Chapter 2 : Into the Wizarding World
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Dudley shifted uncomfortably between his mother and the annoyingly upbeat wizard, Dedalus Diggle. This had to be the most unpleasant car ride of his entire life. Vernon was muttering angrily about Harry’s lot being ‘insufferable maniacs’ as he drove down the empty lane while Hestia, the Dursleys’ much calmer magical escort, instructed him where to go; the situation was not agreeable to any of the Dursley clan.
Diggle was chatting excitedly about the ‘genius of muggles’ and ‘how marvelous it was that they survived without magic.’ Dudley was not sure whether this was really a compliment but chose to keep his mouth shut as they continued along the unusually straight road.
“Stop here,” Hestia told Vernon as she glanced at her pocket-watch. “We need to disapparate in a few minutes time.”
‘Disapparate?’ Dudley racked his brains for any clue as to what Hestia could mean.
Hestia, noticing the confused and terrified looks that crossed the Dursleys’ faces explained, “We will transport to the safe house using magic. Apparation may feel a tad uncomfortable the first time, but it isn’t dangerous.”
“Well, you could always splinch…”
“Not dangerous at all!” Hestia hastily interjected staring pointedly at Diggle. She realized it would be difficult enough to get the Dursleys to cooperate.
Dudley, who had blanched slightly at the mention of ‘splinch’ – whatever that was, edged away from the two wizards. He wondered why he had never asked Harry what to expect. The only thing he knew about magical transport was that wizards could travel by fire… and flying cars… and Mr. Weasley had disappeared once… maybe that was dissapparating!
Dudley was shocked out of his thoughts by the magic Hestia was currently performing on his luggage. She waved her wand and watched as the Dursley trunks shrunk to the size of teapots. Hestia muttered something about wishing she was able to make them smaller as she scooped the, now miniscule, baggage into a large carpetbag.
“TIME TO GO!” Dedalus’ watch screeched akin to the way it had at the Dursleys’ house.
“Right then,” Hestia said as she strode over to Dudley, still carrying the carpetbag. “I’ll take the boy, you take the adults.”
Before Petunia could object, Dedalus grabbed both hers and her husband’s arms as Hestia snatched Dudley’s elbow. There was a squeezing sensation, as air was ‘vacuumed’ out of the Dursleys’ lungs. Suddenly, all three muggles hit the ground shaking violently as they tried to recuperate from their first apparation.
Vernon bellowed “NOT DANGEROUS!” as he rolled around trying to right himself. “A TAD UNCOMFORTABLE! OF ALL THE CRO…”
Vernon fell silent though his face remained screwed up and purple; he was obviously still shouting at Hestia and Diggle. However, now no one could hear his cries.
Dudley glanced quizzically at their magical escorts wondering what they had done to his father. While he quite enjoyed Vernon’s silence, Dudley was horrified by the wizard’s ability to force this occurrence.
“Not to worry,” Diggle assured Dudley and his silently sobbing mother. “It’s just a silencing charm. I’ll lift it when we get inside.”
Dudley examined his surroundings for the first time. The Dursleys and their escorts now stood on a narrow road alongside a 10-foot wide river? (Dudley doubted the body of water qualified as a river; it was more of a canal really.) The buildings looked old and foreboding, their balconies sagged with age and paint was chipping off their sides. Dudley wondered if they were staying in one of these rickety old homes; Diggle soon answered his query by withdrawing his wand from his fuchsia trench coat and muttering something barely audible at the wall before them
With a flick of Dedalus’ wand, a large gilded door suddenly appeared on the ground at the travelers’ feet. The door snaked its way across the road and up the side of the wall in front of Dedalus, it slowly gained dimension before halting with a resounding thud before them.
Vernon Dursley was still soundlessly yelling his, now puce, head off and Petunia started to swoon. Dudley, however, remained rooted to his spot staring at the door with fascination. He watched in wonder as Hestia offered her wand to the lion-shaped doorknocker. The lion in question blinked and sniffed her wand; he nodded at the witch then repeated the process with Dedalus’ wand.
Once the doorknocker had sniffed both wands, the door itself swung open grandly to reveal an equally remarkable spiral staircase. The ascending stairwell was crafted out of ornately carved wood, which, despite its slightly decaying appearance, had retained much of its former grandeur. This house had obviously once belonged to a rather wealthy individual though it hadn’t been lived in for several years.
The small group clamored up the stairs, which consequently seemed to continue on forever. By the time everyone had reached the landing the Dursleys were all winded and extremely uncomfortable. Even Hestia & Diggle looked unhappy about the length of the stairwell.
“We really should speak to ‘Mad Eye’ about the protective charms around this place,” Hestia frowned. “I know a seemingly never-ending staircase is a deterrent but, in reality, if the Death Eaters do find this place, I don’t think it’ll do much good.”
“Yes, Yes,” Dedalus agreed. “I’ll send my patronus to him tomorrow. Hopefully by then we’ll have some news on the success Harry’s extraction.”
Dudley’s ears pricked up at the mention of his cousin. He still didn’t understand why Harry’s departure from 4 Privet Drive was so much more complicated than the Dursleys’. Or why Harry hadn’t just come with them into hiding for that matter. Dudley made a mental note to ask either Dedalus or Hestia where Harry was in the morning.
“BARKING, INSANE, FREAKISH…” Vernon ceased screaming when he realized he could be heard again. However, his face remained an unnatural shade of purple as he fought to keep his rage under control. Vernon Dursley did not want any more spells placed on him, thank you very much.
“Well,” Diggle chirped. “Here we are! Home sweet home!”
Petunia scoffed at the thought that the terrifyingly abnormal residence could ever feel homey to her family. The house, in truth, was not bad at all. In fact, it was quite extraordinary. The walls of the room they were standing in were paneled with intricately carved and painted wood; the house was expensively and tastefully furnished. Though there were no light fixtures in the house, thus making it difficult to see, Dudley could discern that the room beyond this was similarly decorated. All in all, the Dursleys should not have had anything to complain about, besides the fact that the house was magic of course.
Hestia hoisted up the carpetbag clearing her throat. “Shall I show you your rooms then?” she asked pleasantly.
Vernon grunted and followed the witch, who was holding her wand ahead of her like a torch, into the next room.
Diggle, chatting in hushed tones about something he found “marvelous”, led Petunia and Vernon, much to their chagrin, to their room down a dark corridor. Hestia, meanwhile, led Dudley, down a different hallway. The pair walked in silence as they passed several portraits of sleeping people in bathrobes and witches’ caps.
Finally, Hestia paused in front of a plain oak door with the nameplate “James” fastened to it. She motioned for Dudley to open the door for her and followed him inside.
The room was very dark but Dudley was able to make out in the wandlight three beds, two of which seemed to already be occupied. Dudley turned questioningly to face Hestia who shrugged, “You and your family aren’t the only ones who have gone into hiding. I’ll see you in the morning then.” Hestia turned and left Dudley and his newly resized trunk in the room.
Dudley awoke the next morning as the sun touched his face. He stretched and settled sleepily back against his pillow. Suddenly he sat bolt upright as he remembered the previous night’s events.
In the daylight, Dudley was able to properly examine his new bedroom. The room itself was large and the walls were papered crimson and gold. There was very little furniture other than the three beds he had noticed last night but all of it was richly carved and expensive. Whoever owned this house must be wealthy.
A strange boy of about Dudley’s age walked into the room from what only could have been the bathroom. His hair was damp and looked as though it had just been towel-dried. Upon noticing Dudley sitting up in his bed, the boy grinned and said, “Oh, you’re up then.”
Dudley blinked and responded, “Yea.”
“Well, if you’re going to have a shower, I suggest you wait a bit. The pipes are old, you see, and are a bit testy after I yelled at them to give me some hot water.”
Dudley stared at his peculiar roommate in disbelief. Did he actually yell at the pipes? What good would that do?
“I’m Justin. Justin Finch-Fletchley. What’s your name?” Justin inquired.
“Dudley. Dudley Dursley.”
“You’re a muggle, I take it?”
Dudley, who felt an odd sense of pride in knowing a muggle was the wizarding world’s word for a non-magical person, nodded in response.
“I’m muggle-born myself. But…” Justin cut himself short when he noticed someone stirring in the room’s third bed.
The third boy looked slightly younger than the other two, a golden brown mop of tousled hair currently dominated his head. He stretched his arms and yawned as he peered around the room with bleary grey eyes.
“Owen!” Justin cried, causing the younger boy to jump in surprise. “I didn’t know you would be in hiding with us!”
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know we were going into hiding,” Owen grumbled sleepily. He obviously hadn’t appreciated the din caused by Justin in the early morning.
“Yea... Apparently all of the muggle-born students are being taken into hiding. I guess they put three families here.”
“Where exactly is here?” Dudley asked having finally found his voice again. He was still just wrapping his head around having two more wizards at the safe house with his family. His father will just love that.
“I don’t really know,” Justin offered. “We took a portkey here from London but no one actually told us where we were going.”
“Venice,” Owen mumbled before lying back down and pulling the red sheets back over his face. “Italy,” he muffled voice could be heard from beneath the bedclothes.
“Well, there you have it!” Justin chirped in a voice that very much reminded him of Dedalus the night before. Morning people could be more difficult to deal with than people like Owen who wouldn’t get out of bed.
“No, I mean what is this house?” Dudley asked sheepishly. He recalled the magical appearance of the home’s entrance the night before. This was obviously a wizard dwelling.
“Well,” Justin said pensively. “It definitely belongs to a wizarding family” ‘Well spotted’ thought Dudley. “But it hasn’t been lived in for several years… Probably a vacation house because not many wizards actually live in Venice all year round…”
Owen gave up his futile attempt at reclaiming sleep and sat up on his bed to join the conversation. “I bet it belongs to one of the Order members,” he contributed.
“Naw… the only one I know of who has enough gold is Kingsley and…”
“Are you suggesting you actually know who the members of the Order of the Phoenix are?”
“Well,” Justin looked rather abashed. “Harry some of them at the DA meetings.”
The mention of Harry’s name caught Dudley’s attention. He had already gathered the impression that the other two boys were school mates but it only just occurred to him that they might know Harry as well.
“Harry?” Dudley questioned. “Harry who?”
“Harry Potter of course!” Justin scoffed rolling his eyes. “Who else would have any connection with the Order?”
“What are you on about?” Dudley asked, more confused than ever. “What’s so special about my cousin?”
“YOUR COUSIN!?!” both boys thundered as they stared at Dudley with unbelieving eyes. The room fell so quiet, one could have heard a pin drop on the scrubbed wood floors.
“Harry Potter is YOUR cousin.” Owen repeated with a look of astonishment on his face. “I don’t believe it.”
“What do you mean you don’t believe Harry’s my cousin?” Dudley was becoming increasingly annoyed as well as confused. “Why on EARTH would I lie about being related to that scrawny kid?” He felt a pang of guilt at the utterance of these words. Harry had, after all, saved his life.
“SCRAWNY KID?” Justin bellowed. “That’s what you call the ‘Chosen One’? Scrawny?”
“Well no,” Dudley said tentatively. Apparently mocking Harry was not going to go over well with this crowd. “He just.... He’s Harry. Just Harry…”
The other two boys were now staring at the Dursley heir with their mouths hanging down the floor. Dudley shifted uncomfortably under their gaze.
Dudley took this moment to reflect. It was true, he really didn’t know his cousin at all. In fact, ever since Harry had discovered the wizarding world, the Dursleys had hardly seen their young charge at all. He blushed, ashamed, and mumbled, “We didn’t really talk that much.”
“So, I guess we know why you’re in hiding,” Justin chuckled. “I’d imagine You-Know-Who would love to get his hands on Harry’s muggle family.”
Dudley’s knit his brow as he became ever more confused, “You-Know-Who? Who’s that?”
“Bloody Hell!” Owen exclaimed. “Don’t you even know why you’re in hiding?”
“Of course I do!” Dudley replied indignantly. He wasn’t an idiot. “Harry told us we were in danger from a Lord Voldemort.” The other boys winced at this name but continued to stare at Dudley in disbelief. “I don’t see what that has to do with … WHAT’S WRONG?”
“You said his name,” Justin’s unfaltering gaze remained trained on the youngest Dursley. “No one says his name… well, Harry does, but that’s just because, well, he’s Harry Potter.”
Owen, seeing Dudley’s perplexed expression, explained, “You-Know-Who is the wizard you’re hiding from. People don’t actually say his real name because they’re afraid he’ll come after them; and once You-Know-Who decides to kill someone, they don’t survive.”
“Well, except for Harry,” Justin offered.
“Exactly, except for Harry,” Owen nodded.
After Dudley and Owen had both showered and gotten dressed, the three youths made their way down the hall towards the kitchen for a spot of breakfast. In the daylight, Dudley could see the house was indeed, quite expensively furnished. The paintings, which lined the walls of the hall, looked much more… awake in the daytime. Dudley, much to the amusement of his roommates, jumped back a good foot when one of the figures in a portrait took off his wizarding cap and bid him ‘good morning’. The two wizard boys quickly explained that magical photographs move, ‘almost like televisions but much more alive.’
In the kitchen, three girls sat around the small scrubbed wood table eating sugar cereal. The eldest and the youngest girls appeared to be siblings; they had the same steely grey eyes as Owen, their brother. Both sisters had deep chestnut hair in contrast with Owen’s sandy locks. The third girl, though obviously nearly the same age as the elder sister, was the by far the smallest. She had honey blond hair which curled just above her thin shoulders framing her heart-shaped face.
Dudley stood frozen in the doorway, he had not expected to see any girls while in hiding, particularly not any girls as beautiful as the three before him. Owen and Justin, however, seemed relatively unfazed by their company and started preparing their breakfast. Dudley hastened to join his roommates, not wanting to attract any attention. The blonde girl looked up from her cereal, “Oh. Hello, I’m Hazel, Justin’s cousin. This is Nesta,” she indicated the elder girl, “and Lunet.”
“They’re my sisters,” Owen explained between bites of his breakfast. “Lunet goes to Hogwarts with us but I don’t recon you’ve met Nesta yet, have you Justin?”
Justin, who had been attempting nonchalance in the presence of the, rather attractive, muggle, shook his head blushing before hiding behind a copy of a newspaper.
“Nice to meet you,” Dudley mumbled to the girls as hid his embarrassment by grabbing the first thing he saw and taking a bite. It was a grapefruit… Dudley grimaced as he remembered the horror of being on a “rabbit-food diet” when he was 14. Grapefruit was, in Dudley’s opinion, the most unnaturally disgusting food to have ever graced the planet, and now he had to finish a whole one! This was going to be a long morning.
Nesta, the elder of Owen’s sisters, finished her breakfast first. When she stood up to clear her dish, untangling her long legs from underneath the table, Dudley and Justin both inhaled sharply.
Nesta was, without a doubt, one of the fittest women Dudley had ever seen. Though she dressed modestly in a ratty grey t-shirt, it was clear that she had a very curvy figure. Her legs, which peaked out from black sports-shorts, seemed to go on forever. Dudley and Justin stared after her as she sashayed over towards the sink, her hips rolling slowly, rhythmically…
Owen cleared his throat, glaring at his two roommates who were blatantly staring at his sister. Justin & Dudley quickly snapped their mouths shut and turned back towards their food. Dudley could hear Hazel giggling at the boys’ embarrassment. Dudley scowled, Owen should have… warned him his sister was fit! He should have warned Justin for that matter! It was not fair for Owen to be upset when the incident was clearly HIS fault!
As Nesta slowly ambled back to the table to rejoin the conversation, the kitchen door swung open and Diggle burst into the room. He made a quick dash to the only painting on the plain walls, muttering angrily under his breath.
“Prue!” Diggle yelled at the stately emerald chair inside the picture. “Prudence Kipsworth, it’s high time you give us news!”
To Dudley’s surprise, a raven-haired woman dressed in Elizabethan clothing sauntered into her painting and sat down on her ‘throne’. She addressed Diggle in a haughty voice, “Yes?”
“Oh… You’re here… Good,” Diggle was noticeably flustered by the appearance of the portrait’s subject, but quickly regained momentum. “I, um, was hoping you might be able to tell us what happened last night? Was the operation successful? And why isn’t Mad ‘Eye’ answering my patronus?”
The young people in the room sat up, eager for ANY news. Prudence Kipsworth, sighed and gave Dedalus a mournful look. “Mad ‘Eye’ Moody is dead, they knew the move would happen last night.” Then, noticing the crowd of teenagers at the kitchen table she added, “Are you sure, Diggle, you want to be having this conversation here?”
Dedalus, still frozen after the news of his fellow Auror’s death, shook his head as he realized what Prudence had said, “Oh… right…” he muttered in a bemused manner. “Off you get kids!”
The six young adults grumbled discontentedly as they shuffled out of the room and into the vacant parlor across the hall. Unsurprisingly, this room was also lavishly decorated. However, in this room, the walls were adorned with a large family crest, which read, “The Honorable House of Potter.”
“Wow…” Justin whistled as he read the crest. “I guess we know whose house this is.”
“What d’you mean?” Owen asked the older boy. Dudley was glad of this; he hadn’t wanted to ask himself.
“Well, this, apparently, is a Potter house,” As Justin began realization dawned on Dudley as well. “And since Harry is the last Potter descendant,”
“This is Harry’s house,” Dudley finished amazed. How much could he possibly not know about his cousin? Dudley resolved to find out.
A/N: This chapter has not received its super edit... I just want to get the story back onto the forums as soon as possible. I promise the edit fest is coming though :)
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