uniform with an SAS logo on his beret entered. He pushed a woman in a wheelchair. Harry looked over the woman in the wheelchair first, trying to place her. Obviously a witch, from her purple robes with gold embroidery, she appeared to be about his age. It only took him a moment to realise that the woman seated before him had been declared legally dead just nine years previously.
She looked at Ron, laughter making the lines around her eyes crinkle, and said, “Won-Won, how pleasant to see you. We were only expecting to find Harry here. I like the new tan,” indicating his soot-streaked face.
Ron looked stunned and croaked, “Lavender, is it really you?”
Lavender looked up at Ron and said, “Yes, Ron, it’s really me.”
Ron sputtered, “B-but y-you were declared dead after the Battle of Hogwarts.”
Lavender laughed, “I faked my own death and left the country. I wasn’t sure if the Death Eaters would re-form after Harry killed You-Know-Who, so my family and I left the country. Besides, I was in no shape to help out.” She indicated the stumps where her legs had been, then covered them with a blanket she pulled from a basket that hung from the handles of the wheelchair.
As Lavender answered Ron, Harry studied the soldier more closely. Harry realised when he saw the pig-like eyes who stood across from him, silently awaiting acknowledgment. Harry hadn’t seen Dudley for more than ten years.
Harry strode across the room and extended his hand to Dudley. Dudley took the proffered hand and shook it warmly. Harry said, “My God, Dudley. It’s been what, almost ten years?” Ron’s face swiveled to look at Dudley with shock.
Dudley smiled with pleasure, a sight that Harry had only seen from Dudley when Dudley had just tormented some smaller child. Dudley spoke, his voice richer than Harry remembered, “Yes, Harry, it’s been about ten years.”
“What brings you here, Dudley? How do you know Lavender? How are your parents?” Harry asked in a rush, indicating that Dudley should sit in the other unoccupied visitor’s chair. Harry moved back behind his desk and sat.
Dudley sat down in the indicated chair, after pulling Lavender’s wheelchair up next to it. As he sat, he leaned over and brushed Lavender’s lips with his. When he sat down, he grabbed Lavender’s hand and held it as he answered, “Well, Harry, Mum is doing fine, health-wise, at least, and she sends her regards. Dad isn’t doing so well. He’s developed adult-onset diabetes and also has a serious heart condition. He pretty much is confined to his bed right now. As you can imagine, Mum’s going a bit spare caring for him.” Dudley looked around at the office and asked, “So, you’re an Auror? Lav tells me that’s some type of magical policeman.”
Ron answered, “Actually, Harry’s an Auror Inspector. It’s more like being a D.I. than a P.C.”
Lavender spoke up, “Auror Inspector in only nine years, that’s pretty fast, isn’t it?”
Ron answered again, just as Harry opened his mouth, “Just six years after finishing training, the fastest to make A.I. in the last two hundred years.” Harry turned a bit pink at Ron’s praise.
Dudley said, “Congratulations, Harry. I hear that you’re married now, as well.”
Harry nodded and said, “Married, with two children and one more on the way.”
Lavender turned her head to look at Ron and asked, “And you, Ron, any little bushy red-haired Weasley’s?”
Ron flushed under the soot and said, “Hermione and I have a little girl named Rose and Hermione thinks that she might be pregnant again. We’re going to St. Mungo’s on Tuesday for testing to be sure. She says you can’t trust the Muggle pregnancy tests if you’re a witch.”
Harry looked at Dudley, obviously happy, holding tightly to Lavender’s hand. Harry looked at Lavender, reminiscing with Ron over times at Hogwarts. Harry then turned his gaze back to Dudley, looking him over carefully. Dudley returned Harry’s frank, appraising gaze without flinching.
Harry finally spoke, speaking over Lavender. “Dudley, what brings you here today?”
Dudley looked at Lavender. She nodded. Dudley gathered himself and said, “Harry, Lavender and I want you to be the best man at our wedding.”