Chapter 6 : Knowledge is Power
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By dinnertime, the hype over Dudley and Lunet’s escape had faded and, with the assurance that everyone would be invited along next time, the teens returned to his or her average routines. Dudley shied away from his magical peers; in spit of himself, he was still very uncomfortable around magic. Naturally, Lunet sensed this and would glare at Dudley whenever she found the opportunity.
The next morning, Dudley woke up earlier than his roommates. Because he didn’t want to wake them, he soundlessly traversed the room to the bathroom for his shower. Dudley had already been forced to accept that there were no knobs on the household appliances; they only worked when you asked nicely. As disturbing as this was, Dudley managed to cope by pretending everything in Harry’s house was modernized; that it was voice activated like the Batcave. Dudley was quite proud of the compromise he had made with himself. It allowed him to maintain a façade of comfort and normality while everything around him was new and unusual.
After successfully manipulating the shower, Dudley dressed for the day in ratty cargo shorts and a plain white t-shirt. All of his summer clothes had already begun to show customary signs of wear-and-tear. He had worn them so often in the past few weeks that it wasn’t really surprising, and as the Venetian summer lasted long after England had already become rainy, they were bound to become even more ratty.
That morning, Dudley found himself, once again, sitting across the kitchen table from Hazel. She remained completely immersed in her book and hadn’t yet acknowledged his presence. Dudley snuck a few glances at her between bites of his high-fiber cereal before he decided to forgo any digression in his ogling. Hazel was too engrossed to notice him blatantly scrutinizing her every move.
Hazel was wearing a loose blue t-shirt with white lettering… ’she looks good in blue’ Dudley mused as his eyes wandered upwards to take in the glory of her face. Hazel’s hair was growing out, her soft blonde curls now skimmed her shoulders, gently tickling her delicate neckline. She was tapping her mouth with a spoon; her bowl of breakfast lay forgotten to her left. This subtle seductress had no inclination of her effect on Dudley. He watched in awe as she lowered the spoon, licked her thumb, and flicked the page of her novel before resting her chin on her hand and continuing to read.
Owen startled both Dudley and Hazel by clamoring loudly into the room, still in his pajamas, and started to prepare his breakfast. Dudley groaned inwardly; something imperative must have happened for Owen to be out of bed this early. Owen was NOT a morning person.
Hazel, who had put her book down upon Owen’s entrance, still hadn’t returned to reading the book she had been captivated by only moments before. She, like Dudley, remained completely focused on Owen as he wreaked havoc over the kitchen in search of food. Owen finally found a cardboard box containing something he deemed satisfactory for consumption and plodded over the table to join Hazel and Dudley. Seeing their quizzical stares he asked brusquely, “What?”
Hazel met Dudley’s gaze and shot him a look that clearly said: you have to ask. She then picked up her novel with the pretense of reading again. However, her chocolate eyes flicked over the spine at regular intervals, scrutinizing the boys’ behavior.
Dudley shifted uncomfortably in his seat before attempting to engage a rather perturbed Owen. He started, “you’re up early?”
Dudley had half-expected his succinct utterance to trigger a violent reaction; Nesta and Lunet were both so volatile and Owen was crankiest in the morning. However, when Owen threw his mysterious yellow cardboard box onto the table, causing several multicolored crackers to fly out and scatter, he did not launch into a fierce tirade. Owen merely sat down and refused to acknowledge the presence of either Dudley or Hazel. Dudley was too intimidated by the brooding wizard to interrupt him with any further inquires. He looked up at Hazel to give her a shrug of defeat.
Suddenly, Hazel jumped out of her chair, knocking it to the ground. Her sudden movement caught both Dudley and Owen by surprise; they focused on the startled petite girl before them. She was pointing at the crackers Owen had spilt on the table. The fish-shaped snacks were flopping around on the table surface like genuine goldfish, causing Hazel much distress.
“Wow…” Dudley exclaimed in shock as he too backed away from the inexplicably animate fish. As he wrestled with the possibility of what he saw before him, Owen started to laugh.
“They’re charmed,” he explained while scooping up the offending snacks. “It’s just a spell, they’re not going to hurt you or anything.”
‘Ohhh… We’re in a magical hideout, so that makes sense,’ Dudley heard Hazel breathe a sigh of relief as the tension in the room was released. Owen snatched the remaining crackers off the table and popped them into his mouth; Dudley and Hazel slowly returned to their seats but did not take their gaze off Owen. If he noticed, he didn’t say anything. Instead his gaze wandered to Hazel’s open book.
“What’re you reading?”
A look of excitement crossed Hazel’s face, “A Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein.”
Owen spat out the crackers he had just bitten into all over the table. Dudley grimaced in disgust as his roomate turned to Hazel wide-eyed, “Isn’t that the book about a nudist Martian?”
Dudley’s eyebrows shot up, ‘Hazel was reading about WHAT?’
She shook her head and explained to Owen, “No, Mike is a human. He was only raised by Martians. Besides, that’s not what the book is really about.”
“Right, it’s about polyamory, communal living, and ritual cannibalism.” Owen sarcastically clarified with an impish grin. “VERY suitable reading material; your mother would be proud.”
Hazel blushed, “I don’t have to believe in Mike’s philosophies to find the book fascinating. Heinlein’s satire is flawless; as are the commentaries on the corruptness of institutions.”
Owen glanced over at Dudley before laughing once more, “Hazel, I think Dudley’s going to have an aneurism!”
Dudley went beat red; his flush rivaled that of his father during one of his temper tantrums. He wasn’t really that embarrassed by the topic of discussion; rather, he longed to be able to participate. Hazel came alive when defending, discussing, or debating her books; Dudley wanted to share this with her.
Crap! Hazel and Owen were still staring at him again having asked him yet another question. Somehow he always managed to lose his focus at the most inopportune times. Dudley considered the situation before stating confidently, “Yes.”
“Perfect!” Owen beamed, “Now, come along Hazel; Dudley and I are going to show you where you can find REAL literature in this make-shift prison!”
Hazel wrinkled her nose in that adorable smile of hers as she stood up from the table. Dudley was so mesmerized by the goddess before him he almost missed what Owen had said. ‘LITERATURE?’ Owen was now dragging both he and Hazel down a hallway he had made a point of avoiding. They turned a corner into a colossal room. A room completely filled to the brim with books.
The room was three stories tall. Dudley knew this was physically impossible given the size of the entire house; he suspected magic played a role in the creation and existence of the library. The walls were flanked with books on all three floors but the rest of the room was remarkably unfurnished. There was only a podium in the center which held a large tome; presumably a catalog of sorts. However, the most extraordinary element of this room was intricately painted ceiling. Unlike the rest of the house, the mural above the three young adults utilized green rather than red accents and consisted of masterfully designed paintings of muggle humans. They did not move like the other wizarding portraits in the house, rather they gazed down upon library users in the same solemn form they had held for centuries.
Dudley wasn’t the only one who was awestruck; Hazel silently took a few tentative steps into the library, her mouth hanging open. She was in a state of ecstasy and Dudley only wished he had been the one to bring it upon her. Hazel whipped around, smiled, then turned back in a dead sprint to the library catalog.
Owen shot a grin at Dudley, then ambled off to the right library wall. He started absently flipping through books. Dudley hesitantly approached Hazel, still in awe that she hadn’t discovered this place for herself. Then again, she had divided her time equally between Nesta and her own collection of books. He shouldn’t be so surprised; both he and Hazel were wary of exploring the blatantly magical house.
Dudley shuffled his feet as he watched Hazel poor excitedly over the catalog. She looked like a small child who had just tasted cotton candy for the first time. Finally, her long slender finger paused over a title Dudley couldn’t quite discern from his position behind her. She wrinkled her brow and tapped the title a few times before venturing off towards the left-hand staircase. Owen peered over the spine of the book he was absent-mindedly skimming to watch Dudley follow Hazel up to the second floor of bookshelves. She determinedly stalked the length of the wall before swiveling severely on her heels to face the bookshelves. After scanning the titles inscribed on the book spines, Hazel retrieved an old volume with gold embossed stars gracing the cover. As if in a trance, she slowly crossed her legs and sank down to the floor to read manically, sitting Indian-style.
Owen closed his own volume and sauntered over to the podium to see what had captured Hazel’s rapture. Dudley, meanwhile, decided to just ask Hazel, “What book is that?”
“Huh?” She looked up with a confused expression across her face. She hadn’t been listening to Dudley’s question.
Owen answered for her, “The Complete History of Muggle Relations in Venice.” He cleared his throat before looking up at Hazel again, “Why?”
She looked unabashed, “All I know about this war we’re hiding from is that some loon is trying to force his anti-muggle views on others. I figured some background information would be helpful since no one seems to be willing to tell me the whole story.”
Owen’s face softened, “That’s because no one actually knows the whole story. We only know the bits and pieces we’ve told you.”
“That’s not true,” Dudley piped up. “Harry knows and I bet the aurors do too.” Owen shot him a warning look and Dudley quickly shut up.
“Well no one who would actually be willing to tell us, knows the whole story,” Hazel snapped at Owen; her voice remained level. “I’m tired of being kept in the dark about all of your magic-y goings on. Obviously, what happens in your world effects Dudley’s and mine.” She leaned back against the bookcase and smoothed her blond locks. “I apologize for losing control.”
Dudley and Owen looked at each other, and then burst into laughter. “I’m sorry,” Dudley gasped. “But that was you ‘losing control’?”
Hazel cracked the tiniest of smiles before turning back to her book, leaving the boys to have their laugh. Dudley stopped chuckling first. He watched Hazel sitting on the floor with an open book in her lap before grabbing a volume of his own off the shelf. He joined her on the floor before opening the book to see what was inside.
He had chosen some sort of registrar that might have been interesting had Dudley actually been reading it. Instead, Dudley admired Hazel’s perfect face as she concentrated on her reading material. Owen silently climbed the stair well to join the duo, gave Dudley a thoughtful look, shook his head and grabbed a book of his own.
Suddenly, Owen bellowed, “WOW!” He turned to Dudley and grabbed his shirtsleeve. “Did you know about this?”
Dudley read aloud the line Owen was pointing to: “‘Artemis Potter, along with Caius Martinazzo, and Belinda Vacante signed a contract with the Doge of Venice in 1506, thus agreeing to conceal the wizard community from the muggle population.’ So?”
Hazel was also confused; she discarded her own book to witness this conversation. Owen, who was already exasperated with his companions, explained, “This means that Harry’s family was part of the Venetian magi!” When this also held no meaning for Hazel or Dudley he continued, “The Venetian magi were some of the most powerful witches and wizards of the time. They were famous for their ability to manipulate fate but completely disappeared by the mid 1500s. Their names are never taught in History courses that I’ve heard of; I had always assumed the records had been destroyed or lost.”
“What kind of records?” Dudley asked. “And why would they be useful?”
“Well, records about the magi’s discoveries, what happened to them…” Owen blushed, “aren’t you curious?”
“Curious about what?”
“Well,” Owen sighed again, “seeing as you know ABSOLUTLY NOTHING about your cousin or his family, I would have thought you would be interested. Don’t you want to know the history behind this house you didn’t know he owned?”
It was Dudley’s turn to blush, “Well, yeah… I was wondering about…”
This was all the encouragement Owen needed, “Good! It’s settled then!” He returned to his copy of a handwritten book, Our Family Chronicles leaving Hazel and Dudley to stare in awe. The Llewellyn Family’s violent outbursts shouldn’t come as a surprise to them; however Nesta, Owen, and Lunet always managed to astound them with just how volatile they could be.
One hour later, Hazel had already moved onto a second volume and Owen was almost done with his. Dudley didn’t bother trying to read, he took advantage of his companions’ preoccupation by admiring Hazel some more. He was mesmerized by the way her delicate hands flew under the lines on the thick parchment, the sultry appeal she held when she tucked a stray blond lock behind her perfectly shaped ear…
Owen shut his book with a loud resounding bang; both Dudley and Hazel looked up in surprise. Owen cleared his throat, “You’re uncle,” he looked pointedly at Dudley, “must’ve left Harry an extraordinary amount of wealth. Have you seriously never heard any mention of this?”
“Your mother never… mentioned the fact that her sister married one of the wealthiest wizards in Europe?”
“What are you on about?”
“Well… seeing as the Potter line is linked not only to the Venetian magi but also to the Russian royal family and the Celtic dream-makers… You seriously had no idea?”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Um… the fact that your uncle’s family is directly tied to almost half of the famous or powerful wizards in recorded history. That and the fact that Harry seems to be the only surviving heir in the Potter line.”
“That’s impossible,” Hazel said. “He wouldn’t be the only heir.”
Owen laid his book open on the floor so all three could see the extensive family tree that he had folded out of the pages. “Actually, through several generations of only children being lost during the goblin wars, necromancer uprisings, etc. The Potter line has diminished… Harry’s father was named James wasn’t he?” Owen pointed to the only name at the bottom of the page: James. The book indicated that ‘James’ had been joined in matrimony to a woman named Lily; however, the chart hadn’t been updated since 1978, two years before the birth of their son.
“Bloody hell!” Dudley breathed. Then, “My dad can NEVER find out about this! He’ll try to take some of whatever Harry has for himself!”
Owen and Hazel nodded in agreement before soundlessly replacing the books they had removed back on the shelves; they all felt they had devolved far enough into Harry’s family for one day. As they were leaving the library, Hazel hung back. Owen met Dudley’s gaze and gestured for him to stay with her; Owen then exited the library, leaving Dudley and Hazel alone.
Dudley shuffled over to Hazel, who was currently admiring the library ceiling once again.
“Hey,” his words startled Hazel, causing her to stumble. Dudley caught her before she fell to the floor. She straightened herself but showed no signs of embarrassment. She flashed him a thankful grin before returning her gaze upwards.
Dudley looked up as well but found it strained his neck. In a playful moment, he scooped Hazel off the ground then laid her on the floor. She squealed before she realized what he was doing, and then relaxed as he joined her on the ground. The two lay in silence for several minutes marveling at the artistry on the ceiling before Hazel spoke.
“Why didn’t you and your cousin get along?”
Dudley considered before answering, “I never really understood him, and I never made an effort to.” He really didn’t want to explain the years of torture he inflicted upon Harry; Dudley so wanted Hazel to see him as someone worthy of her friendship, even if he wasn’t.
“That makes sense,” she stated matter-of-factly. “It took me years to understand and accept Justin’s abilities.”
“Really?” Dudley found this hard to believe. “But you two seem so close…”
“We are,” Hazel interrupted him. “But when we first found out, things were difficult between us. Not unlike you and Harry.”
“I highly doubt that,” Dudley smirked, “I was right mean to Harry his entire life.”
“But that was because you were raised to be awful towards him,” Hazel admonished. Dudley looked stunned, “You don’t have to lie, and your parents are quite clear about the way they feel about your cousin.” Dudley was speechless. ‘How much did she know?’ “I, on the other hand,” Hazel continued her soliloquy. “Was raised to love my cousin. He treated me like his little sister; he always protected me from kids who would make fun me. We were best friends. You never had that with your cousin.”
Dudley rolled onto his side so he could look at Hazel, “Why were you made fun of?” He couldn’t think of ever wanting to hurt the sweet girl before him.
“It’s hard being the littlest kid in the class. You’re a very easy target,” she said simply. Dudley winced as he remembered picking on children for exactly this reason; they were too small and helpless to do anything about it.
“But anyway,” Hazel interrupted his masochistic train thought, “That’s all over now.” She rolled up onto her feet and looked down at him. “Want a hand up?” She offered her dainty hand to Dudley who gladly accepted it. He hoisted himself off the ground without her help; he probably would have yanked her back down to the ground without even trying to. “Lets go find Nesta and the others!”
Dudley walked happily alongside Hazel; they were friends now, he was sure. She knew that he had bullied his cousin and she still was friends with him! Nothing could ruin his mood! That was, until they turned the corner…
A/N: Hey guys! So I haven't really updated in a while... I'm SO sorry about that, but let me explain! I'm kind of starting a month long hiatus during which I prepare for my AP exams (I have to take four... kill me now!). After May 12, I really don't have any school left because pretty much all of my classes will have wrapped up by then (AP Exams). So I'll get back into the habit of writing, reviewing, and updating then. I'm SO sorry for this... but I kinda have to pass.
Hugs & Kisses!
P.S. My last chapter was very under-reviewed... It made me sad...
CYBER-HUGS FOR ANYONE WHO REVIEWS MY STORY! I LOVE FEEDBACK!
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