Chapter 5 : The Joys of Telepathy
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Two weeks have passed without a scrap of news and I am still cooped up in this embellished monstrosity of a house with 15 other equally uncomfortable and miserable people. Mr. Dursley has a violent tantrum at least twice a day; his thoughts on being in hiding with my lot are, quite frankly, appalling. He is probably the most boorish, abrasive individual I have ever had the displeasure of meeting… and I still have to live with him and his wench of a wife. Kill me now!
Surprisingly, their son, Dudley, is actually a half-way decent person. Well, almost… He was an absolute bastard brute and still is slightly appalled by magic but he seems to be making an effort to clean up his act. I know because… well, lets face it… there are literally no secrets when it comes to me. For better or worse, I am forced to listen to every repulsively cruel or wicked thought that crosses a person’s mind. Not exactly a picnic.
Today is Tuesday… A very hot, sticky, mundane, tedious Tuesday… I can’t be trapped in here anymore with these people’s thoughts… OH MY GOD! I’m going to kill myself if I have to watch/listen to Justin mentally undressing my sister again. Shit! NO! NO! NO! NO! THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE!
“JUSTIN!” I blurt out, hoping to catch his attention. Unfortunately, his mind barely registers that I addressed him and his gaze remains trained on Nesta’s chest. Lucky for him, she hasn’t noticed yet; but I can’t be here when she does. I quickly excuse myself and bolt out of the living room before Justin’s thoughts get too “X-rated.”
Seeking sanctuary from the constant prattle of people’s thoughts, I wander down the hall towards the room I share with Nesta and Hazel. Instead of being greeted by the silence I anticipated, I heard Dudley lying in his room. Awww… he’s thinking about Hazel again! I don’t really mind listening on Dudley’s Hazel fantasies; they’re mostly about keeping her safe, giving her a hug, etc… just cute, G-rated, pining after the girl he is hopelessly in love with – not that he even knows he’s in love with her yet… Like I said, there are no secrets. I know everyone in this house better than they know themselves; it’s a little creepy.
I gently knock on his door before inviting myself into his room. Dudley is sprawled out on his bed trying to escape the heat. He really is enormous; the bed he’s lying on looks like it belongs in a playhouse. I slowly crossed the room to where he is trying to ‘escape the heat’. He’s thinking about me now… Dudley is friends with Lunet now… she is like the little sister he never had I smile at this; even though I still find it a little pathetic that he thinks in the third person. It’s like he has to remind himself of who he is, or needs to reaffirm his self-worth, or something…
Now Dudley is thinking about how hard it is being stuck in the house all the time; my sentiments exactly. If only there was someway to just take a break from this confinement. Just… get out for a day. WAIT A MINITE!!!
My mind is turning rapidly; I remember this morning Diggle thinking about using the “elf egress” to leave for patrols. If we could find this “elf egress,” theoretically, Dudley and I could leave the house for a few hours!
Dudley hasn’t noticed my stroke of genius; unsurprising because I generally maintain a monetary pensive facial expression. I survey his unmoving languid form and resolve to find a way out.
“Get up,” I whisper. Dudley’s eyes flutter open and he looks up at me quizzically. Nevertheless, he follows my orders and swings his gargantuan limbs over the side of his bed. I motion him to follow me out of the room, and down the hall.
I only have an inkling where the elf egress could be; Diggle had thought of a linen cupboard this morning at breakfast. I had also learned while reading about traditional wizarding households that elf entrances to the family home are typically hidden in plain site. We made a beeline for the first unopened closet I could find, at the end of the hall.
Dudley is confused, who wouldn’t be, when I open the closet door and peer inside. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything inside other than sheets and towels. However, I am able to discern a thin crack running along the left-hand wall. EUREKA! At closer inspection, the crack cuts a rectangle in the wall that is about three and a half feet tall. The perfect size for an elf door!
Now thoroughly proud of myself for intuitively finding our escape route, I turn to Dudley to explain what we are going to do. He is looking at me like I’m insane but is has no cruel thoughts so I let it slide. Though it is annoying he treats me in such a condescending manner when I am only three years younger than him.
“We,” I begin, my eyes twinkling deviously, “are leaving the Potter house this afternoon.”
Dudley’s thoughts become a muddle of confusion, excitement, and eventual disappointment when he realizes ‘we can’t possibly leave the house.’
“Oh, don’t worry,” I say coolly, enjoying his bewilderment. “Old powerful wizarding families, such as the Potters, typically had House Elves who worked for them. Now, House Elves can apparate, but not until they are old enough to control their magic, not unlike wizards. In the meantime, they would use ‘elf egresses’ such as the one we have…” I pushed on the door I had discovered, “here.” The exit swings open soundlessly, without hinges; Dudley’s jaw drops to the ground and he starts swaying awkwardly. He is battling between his crippling fear of anything magical and his desire to escape his parents for an afternoon.
While Dudley is still opening and closing his mouth soundlessly, I crouch to the floor and crouch through the door. Once on the other side, I turn around to face my friend; I look at him expectantly. He is still struggling with the decision to use the magical exit. Finally, the need for an afternoon of relative peace wins out over his distaste for the Wizarding World. Dudley’s internal debate took much longer than I had expected; I’ll have to work on his discomfort with ”my lot”.
Dudley is looking skeptically at the tiny doorway and frowns; he doesn’t think he can possibly fit through. I sigh as I now see the problem. Dudley is easily over 6’ tall. In fact, he’s probably almost 6’4”. This is actually kind of hilarious since Hazel barely makes 5’. The extreme height difference between him and his crush makes me laugh every time.
“Come on Dud,” I make my voice sound encouraging. “Just crawl through; you’ll be fine!”
Dudley shoots me a disparaging look. His thoughts are not very kind natured but then again, I am asking him to shove himself through a hole that is less than half his size. However, despite the hostile tenor resounding through his mind Dudley accommodates me and drops down to his knees. He starts to crawl through the door but gets stuck at his shoulders. They’re too broad on either side; shoving him through the door like that would be like trying to fit a circle into a star-shaped hole. I bite back a fit of laughter as Dudley tries once again to push through the door.
“Go through on your side,” I offer. “Your shoulders will fit if you go through vertically.”
Relief and embarrassment course through his body as Dudley obeys and rolls over sideways. He scoots through the door at a painstakingly slow pace. Finally he emerges on my side of the portal and pulls himself to his feet. At last, I let the hysteria I had been holding in bubble out; I burst into peals of laughter.
Dudley is very embarrassed and confused with my behavior. He wonders what’s so funny.
I answer his thoughts between fits of giggles, “You. Are. Such. An Oaf!” I sputter. Dudley looks offended at first, then his face softens and he too starts to chuckle along with my loud cackle. He thinks I’m scary when I laugh. He thinks I’m terrifying whenever I do anything but talk in gentle tones. I think it’s because of my violent outburst the day we first became friends. Scratch that… I KNOW it’s because of my violent emotional outburst that day. Oh the joys of telepathy!
At long last, we manage to calm down enough to venture outside onto the streets of Venice. We step outside into the bright sunlight neither one of us have properly seen since before we went into hiding; both of us blink madly as we adjust to the bright light. Once I am properly acclimated, I grab Dudley’s arm and bolt down the street, determined to put some distance between the Potter house and us. I don’t want Diggle or Hestia to have any chance of finding us just outside our ‘sanctuary’.
Dudley’s eyes hadn’t adjusted yet, so in my desperate attempt to jerk him down to the nearest bridge, I knock him off kilter and he starts to fall. I frantically try to push him back up before he crushes me. Luckily, he steadies himself before I become part of the pavement and together we race down the canal.
“The Potter house is in the Cannaregio sestieri of Venice,” I think aloud. “Therefore we only have to cross the Cannaregio Canal to get to the San Marco sestieri…”
“What’s in the San Marco sestieri?” Dudley asks, interrupting my thought process.
“Oh… all of the touristy places. You know, Saint Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace…” I stop when I hear that there is no recognition in Dudley’s mind. He never paid any attention in school. ‘He obviously had better things to do, like beating up some poor kid,’ I think bitterly. I look up at the former bully as we ambled across the bridge. It’s hard for me to trust people when I know every corrupted thought that passes through their mind. Dudley is conscious of his wicked past and is trying to change. This, and the fact he is considerate of me having to listen to him, makes him easier to be around.
“How do you know so much about Venice?” Dudley asks me.
“I don’t, actually,” he looks at me doubtfully. “Really, everything I know I learned from the library back at the safe house.”
Dudley’s eyebrows shoot up. “There’s a library? Where?”
I look at him incredulously. “Um… right off the great room where everyone spends most of their time.”
“Wait… you mean that creepy room filled with books?”
“Yes, that ‘creepy room filled with books’ is also known as the library.”
I look up at Dudley; the poor thing was absolutely pervaded with confusion and curiosity. “Do you want me to teach you how to use one?” I answer the question that has been running through his thoughts with one of my own. He is relieved not to have to ask me himself.
“Sure.” I’m confused as to why he is suddenly expressing such an interest in books when his mind turns once again to Hazel. Oh… that makes sense. Hazel has enthused for hours about several works of literature, metaphors, etc, etc. She is, probably, the biggest book nerd I have ever met. This is coming from a Ravenclaw. I guess he wants to actually have something to say to her during these conversations? Or maybe he just wants to have something to talk to her about? I can’t really tell right now; it’s probably a little of both.
We approach the famed Venetian clock tower, the Torre dell'Orologio, on St. Marks Square. Dudley is agape in utter wonderment as he takes in the fabulous architecture of the square. I sense his fervent curiosity so I supply, “That clock tower was built in the late 1490s… it was the last public works project that both wizards and muggles collaborated on knowingly.”
This caught Dudley’s attention. “What?”
All heard was the part about wizard and muggle cooperation so I elaborate, “Venice was one of the last places wizards lived openly in the muggle world, only there wasn’t really a distinction between the two worlds then. That’s probably why the Potter family has a house here; their line certainly is prominent enough to have been part of the Venetian magi.” I register the astonishment emanating from Dudley and realize I may have said too much.
“How important was Harry’s dad’s family?” Dudley finally asks.
“I doubt even Harry knows that much about your uncle,” Dudley winces as I mention their relation but I continue. “They might have some old records of the Potters in the Biblioteca Marciana. It’s that library over there,” I clarify while pointing towards in the general area of the Doge’s Palace.
Dudley thinks this over before deciding. “Maybe you better teach me how to use a library first.” I know that really he isn’t interested enough in his magical relative’s family to expend the effort, but I let this slide. I tend to give Dudley a lot of slack when it comes to his cousin. As I see his intent to make amends, I don’t feel the need to force him into acceptance. However, his continued discomfort with magic is increasingly disturbing.
Suddenly, a random pigeon flies into my head and starts attacking my hair. “OI!” Dudley shouts as he swats at the offending winged vermin. I try desperately to remain calm as I yank my wand out from its hiding place under my shirt. Dudley, unsurprisingly, freezes at the sight of my magical instrument. I ignore him and mutter a wildlife repellant charm; the pigeon, along with all of the other flying rats, departed to bother some poor unsuspecting tourist.
As I stow my wand I see that Dudley is, once again, regarding me warily. I sigh and initiate an eminent conversation about the magical world. “Dudley, I know you haven’t ever been exposed to much magic, but this is getting out of hand.” I try very hard not to make a scene in the middle of St. Marks Square
Dudley’s confused again. A little embarrassed, but mostly confused. I don’t wait for him to sort out his thoughts enough to actually formulate the question. “You have to stop thinking about magical people as secondary to muggles like yourself.”
“Bu… I don…”
“Yes you do!” I’m exasperated. “You pretend that Justin, Owen, and I are muggles like yourself when you know perfectly well were not. And there’s NOTHING wrong with what we are!”
Dudley looks flabbergasted. I don’t even bother listening to the torrid of thoughts running through his mind before I continue, “I don’t see how you live with yourself, knowing about the hate crimes at the root of this war, when YOU have been torturing your cousin since he was brought to your house for NO other reason than that he was magical!”
Dudley unexpectedly pulls me into a bone-crushing hug. He starts rubbing soothing circles on my back and says “Shhhh… lets get you home and have your meds straightened out.”
I’m about to pull back and slap him when I catch the ONE thought that Dudley is focusing on: I started screaming during my last rant… Crap! Before I can formulate a plan of my own (because lets face it, any plan of mine is better than one of the half-witted Dudley), Dudley scoops me up and carries me out of the square, bridal style. I start to kick and scream, getting into my part.
“I’m FINE! Where are you taking me!”
Dudley smiles apologetically to the crowd that had congregated around us during my rant, “Sometimes, being around too many people scares her. She’ll be fine.”
I’m actually quite enjoying our charade and allow Dudley to escort me away from the prying crowd. Finally, when we reach an isolated courtyard, he puts me down. After regarding me thoughtfully he says, “I think it’s time someone explained what this war is about.”
I look up at him in surprise. Wait…What? He honestly had no idea what I was talking about back in St. Marks Square. I take a shaky breath to steady myself before pouring out the sad truth about my world. “You know about You Know Who, right?” He does. “Well, You Know Who believes that only ‘pureblooded’ witches and wizards should be allowed to learn and practice magic. He has been killing muggles and muggle-borns, like myself, to make way for his new world order. That’s why we’re all in hiding.”
Dudley contemplates this new information, “And, for some reason, everyone believes Harry is the only one who can stop him?”
“He’s the only one who has EVER been able to stop him before.”
“But… Harry’ll be okay, right?” Dudley wants to know.
“We all hope so. He’s, quite literally, our only hope. Though, no one’s heard from him since the Ministry fell a few weeks ago.”
Dudley turns a spectacular shade of green as he remembers all of the times he tortured his cousin. Harry saved his life a few years back despite of all this. I decide not to comment on the internal battle Dudley is waging with himself as he tries to process this new information.
I start to lead my lumbering oaf of a friend back to the Potter house. The adults will probably notice we’re missing soon, and Nesta, Owen, and company will most certainly rag us for details of our escape. I groan as I realize a group adventure is now inevitable; no one likes being cooped up inside that old house.
Finally, we reach the house, Harry’s house as Dudley now calls it, and I locate the elf’s entrance. Dudley crawls through first and I follow soon behind him. I am about to open the closet door when I feel his hand over my own.
“Thank you,” he whispers. “For telling me about the war.” He twists the knob and walks out to brave the onslaught of interrogation from my brother and Justin. I stand alone in the closet for a while longer listening to the loud tenor of their minds; Owen is worried about me; I better go tell him I’m alive. Then I too emerged from the linen cupboard to explain my day to the large group of busybodies I call friends.
A/N: Hey beautiful readers & hopeful reviewers! How are you doing this fine day (or night, depending on when you happen to read this)? Same deal, low queue so remarkably unedited. I'm still trying to get the story back to where it was before I acted so irrationally on April Fools Day. Love you all!
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